In terms of pure numbers, Facebook remains the king of Thailand’s social media scene. But the revolutionary insight of the modern internet is that numbers don’t tell the whole story. From a digital marketing perspective, the true value of social networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is that they allow for precise targeting of users. Their ability to let companies advertise selectively represents the opposite of a numbers game: Quality, not quantity, now rules the day.
Facebook’s achievement of attracting 50 million users in a country with just 69 million people is historic indeed – but the truth is that no organization needs to reach such a large number of people. When considering which social media platform should be best for businesses to use, other variables must also factor into the decision, such as presentation, user mindset and demographics, time spent on site, cost per click, and how easy it is to increase organic followers to your page.
As each platform varies along these separate dimensions, things of course get complicated. Raw user numbers may not reveal all there is to know about the big social networks, but they do provide a base for any analysis to begin. And they also provide a worthwhile snapshot of the Big Three’s relative strengths at the present moment.
The King Keeps Its Crown – But Not Its Momentum
Data recently published by Hootsuite and We Are Social offer a look at the level of Thai market penetration from the three main social networks. The research also shines a light on the behavior of internet users in Thailand, particularly in terms of how they spend their time online. In some ways, Thailand’s statistics show the country to be an outlier by world standards – but from other angles, the country’s online habits fit right in.
Thais stay online for a whopping 9 hours and 11 minutes each day, with Facebook the most widely used platform in the country. The trends seem to be shifting slightly, as we will see in a moment. But the big picture remains the same: Facebook still wins the silicon throne.
Breaking Down the Numbers
Three general metrics are used to evaluate the current state of the social networking sites: reach, growth, and demographics. Of the 3.48 billion social media users around the world, 51 million live in Thailand. This works out to a 74% penetration rate among the country’s entire population – an impressive achievement among countries at its economic level. Active social media users in Thailand spend an average of around 3 hours a day using any kind of social media. With such a large and active audience, businesses would be wise to make these platforms a central part of their marketing campaigns.
Of 51 million total social media users in the country, an incredible 50 million of them are on Facebook. Instagram – which is, of course, owned by Facebook anyway – is in a distant second place with 13 million users. Twitter provides less than 10% of Facebook’s audience reach in Thailand, with 4.7 million users. Facebook has simply entered the cultural mainstream in a way that none of its competitors have, and people up and down the country take it for granted as a part of their everyday lives online.
If a business’s goal is to boost their brand or begin a campaign across all demographics, Facebook is the easy choice for creating awareness. Its huge potential reach comes with an average engagement rate of 4.02% for all posts. Video content continues to earn the highest engagement rate (7%) among all types of Facebook posts in Thailand.
Compared with just a few months ago, however, Facebook has actually fallen in popularity, while Twitter’s user base continues to grow. While it may simply be a case of Facebook reaching a market ceiling and having nowhere to go but down, its 2% drop in advertising reach over the last quarter is nevertheless notable and a trend worth watching. Instagram’s growth also halted during this time, but its active user numbers stayed the same nationwide. Twitter grew its total users in Thailand by 1.4% over the same 3-month period, suggesting that it may be able to spread its wings still further in the months ahead.
A Closer Look at the Users
Before an organization commits to a central social media platform for its ad campaigns, a closer look at target demographics is in order. Instagram users in Thailand are largely female (by a 62-38 ratio), while Twitter leans slightly the other way, with just 47% of users female and 53% male. Facebook’s user base in the country is split 50-50, as yet another indication of its nearly universal appeal. On balance, each marketing department would do well to choose the platform its target audiences are likely to prefer.
Facebook, moreover, is the most popular social network among online adults aged 13+, with 84% of this demographic registered as active users. The difference here between Facebook and its competitors is drastic. As a percent of total population nationwide, 22% of people aged 13+ are active on Instagram, and 7.9% are on Twitter.
As the data shows, Facebook remains far ahead of the other social media sites in terms of both scale and volume. But the tide may be starting to turn, as sites like Twitter begin to take bites out of Facebook’s market share. Attention from millennials and teens is rapidly shifting, as they continue to look out for the next cool thing. Perhaps, instead of asking who the winner is today, the better question is what the next big thing will be.
Claiming the Right Territory
Moreover, as we mentioned above, each marketing campaign should take other factors into account as well, depending on its specific needs. Different platforms serve different purposes; Instagram is better for visual art, while Twitter is unmatched in its ability to provide real-time updates. A company’s preferences will come down to what it values most: interaction, information, attractive pictures, a human connection, or something different.
As businesses become more sophisticated in their understanding of the possibilities in online advertising, social media companies will need to raise their game as well, in order to adapt. The network that figures out how to respond to the wants and needs of its users as well as its advertisers, has the best chance to rule the marketplace in the future.
In this rapidly developing social media ecosystem, the Big Three networks will continue to compete creatively for cultural influence. Each will be optimized for different marketing activities, but no single platform will be the best at everything.
For their part, advertisers should carry out detailed research to understand their target audiences on a demographic and psychographic level. Insight into the lifestyles and interests of your typical customers is also essential to let you create content that truly resonates.
Marketing in the digital age is a complex endeavor, but any company can find success by combining the right approach with talented content creators. If your organization would like to launch an effective digital marketing campaign, Lexicon can help. We provide top-quality service through every part of the process, producing on-brand content that fits best with each of the big platforms.
Lexicon is a full-service digital marketing agency in Bangkok, Thailand. We specialize in corporate storytelling and produce all of our content in-house, including branding, copywriting, video production and graphic design. We bring all of our services together and use Digital PR and social media marketing storytelling to connect our clients with the ideal target audience.