Jakarta Globe | Insight
Politics and politicians still dominate social media trends in Indonesia this year. (JG Photo/Jurnasyanto Sukarno)

Celebrity Weddings, Corrupt Politicians and Sports

What kept Indonesians busy Twittering, Facebooking and Instagramming in 2017? The Jakarta Globe went online and compiled data from the most popular social media and search engine platforms in the country and here are the results:

1. ‘Satan’s Slave’ and Celebrity Weddings

Horror remake “Pengabdi Setan” (“Satan’s Slave”) by Joko Anwar ruled Indonesia’s Twittersphere this year.

Posts about the box office hit – more than 4 million viewers so far – inundated local social media from September to November when the film had an unbroken seven-week run in cinemas all over the country.

By Oct. 13, there were more than 14,000 tweets mentioning the #PengabdiSetan hashtag – one of the many hashtags related to the film.

By the end of the year, the movie was the most tweeted-about topic on Twitter in the country and the second-most searched topic on Google Indonesia.

The movie’s trailer was the 10th most popular local YouTube video, suggesting that its success at the box office was at least partly propelled by online fame.

Most tweeted-about Indonesian films in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)
Most tweeted-about Indonesian films in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Another national social media sensation was the so-called National Heartbreak Day, the day in September when pop singer Raisa Andriana finally married her boyfriend, actor Hamish Daud Wyllie.

Before and after the celebrity wedding, Twitter was filled with both congratulatory wishes for the couple and, even more so, gags and memes about men and women having their hearts broken because their favorite actress and actor are now no longer single or available.

The event inspired many hashtags, the most popular of which was #HariPatahHatiNasional, or National Heartbreak Day.

The wedding was the ninth-most talked about moment on Twitter this year.

Overall, the entertainment industry still gives Indonesians many things to obsess and gossip about.

The two most popular Indonesians on Twitter currently are singer Agnes Monica (17.4 million followers) and comedian/filmmaker/author/vlogger Raditya Dika (16.3 million followers).

According to a recent study by location-based social networking app Yogrt, music is still the most favorite conversation topic on Twitter, followed by sports and film.

2. Grief United

Indonesian football fans grieved en masse in October this year when legend Choirul Huda, captain and goalkeeper of Persela Lamongan, died after a freak collision during a Liga 1 match against Semen Padang.

Condolence messages poured in to celebrate Choirul’s life from fellow players, clubs and fans – local and international.

Persela Lamongan’s official tweet about Choirul’s death was retweeted over 20,000 times, making it Indonesia’s golden tweet this year.

The unfortunate incident was the seventh-most-talked about moment on Twitter.


And as always, local football teams and arch rivals Persib Bandung and Persija Jakarta inspired equal parts admiration and abuse on social media.

The same goes for the national team whenever they were out to play against other countries in tournaments that they invariably lost.

The hashtags #PersibDay, #PersijaDay and #TimnasDay (National Team Day) were the top-, fourth- and fifth-most tweeted hashtags of 2017, respectively.

National and international sporting tournaments also managed to steal the attention of sports fans on social media, including the newly rebranded top-tier football league, Go-Jek Traveloka Liga 1, and also next year’s Asian Games, which will be held in Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra.

#GojekTravelokaLiga1 and #365toAsianGames 2018 were among the most popular sports-related hashtags this year.

3. Political Banter

Four out of the top 10 moments on Twitter in Indonesia this year were related to politics, or politicians.

Former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama’s blasphemy trial and eventual imprisonment, former House of Representatives Speaker Setya Novanto’s dramatic run-ins with the national antigraft agency (and a power pole) and the divisive Jakarta gubernatorial election were the most attention-grabbing, with all three included in the top-10 Google Indonesia searches in 2017.

More often that not, Indonesians took to social media to vent their anger at politicians, not necessarily to seriously talk about politics.

Ahok’s two-year prison sentence from blasphemy attracted a lot of protests with many seeing the witch hunt against him as an attack on justice and Indonesia’s much-valued religious and ethnic pluralism.

The hashtags #BebaskanAhok (Free Ahok), #KamiBersamaAhok (We’re With Ahok) and #FreeAhok were used to express what many Indonesians thought was an unfair treatment of the popular Chinese-Christian politician.

#FreeAhok was the sixth-most tweeted hashtag in Indonesia in 2017. Another popular Ahok hashtag was #TerimaKasihAhok (Thank You Ahok), which Jakartans used to thank Ahok for his many contributions as governor of the capital.

Setya Novanto, the main suspect in the million-dollar e-KTP graft case, meanwhile became one of the most popular subjects for abuse on social media in Indonesia this year.

His antics in trying to avoid interrogation summons from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) – from pretending to be sick to eventually disappearing from his home when KPK investigators came knocking on the doors of his mansion in South Jakarta – so incensed many Indonesians, who with typical good humor used the ironical hashtags #ThePowerofSetnov (“Setnov” is Setya’s nickname) and #IndonesiaMencariPapah (Indonesia Looking for Big Daddy) to heap abuse on the wily politician.

But the hashtag #SaveTiangListrik (Save the Power Pole) singularly electrified Indonesian Twittersphere after Setya reportedly staged a car accident – his car slammed into a power pole – to avoid arrest.

An anonymous Indonesian even created a Twitter account to celebrate the electrical pole Setya smashed into, @TiangListrik_ID:

Tiang Listrik, a parody Twitter account dedicated to the power pole that Setya Novanto's car slammed into while on the run from KPK investigators. (JG screenshot)
Tiang Listrik, a parody Twitter account dedicated to the power pole that Setya Novanto’s car slammed into while on the run from KPK investigators. (JG screenshot)

Setya’s run-ins with the KPK was the ninth-most talked about topic on Twitter and #SaveTiangListrik was the ninth-most used hashtag of 2017.

4. Slime Magnate and Vloggerpreneurs

It seems anyone now can make a lot of money by becoming a hit vlogger, Instagram celebrity or a humble online shop owner.

Instagram’s year-in-review report said there has been a trend of young Indonesians selling “slime” – a squishy, gooey toy jelly – on the popular photo-sharing platform.

One of them is 10-year-old Almeyda Alzier (@nayaslime18) who has more than 540,000 followers. The slime magnate has also branched out to sell a line of children’s clothing.

The Instagram account of 10-year-old Almeyda Alzier, whose obsession with slime led her to become a successful online entrepreneur. (JG screenshot)
The Instagram account of 10-year-old Almeyda Alzier, whose obsession with slime led her to become a successful online entrepreneur. (JG screenshot)

Perhaps from seeing the success of young online techpreneurs like Almeyda, Indonesians were especially curious about finding out tips on how to make money on or from social media.

Google Indonesia’s top 10 “How to be…” trending searches were dominated by inquiries about tips and tricks on making it as a social media entrepreneurs, including “How to be a YouTuber,” “How to be an online shop reseller” and “how to be a selebgram” (selebgram = Instagram celebrity).

Google Indonesia managing director Tony Keusgen said: “We saw a huge interest from Indonesians in actually finding out more from a commercial sense … that area around how-to really took off in Indonesia in 2017. Indonesians were really keen to find out how to leverage digital to create more economic opportunities. How do I become a YouTuber? Or how can I be a Gojek driver? How can I be an online techpreneur?”

5. Religious and National Day Festivities

As a Muslim-majority country, it did not come as a surprise that the holy month of Ramadan led Twitter’s top moments list in 2017.

Two of the most popular Ramadan-related hashtags were #Bukber (an acronym for “breaking the fast with friends”) and #Ngabuburit (slang for “hanging out waiting to break the fast”).

A music festival to welcome Ramadan in Malang, East Java. (Antara Photo/Ari Bowo Sucipto)
A music festival to welcome Ramadan in Malang, East Java. (Antara Photo/Ari Bowo Sucipto)

Idul Fitri at the end of Ramadan was ranked second in the list of days with the most Instagram posts in 2017.

In third place was Idul Adha, or Day of Sacrifice, the other Islamic holy day when Muslims sacrifice lambs or cows as an act of worship.

First place on Instagram’s list of days with the most posts was taken by Indonesia’s Independence Day on Aug. 17, which also came out third in Twitter’s top moments list.

Looking Into Social Media Crystal Ball for 2018

It is impossible to predict what posts or hashtags will be trending next year, but Twitter Indonesia’s country industry head Novita Jong said at a press conference earlier this month that we are likely to see the same posting patterns but on different topics.

Cultural events like Ramadan, celebrity gossips and social commentaries will still dominate social media timelines, according to Novita.

But Indonesians may no longer obsess just about “dirty” politicians but also about more mundane, everyday experiences like the travails of using app-based transportation.

Tweeting about one’s experiences using ride-hailing services were quite popular in 2017 even though it did not quite make it to the top moments or hashtags list.

Major sporting events may also shoot to the top of trending topics lists in 2018.

“Next year will be an exciting one for sports fans, because there will be the Asian Games, the FIFA World Cup and the Winter Olympics. The biggest event locally will be the Asian Games, because Indonesia is going to be the host,” Novita said.

BMX riders in a test event for Asian Games 2018 in Ciamis, West Java, on Dec. 6. (Antara Photo/Adeng Bustomi)
BMX riders in a test event for Asian Games 2018 in Ciamis, West Java, on Dec. 6. (Antara Photo/Adeng Bustomi)

Google’s Keusgen added that the most favorite content will still be local ones, either those made by locals or in the Indonesian language.

He pointed out that this year’s top searches were for “Surat Cinta Untuk Starla” (“Love Letter for Starla”), a hit song by Virgoun Tambunan that has been adapted into a romance movie, and the aforementioned horror flick “Pengabdi Setan.”