by Kristie Thong, Marketing-Interactive Social media has seen unprecedented growth in the Asia Pacific for the past year and is now one of the key online trends, says a report from The Nielsen Company. The three biggest global online brands are social media sites – Facebook, Wikipedia and YouTube. About 74% of the world’s Internet population has visited a social networking or blogging website, says Nielsen’s Asia Pacific Social Media Report. Social media is also having an increasing impact on consumers’ purchasing decisions, where online product reviews are the third most trusted source of information after family and friends. Japanese users are the most avid bloggers globally. The country’s adoption of Twitter is also growing, with the number of unique visitors increasing from less than 200,000 to more than 10 million in April 2010. Bulletin board systems are popular in China. "Grass roots" celebrity tracking dominates online conversations in the nation, while Chinese Internet users are also the most likely users to post negative online product reviews. While Twitter has seen exponential growth in India, Facebook is also gaining market share. 50% of social media users claim to use Facebook more often, as compared to 35% for Orkut. Korea is one of the most social media engaged countries in the world, with the country’s leading social media site, Naver, attracting 95% of the Korean Internet population. Growth in social media usage continues to grow, now with the country’s June elections and the adoption of mobile social networking. Australia leads the world in social media engagement with an average of over seven hours of usage per month. Australian users look to communities of interest or sports sites as a key channel for social media discussion. LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing trends in Australia, with unique audience numbers increasing by 99% from July 2009 to May 2010. "Social media is here to stay and needs to be taken seriously by the broader business community, from the CMO to the CEO," notes Megan Clarken, managing director of Nielsen’s online business in Asia Pacific. Businesses can no longer afford to simply observe the social media phenomenon, but to embrace it, she adds. Original article found on Marketing-Interactive. Read more about the Business Use of Social Media from discussions at the EASTWEST PR Roundtable series.