This is the eleventh and final entry in our series of blogs based on the Digital 2020 Report from Hootsuite and We are Social.
With 247 pages of global analysis, and separate reports for 220 countries and territories, including a 92-page report on Thailand, Digital 2020 is the most comprehensive repository of data on people’s online habits available today. As a leading creative agency in Bangkok, we set out to analyze the Report and extract its most important insights for digital marketers in Thailand, as well as elsewhere around the world.
Our writers led the charge, producing over 20,000 words of blog content, along with social media captions, video scripts, and infographic text. Of course, we couldn’t let the content team have all the fun. Our entire digital marketing team made valuable contributions to help bring this project to life.
Our graphic designers made:
And interactive content
They even got their meme on
Not to be outdone, the video team put together:
Stock footage videos
Big ideas in bit size
Out of this world animation
And even a news show parody
Lexicon: The most trusted name in marketing news
Although the above content often featured crossovers between several different narrative structures and media types, there was always a method to our madness. Modern stories have the unprecedented ability to break through the limitations of their formats. Articles can have movie trailers; infographics can be interactive, and news reports can break the fourth wall. The interplay between creativity and narrative expectation adds entertainment through variety – a valuable dimension to any comprehensive marketing campaign – while also serving to illustrate the vast potential of our digital subject matter.
We certainly had fun creating this stuff, but the themes we explored also have serious implications for marketers.
Covering a lot of ground
While there’s no substitute for reading the actual blogs, we’ll briefly summarize all 20,000+ words of this series here, including links to each digital marketing article in our series:
We began by putting this historical moment in the widest possible perspective, observing how the rise of our digital planet mirrors global economic progress in the current era. Despite the turbulence of our global civilization, 4.5 billion of the world’s 7.8 billion people now regularly use the internet, with billions more set to join the online community in the coming years.
Next, we examined how smartphones, social media, and fast internet connections are leaving a permanent imprint on our global culture by pushing public consciousness into the virtual space. This shift has major implications for online marketing efforts across every industry, as people spend even more time online than ever before.
Our third piece in the series focused on the difference between apps and ordinary webpages, from a modern marketing perspective. Brands have to make sure that all their content comes across equally well on all devices and channels. These and other digital trends suggest the wisdom of implementing an omnichannel marketing approach, which allows companies to standardize various touchpoints for a seamless and consistent customer experience.
Part 4 put Thailand itself under the microscope, looking beyond social media to find out what else Thai people do with the nine hours they spend online every day. Our story went deep into the Thai psyche, examined people’s unmet need for real connection, and concluded that brand marketing in Thailand works best when it provides the right mix of attention and emotional engagement.
From there, we moved on to e-commerce. Although it had something of a delayed start, e-commerce in Thailand has since grown by leaps and bounds. With plenty of competition, however, this sector offers no guarantees of success for any individual player. Brands will sink or swim in this unforgiving ‘survival of the fittest’-themed sector, making it all the more necessary to choose the right e-commerce setup, drive traffic to it, and ensure that it offers real convenience to the user.
Our next piece put the spotlight on the extraordinary potential for digital marketing across Southeast Asia over the coming years – and why companies should already be trying to get in on the ground floor of new markets. Developing countries throughout the region are quickly catching up in terms of connectivity, but in the meantime there is a great demand for content that can speak to people sensitively and directly. Companies whose brand storytelling appeals to potential customers will be able to build a loyal grassroots audience, with Southeast Asian countries offering particularly fertile ground for growth in this area.
With all this focus on finding your audience and gaining their trust, our next article gives some valuable marketing ideas. Employee advocacy can build your reputation, while private and personalized messaging helps your customers feel valued. From there, an ability to simplify the user experience can go a long way toward holding onto each potential sale. The right mix of age-old storytelling ability and modern technical expertise is required to succeed here.
Diving deeper into the world of brand storytelling and PR, our next article argued that special care is needed in an age where disinformation, fake news, cynicism, and distrust of the media are at an all-time high. Only the brands that offer compelling stories, real connection, and an actual sense of belonging will be able to win the trust and loyalty of the digital crowd.
We then turned our attention to the world of advertising in video games. From an exploration of static vs dynamic ads, and the possibility of designing entire branded games for users to enjoy, we noted that despite the popularity of video games in Thailand, very few brands have taken advantage of the advertising opportunities on offer. Those who get in the game can level-up their marketing efforts and beat the competition.
Finally, we noted that in this new decade, online audiences everywhere will seek greater substance in their content diet. Social media marketing may well be omnipresent, but the superficial aspects of it are losing their novelty. Influencers will still be an excellent way to get attention in the coming years, but customers won’t be as easily fooled by star power and simple gimmicks. Once brands have a customer’s attention, they’ll have to work hard to keep it. Employee advocacy, support for important causes, and community building are all excellent ways for brands to demonstrate their worth.
Okay … that was the entire series in a nutshell. Now, it’s time to address the elephant in the room.
COVID-19 has entered the chat
Hootsuite and We Are Social released the Digital 2020 Report in early February, and all of their research was done prior to that. Naturally, the Report doesn’t anticipate the spread of the novel coronavirus and all of its related impacts on society and the economy.
For the most part, the pandemic and its related economic consequences will only accelerate the trends detailed in the Report. E-commerce, online gaming, streaming content, social media use – these are becoming even more popular, ingraining themselves into society’s daily habits as people stayed in their homes for months during the crisis.
Even now, as many societies are starting to open up again, people are reluctant to visit brick-and-mortar stores. Those who have discovered the convenience of ordering products online during the lockdown may continue doing so in from now on.
And by the same token, who knows when the movie theaters will open again? Netflix – already an industry titan before the pandemic – is dominating the market now. Never one to rest on its laurels, Netflix has always paid close attention to consumer research. Even as far back as 2014, 98% of millennials watched content on their smartphones. In response to this finding, the company crafted a better user interface for its app, building smoother animation while optimizing for battery efficiency and download space.
You could say that Netflix was in the right place at the right time. But you can’t say it hasn’t earned its success. From the beginning, the company has been listening to its customers, anticipating their needs, and delivering on its promises.
Still, Netflix is one of the lucky ones. Through no fault of their own, millions of other businesses are now in crisis mode. Although they may be tempted to slash their marketing budgets, brands would instead do well to reflect on what they can offer the public. They should also keep in mind that the value of modern marketing mostly comes from incremental increases in brand awareness, rather than immediate spikes in sales activity. Awareness comes first, before sales – and digital PR campaigns allow brand building to continue smoothly and cheaply even when traditional business grinds to a halt.
By taking the long view, businesses in every industry can make excellent use of the marketing opportunities now available to them. Investments made today can give your business a major advantage when things start to return to a semblance of normality (as is already starting to happen in many places).
Of course, if you need help with any of this, our digital marketing agency in Bangkok can get you on the right track.
A time for cautious optimism
In many ways, the Digital 2020 Report paints a promising picture for this new decade. Increasing rates of connectivity and online participation reflect a world where millions – if not billions – of people are becoming wealthier, healthier, and better educated. As marketers, and as citizens, we see great promise in these trends.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a bit of a setback, to say the least. While some countries seem to be winning the battle against the virus (Thailand being one of them), many others have faltered. And, we aren’t nearly out of the woods yet. Even when we do get through this, the problems that were with us before the pandemic will still need careful attention. Political polarization, rising nationalism and authoritarianism, distrust of the news media, future pandemics, and, perhaps most importantly, climate change will all have to be addressed skillfully and decisively throughout the 2020s.
So let’s get to it. Each of these challenges brings new opportunities to cooperate, to listen, to learn, and to tell a better story for all of humanity.
Pessimists may say that the past 75 years of relative peace and prosperity have been the exception – and that universal entropy, combined with the imperfections of human nature, mean that our successes as a global society are destined to be fleeting.
We say that the challenges before us are known quantities. They require nothing more, and nothing less, than solid leadership – and leaders inspire populations by telling the right story. Those who sow confusion and division will always be out there; it is simply our job to counter their story with a better one, and make sure the world hears it.
Here’s to hoping that by this time next year, we’ll have gotten the pandemic under control, and be making real progress at solving our many problems together … while still taking the time to enjoy the little things that make life worth living.
This brings our series of blogs on Digital 2020 to an end. When the Digital 2021 Report comes out next near, rest assured we’ll be on the case again to bring you the most important marketing news and insights. Until then, let’s continue creating stories that keep our hopes alive.