In an earlier blog post, I talked about Thailand’s ICT usage and found that Thailand has a higher usage than many developing countries. Unsurprisingly, Thailand is also very active in social media.
Thailand has a population of approximately 69 million people. About 30% are online, according to Internet World Stats.
comScore reported that social networking is used by 96% of internet users and accounts for 30% of all time spent online in Thailand, with the third top website visited being Facebook. As of February 2013, there are over 18 million Thai facebook users, which ranks Thailand 13 in the world. Thailand has added over 1,000,000 new Facebook users in just the last six months. Twitter and Instagram are not as popular, with only 1.5 million Twitter accounts and 800,000 pictures on Instagram with the hashtag “#Thailand.” Thailand’s Facebook usage is extremely high – 74% compared to 47% in Italy, according to GlobalWebIndex.
Many attribute the large growth and use of Facebook in Thailand to gaming – a huge industry in Thailand. Many young Thai’s also enjoy Facebook for connecting with friends and sharing pictures.
Marcello Mari, Social Engagement Lead at GlobalWebIndex said, “Thailand is definitely one of the most interesting markets for what concerns the Social Media landscape. At GlobalWebIndex we track 31 countries in the World and we recently rolled out a simple and comparable measure which enables the exploration of how engaged different markets are. Asia (with the exception of Japan) dominates, with China leading the way regardless of the demographics compared. Thailand ranks 9th in this peculiar list behind Brazil, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia, the most engaged country in the world according to the SEB [Social Engagement Benchmark] score.”
Social media is being used by the Thailand Department of Tourism to promote special events, festivals, and to attract tourists. Additionally, social media has played a role in natural disasters in Thailand, such as the floods in 2011. Social media sites helped Thai’s relay important information to their networks, which both helped save lives and keep the public informed, but attracted many more users, says reporter Michelle Fitzpatrick. Social media also plays an important political role in Thailand, helping connect activists and spread awareness. This is especially critical and sometimes dangerous under Thailand’s strict lese-majeste laws, for which the punishment is 15 years in prison. Social media is starting to play a larger role in elections, however due to political tensions, it is often monitored and censored during elections.
Overall, Thailand’s social media use is impressive, especially for a developing country. The usage is growing and shows a lot of promise and potential.