KakaoStory: not simply Korean Facebook

Professor Sang Woo Lee
Graduate School of Information,
Yonsei University

■ Social Sciences & Business /

KakaoStory: not simply Korean Facebook

A recent study shows the differences in the usage patterns and motivations of KakaoStory and Facebook users in Korea.

In a recent study led by Prof. Sang Woo Lee from Yonsei University investigated the differences in the usage patterns and motivations of KakaoStory and Facebook users in Korea. They also studied how the usage patterns of these two social media networks are influenced by different usage motivations.

The study reports findings from a 2014 survey with about 300 participants. The responses from the survey helped them compare different usage metrics, such as the average use time per day, posting frequency, number of registered friends, distribution by friend types, and technical statistics for the uploaded content. “There was a tremendous difference between the average number of friends belonging to users of the closed SNS KakaoStory and those of the open SNS Facebook” says Prof. Lee. This seemed to be the result of a difference in the types of friends listed for the users of these two services. While KakaoStory users had larger percentages of family members listed as friends, Facebook friends included more strangers and celebrities.

The survey included questions about six possible motives for selecting a service: relationship, information, convenience, self-expression, entertainment, and trendy. Facebook users were more likely to choose the service rather than KakaoStory users, and this mostly stemmed from a desire for information. The “relationship” and “entertainment” motives also had an influence on the use of Facebook. In contrast, only the “trendy” factor seemed to influence the selection of KakaoStory. This seems to be related to the origin of KakaoStory and the collectivist nature of Korean society.

Study findings show that older Koreans prefer KakaoStory.

KakaoStory grew out of the mobile messaging application KakaoTalk. At present, 90% of smartphone users in Korea use KakaoTalk, which allows easy access to KakaoStory through KakaoTalk profile pictures. Approximately 70% of people over the age of 50 are more likely to use a smartphone than a computer. So, a high proportion of older people use KakaoTalk, and because of the convenient functions of a smartphone, such as the profile photo on KakaoTalk, they find it easier to enter KakaoStory, which allows them to avoid a cumbersome log-on process. Therefore, people with strong trendiness motives are likely to prefer KakaoStory to Facebook.

Also, because Korea has a collectivist society, the level to which members belong to the group is important. “KakaoStory narrows the distance between people in a group and secures a form of closeness that creates boundaries between an individual’s group and other groups” adds Prof. Lee.

In sum, KakaoStory is not simply Korean Facebook! There are clear differences in the use patterns and motivations of users. While Facebook remains the global leader, KakaoStory has become the preferred SNS among all Koreans except those in their 20s.

Updated in Dec 2017

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Title of original article: A comparative study of KakaoStory and Facebook: Focusing on use patterns and use motives
Journal: Telematics and Informatics
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tele.2016.04.013
Contact corresponding author: Sang Woo Lee ( leesw726@yonsei.ac.kr )