Social media use in Thailand continues to grow, with 80% of connected consumers using social media or instant messaging platforms on a daily basis. The online experience is dominated by LINE, with 92% of connected consumers using the Japanese platform, according to Connected Life.
Developments in mobile technology are a clear driver, with the number of smartphones users in Thailand now numbering 20 million, and increasingly-powerful smartphone cameras giving connected users the opportunity to share updates with friends and followers instantly. For many mobile-first consumers in the country, social media is the totality of the web experience as is the main access point for the internet, causing a rapid uptake of new channels as they explore the social ecosystem.
Beyond the LINE ecosystem
However, despite LINE’s far-reaching influence over Thai internet users, global platforms continue to attract a substantial user base, with 86% of connected consumers using Facebook, 31% using Instagram, 16% using Twitter and 6% using Snapchat. The Connected Life results showed that on average, connected consumers use 5.6 social media or instant messaging platforms, highlighting that other channels still have a role to play in providing brands with a variety of ways to connect with consumers.
For example, the highly-curated Instagram network is skewed towards the younger generation, with 16 – 24 year olds making up more than half (59%) of Instagram users in Thailand providing strong opportunities to connect with younger audiences. The in-the-moment platform Snapchat is less prevalent, attracting only 6% of all internet users in Thailand, but this has increased from 1% in 2015, showing modest growth.
The success of these platforms provides brands with new opportunities to engage consumers. However, brands need to be mindful of evolving consumer attitudes as they look to take advantage of the diversifying social media landscape. The Connected Life results reveal that a quarter (27%) of connected consumers in Thailand ‘actively ignore’ social posts or content from brands. Businesses need to avoid being invasive, as 29% already feel ‘constantly followed’ by online advertising.
Arpapat Boonrod, Ph.D., CEO Thailand, Kantar - Insights, said:
“As brands race to actively engage with connected consumers, they risk being seen as invasive. This results in either being ignored or rejected. Our study shows that this is becoming a key issue for brands in Thailand. It’s now essential for brands to focus on the impact rather than just the reach. The ability of brands to grab attention, to make an impression on Thai consumers, and to stand out from the crowd is more important than ever before if they want to meaningfully connect.”
Social media influencers trump official sources
Influencers and celebrities hold the key to connecting with consumers, according to the Kantar TNS study. Just under half (48%) of online 16 – 24 year olds in Thailand say they trust what other people say online about brands more than ‘official’ sources, such as newspapers, brands’ own websites or TV adverts. Again, younger people are the more influencer-oriented group, trusting bloggers and peers rather than information from brands. The older generation’s ‘influencer network’ is still primarily friends and family. However, considering this group’s adoption of other trends, they may soon begin referring to social media influencers for inspiration and information.
It’s clear that LINE dominates the social media landscape in Thailand, as the platform has been very successful in creating an ecosystem of apps that deliver various consumer needs – from photo sharing to games and music. However, it’s important not to forget the other platforms in use that can deliver an effective and targeted strategy. The adoption of additional platforms amongst Thais is incremental, and so brands need to see these channels as multiple new ways to engage with consumer, and not defer to LINE for every campaign.
What’s crucial is that brands no longer look at social channels as blank media space for advertising. The results show that consumers are demanding content that is integrated seamlessly into the platform, enhancing rather than interrupting the use of it. To do this successfully, it’s essential to maintain the brand values of the platform being used. Brands need to approach each platform individually to ensure the content created mixes seamlessly into the user-generated feed and maintains their own integrity.