Social media – a bargain in Southeast Asia!

Despite its diversity, it’s possible to reach an impressive market in Southeast Asia with adroit use of social media, and the cost of building an audience is a bargain compared with more developed markets.

In Thailand a report just released by the Electronic Transaction Development Agency revealed that the average time spent online has now grown to 8.3 hours a day, up 11% from the year before. Mobile devices are driving the trend, they now account for 80% of time spent online by Thais, and most of this time is spent on social media, especially Facebook, although LINE, Instagram and Twitter are also popular.

This trend is echoed in neighbouring Southeast Asian countries. A report by Adweek earlier this year found that people in the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia spend almost twice as much time using social media as those in Australia and Hong Kong, despite having less internet connectivity. Not surprisingly local companies in Thailand rely heavily on social media for their marketing and communications. Many smaller businesses don’t even bother with their own website, relying solely on Facebook to engage and attract customers.

It’s easy for them to so, as building up a Facebook presence is very cost-effective in Southeast Asia. A report by eCommerce MILO found that Malaysia has one of the best Click-Through Rates (CTR) in the world at 0.788%, while its Cost Per Click (CPC) is a fraction of the price in more developed countries. This finding was similar to a 2012 survey by Rudi Gabriel Bedy which did a benchmark survey of all the countries in Southeast Asia. Here is its comparison of CPC rates across the region: Australia ($1.08), New Zealand (0.76), Singapore (0.53), Malaysia (0.19), Thailand (0.14) Indonesia (0.14), Philippines (0.11), Vietnam (0.09), Laos (0.09) and Brunei (0.09). Although these prices may have changed, prices in some parts of Southeast Asia have actually dropped – I recently ran a campaign in Thailand for a Cost Per Click of 0.9 cents.  However Salesforce points out the CPC in the US has risen by 80% in the last seven quarters.

Given Southeast Asia’s huge population of 600 million people and high growth potential, it is certainly a market worth exploring and with local knowledge and social media, it is quite accessible.