Opinion: Is it time for Papua New Guinea business to get serious about social media?


With an estimated one million Papua New Guineans now connected to a mobile network, is it time for companies to add social media to their marketing strategy? Digital marketing manager Andreia Brodsky outlines what you need to know about this growing marketing channel.

Facebook reaction iconsOver the last few years in PNG, there has been a remarkable growth in the use of social media; in particular, Facebook.

In 2012, there were 100,000 registered Facebook users in PNG. Since then, that number has tripled. Most users are below the age of 24.

The leading social media services are: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ and Instagram. They work well because we trust our friends, and the people in our personal networks, much more than we trust strangers, companies or brands. It is the power of the relationship that drives social media.

A natural fit for PNG?

PNG has a strong oral culture, and word-of-mouth is very influential. The efforts of PNG’s telcos have provided the technological platform, but one might also consider whether PNG’s unique wantok system has had a role to play in the success of social media.

‘The wantok system is not only based on obligation, care and support; it’s based on respect, mutual benefit and survival,’ explains Stephanie Waide, PR and Communications Manager at Bank South Pacific. ‘Everyone has to build relationships, help each other, give when there is a need and support one’s society.’

‘The system is based on trust and who you call a wantok. Social media works very well in PNG because the medium highlights the cultural strengths in our oral society, where relationships are highly valued.’

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One PNG services-based company with which we work has recently experienced an explosion in sales leads and marketing reach, thanks to its activity on Facebook.

A few months after the Facebook page was created, the company had thousands of followers. Enquiries about services increased. One of the Facebook ‘posts’ reached 30,000 people and resulted in engagement from 1,000 people.

Imagine the value of that content making its way across the eyeballs of a newly engaged audience, who trust what their fellow wantok shares on social media.

Many companies in PNG are on social media. The successful ones are those that have tapped into a few important aspects of the medium:

  • knowing their audience
  • targeting their audience
  • providing timely, engaging and useful content.
  • providing sufficient responses and feedback to user comments and enquiries.

Four social media tips

It is an exciting time in the age of marketing for businesses, yet they should be aware that using social media is neither obvious nor straightforward. Below are a few points to consider when using social media as a marketing channel:

  1. Understand which social media platform is appropriate for your company and your goals, and take a targeted approach. You do not need to be everywhere, on all platforms.
  2. Think about your goals. Is your aim to increase sales or brand awareness? Do you want to provide inspiration, information, entertainment, or answers to questions?
  3. Think about the value your social media profile will add to your audiences’ lives. Sales announcements and overt self-promotion lead to poor results. However, if you can provide interesting, insightful or informative content, then that adds value.
  4. Where will your social media content come from? The mantra ‘think like a marketer but act like a publisher’ can be helpful. From a marketing point of view, you want to reach your targeted audience. However, from a publishing point of view, you want to do it with engaging content. Content can come from the following sources:
    • Created—the content is produced by yourselves or by an out-sourced agency. For example, it could be an article, thought, quote, update or piece of news that is created for your company.
    • Curated—this involves finding content elsewhere and making it relevant to your company and audience.
    • User-generated—this comes from the audience. For example, asking your audience to complete a survey about a topic of relevance. You would then publish the survey results.

Andreia Brodsky is Digital Marketing Manager at Business Advantage International and consults to a number of PNG companies on social media strategy.


  1. Social Media and it’s success is uniform globally because people are fundamentally social beings. The success it has to PNG is not an exception in comparison to other countries that are have the same success. I mean which society in the world does not place emphaisis on social relationships?

  2. John J says

    Its all done at a serious cost however. PNG wantoks used to ask for 2 or 3 kina of credits. Now its 20 kina and it all goes to Digicel and Telkom. And if your data runs out you can be charged up to 45 toea per megabyte. Without being asked.

    And its 2 or 3 times weekly . Costs food on the table.

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