We know about the rise in social media and importance in which is plays on our personal lives, yet Marketbuzzz, Thailand’s innovative leader in mobile marketing research, reveals the growing importance which social media has on Thailand’s businesses, and clearly it is transforming how businesses communicate and engage with customers.
Social media has become a major part of everyday life. Often these platforms get a reputation for sharing food choices or selfies, and the usage numbers show that Thailand’s social media is one of the highest usage rates in the world yet there has been limited understanding of the importance and the role it plays for as a catalyst for business.
Marketbuzzz’s study in Thailand shows that in Thailand, irrespective of the size of the business, from small to large businesses are using social media to market and sell directly to consumers. And there are a growing number of businesses using social media to engage directly with consumers. From those that are everywhere, like Facebook, YouTube and Line, through to the less hyped but no less important, such as Linkedin and even the humble blog, social media platforms are transforming how businesses communicate and engage with consumers.
According to the research conducted by Marketbuzzz at the end of 2017 among N=2000 Thai businesses across all industries, the study shows that Thai businesses are already using social media and messaging platforms to run and grow their businesses.
According to Grant Bertoli, CEO of Marketbuzzz, the unprecedented levels of access that these platforms provide allow everyone to connect directly with potential customers and buyers on an individual basis, at a much lower cost than has ever been the case. Social media platforms have been and will continue to be an effective and efficient way of creating a sense of community with customers. These platforms also enable companies to collect important feedback about their products, their services, and their business in general so it’s not surprising to see Thais leveraging this platform for business as well as personal use.
The study also confirms that social media is impacting on business in several ways.
Social media plays an essential role in how consumers discover, research, and share information about brands and products and leveraging the power of social influence. Around 60 percent of consumers who research products online, learned about a specific retailer or brand through social networking sites. Active social media users are also more likely to read product reviews online.
According to Dr Daniel McFarlane, a digital media researcher and consultant, he shared some thoughts based on the findings that the communication landscape is increasingly fragmented. All market segments are using social media, but they are using them differently. If companies focus too much on one channel like Facebook, Line or email, they will limit who they can reach.
He also mentioned “Word of mouth has always been essential for the success of small businesses, but social platforms like Facebook and Line are empowering small businesses to harness word of mouth in ways that were not possible before. A well-planned strategy that takes into account communication behaviours of influential customers can drive business growth”.
Not only have social media platforms become an important medium for advertising, but they have also become the main mediums of direct one-to-one communication between brands and consumers. Consumers increasingly want to communicate with consumers through social and digital channels. For example, consumers are more likely to record a social media ID of a business than record its phone number or website. They are also more likely to read messages delivered by LINE than a traditional channel like email.
Consumption is increasingly a public performance through social media. Consumers display their product purchases and endorse brands in social, but also use brands to complain about their experience with businesses.
Dr McFarlane commented about the needs for business to embrace the trend of consumers who share emotions, complaints and photos of products and goods consumed as he said
“Expressing emotions and consumption choices is increasingly a public performance. Businesses should see this as an opportunity to build their brand and promote themselves”.
And social influence varies by different channels because consumers use different channels for different purposes and social contacts.
Grant Bertoli explained "Business owners and marketing strategists should ask what kinds of social relationships they want to be in since the power of social influence varies depending on the channel. Thais are using LINE mostly for communication with family and close friends and current customers and Facebook for their wider social circles so both of these channels would be used for different purposes”.
It is clear social media is being used beyond personal reasons and businesses are using social media much more than expected. It has significantly diversified the channels in which the companies need to use to communicate with their customers to the point now where becoming social is no longer a choice for business. It is essential for customer interaction and engagement.