US Asian Americans use technology

Digital Diversity: A Closer Look at Asian Americans in the US

The US Asian American1 community represents a diversity of languages, cultures and countries. While each culture within the Asian American audience is distinct, there are commonalities in how this active online audience uses digital media to be expressive.

Facebook commissioned a study by IPSOS MediaCT to help marketers better understand the roles culture and technology play in how Asian Americans communicate and consume media. The study’s participants self-identified as having heritage from one of the following Asian countries: Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand or Vietnam.

The study reveals that Asian Americans are choosing to connect in-language on social media, with 42% communicating with friends in an Asian language half of the time or more on Facebook.

Culture starts at home

The dinner table is significant across cultures in America, but it is the leading cultural connector for Asian Americans. One out of 2 Asian Americans connects to Asian American culture through cooking or eating—23% more than the total US population. And nearly half, 46%, connects to culture through family.

“The key elements in Asian American culture are family and keeping tradition. For example, my mother always makes certain types of food to celebrate the upcoming holidays,” Phillip, an Asian American research participant reported.

Cultural content on demand

On average, Asian Americans spend a total of 19.1 hours online a week on a computer, smartphone or tablet, which is 0.8 hours more than the total US population. 44% of Asian Americans say accessing cultural content not available on other media is an important reason for using Facebook.

“Media helps me know what is happening in the country I came from, and it connects me to the people I am familiar with and the place I grew up,” Shirley, an Asian American research participant reported.

Social media is a place to share the topics that matter. Asian Americans are actively sharing topical content, with 38% sending links to news articles on Facebook, more than any of the other multicultural groups* surveyed in this study.

How Asian Americans use technology and Facebook

A place for expression

Asian Americans tend to communicate more formally in person, adhering to community and cultural norms. As one out of 2 Asian Americans uses social media as a daily form of communication, digital media is becoming a channel to be less formal and more expressive in daily interactions. 45% of Asian Americans list Facebook as an important place to express things that they wouldn’t feel comfortable expressing in person.

One of the reasons Asian Americans may feel more comfortable expressing things on digital media stems from the ability to determine the composition of online communities: 46% of Asian Americans’ Facebook friends are predominately made up of friends and family who are within their own generation or younger.

Messenger apps help maintain connections with friends and family abroad. The IPSOS MediaCT study revealed that of Asian Americans who use Facebook Messenger as a go-to communication source, 55% use it to connect to friends and family outside the US. Asian Americans born outside the US are more likely to connect with friends and family abroad this way, with 82% reporting to use the service.

Asian Americans are also creating group chats to stay connected. One out of 5 Asian Americans participates regularly in group chats on Facebook—more than the total US population.

What it means for marketers

At 17 million, Asian Americans represent 5.6% of the total US population.1 This audience represents a growing opportunity. Asian American buying power reached more than $700 billion in 2013 and is expected to approach $1 trillion by 2018.2 As marketers define their total market strategies, reaching the Asian American audience is vital to success.

Embrace the diversity of backgrounds: Asian Americans in the US hail from many countries, each representing unique cultural values, beliefs and languages. Marketers should respect the diverse tapestry that makes up the Asian American community and tailor messages accordingly.

Make online a destination: Asian Americans lead the charge for the most time spent online across devices. Digital media has provided a platform for discovery, expression and community. Creating an enticing and engaging presence across digital media will help brands capture the attention of this active online audience.

Showcase culturally relevant content: Integrate content that reflects the Asian American experience. From celebrating holidays like Lunar New Year to viewing movies produced by Bollywood in the US, Asian Americans stay connected to their culture and heritage, and brands can help by providing relevant content on Facebook that’s unable to be found elsewhere.

This is the third post of a 3-part series based on the IPSOS MediaCT study commissioned by Facebook. These posts explore how culture and digital media usage intersect for people who self-identify as African American, Asian American or US Hispanic.

Attending SXSW?

Join Facebook and IPSOS MediaCT to discuss Digital Diversity: How Culture Impacts Digital
Date: Friday, March 13, 2015
Location: Hyatt Regency Austin Zilker Ballroom 2
Time: 11am–12pm

*Multicultural groups refers to respondents who self-identified as African American, Asian American or US Hispanic.
Source 1: Census-defined category. US Census Bureau, “2010 Census Briefs.” Accessed online at
Source 2: Consumer Power and Business Ownership Part of the “State of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders” series. Accessed online at