Facing Indonesians

Facebook’s Indonesia Country Director Sri Widowati on what the country means to the social media giant

By Gilang Ardana
Monday, January 29, 2018

Facebook is no stranger to Indonesians. As one of the most popular social media in the country, Facebook is the go-to platform for millions of Indonesians to share ideas, connections and lots of selfies with friends and families. 

In 2017, Facebook cemented its commitment to Indonesia by opening an official representative office in Jakarta. In charge of operations is Country Director Sri Widowati, who brings nearly 20 years experience in consumer goods marketing across Asia, most recently with Garnier and Unilever.

Sri sat down with AmCham Indonesia to outline her plans for the future of Facebook in Indonesia

AmCham Indonesia: Why did Facebook decide to open an office in Indonesia?

Sri Widowati: Our mission is to give people the power to build a community and bring the world closer together. This couldn't be any more relevant than in Indonesia where the community is not only growing in numbers, but where people are using Facebook to connect with the friends, businesses and moments that matter the most to them. 

We have seen Indonesians achieving incredible things on Facebook to support each other, celebrate Indonesian culture and open up new business opportunities for themselves. In Indonesia, half of the community on Facebook belongs to a group where they connect on their passions and interests. With the new office in Jakarta, we are strengthening our commitment to help give Indonesians the power to build a community and bring the world closer together.

How do you see the importance of the Indonesian market to Facebook?

Indonesians on Facebook want to connect with the people, moments and businesses that matter to them. This is largely driven by the country's mobile-led population of consumers connecting with each other on Facebook. Indonesians are also some of the friendliest people in the world, not only with friends and family at home, but with connections around the globe. For instance, Indonesia is one of the top three countries with the highest friend count – twice the global average. 

Our team is focused on helping businesses unlock growth opportunities on mobiles. And when it comes to businesses, 63 percent are connected to an Indonesian business and 42 percent are connected to at least one business overseas on Facebook. 

We are committed to learning from Indonesian communities, including small business owners, youth and developers. For example, we trained more than 9,000 Indonesian entrepreneurs, the majority being women business owners, through #SheMeansBusiness and #BoostYourBusiness programs in Surabaya, Jakarta, Bandung, Lombok, Makassar, Manado, Palembang and Medan. We also extended support for local developers by training more than 3,000 people through hackathons and programs, such as Facebook Platform Meetups, FbStart events and the launch of Developer Circles.

In Indonesia, fake news and hoaxes are big issues right now in social media. As one of the top social media platforms used by Indonesians, what is Facebook doing to curb this problem?

It is paramount that we provide the best user experience. This means providing a platform that is safe and useful for everyone. We are committed to fighting the spread of false news all over the world, including in Indonesia. We know people want to see accurate information on Facebook – and so do we. False news is harmful to our community, it makes the world less informed and it erodes trust. This is not a new phenomenon, and all of us — tech companies, media companies, newsrooms, teachers — have a responsibility to do our part in addressing it.

Our efforts include a Facebook Journalism Project in May 2017. It was a full-day event for journalists and news leaders to learn more about the different tools available on Facebook and Instagram, including Facebook Live, Instant Articles, CrowdTangle and e-Learning Courses that they can use in their daily work. There was also sharing of best practices and success stories on utilizing these platforms for news reporting.

We are also committed to learning from partners. We are constantly listening and learning and building long-standing relationships with community leaders and safety experts around the world. In Indonesia, we have strong local safety partners who we've ch focuses been working with for a number of years on local education programs. In 2017, Facebook began working with the YCAB Foundation [short for Yayasan Cinta Anak Bangsa], which focuses on youth development, empowerment and capacity building]. Together we launched “Think Before You Share,” a six-monthprogram that aims to help teens to develop critical thinking skills and empathy when using social media. 

YCAB and Facebook hosted 100 events in 100 high schools for students across Jakarta and surrounding cities. The content was developed jointly and focused on basic Internet safety tips and digital literacy skills. We also partnered with Sudah Dong, an antibullying organization, to conduct #MelekInternet Safer Internet Day in Jakarta to promote the safe, responsible, and positive use of digital technology. This event was one of the continued collaborations between Facebook and Sudah Dong.

What’s next for Facebook in Indonesia? Do you have any specific plans for us?

With the rapid pace by which mobile is growing in Indonesia, businesses have to be faster in adopting mobile strategies that reach people at every step of the fragmented commerce journey. In the future, we are committed to helping businesses grow and reach more Indonesians on Facebook. Whether it's brand building, generating demand, driving leads or sales domestically and internationally, we are focused on helping business unlock growth opportunities through integrated campaigns on TV and Facebook.

We will continue deepening our support through local investment, education opportunities and more initiatives that will empower businesses to grow with Facebook and Instagram, as well as to win in the mobile world by reaching people where they spend their time – ie across the Facebook family of apps and services.

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