While working in Thailand I, obviously, can not stop my social media addiction. So I thought why not dive into the local social media atmosphere and check out local behaviour and usage. Having that said and not being able to write Thai this was – and still is – a huge adventure. But thanks to some of my students I was already able to get a glance at the common usage and user behaviour. At least in the segment I teach. 16 – 19 year old college students. The size of my peer group measured about 200 students in the above mentioned age. So it is obviously not representative, but a first glance.
When talking about Social Media – no matter in which country – you obviously think about Facebook and Twitter. With Twitter still being a nerd thing. And, without any surprise, both of those two players play a big part in Thailands social media landscape. But they are, by far, not the only ones that matter. Nevertheless I have to say that facebook has the biggest growth on it’s side. During the last 3 months many students started to use facebook.
I play facebook
When I ask my students “what did you do yesterday?” and the repsond with “I played games in the internet” (what is a quite usual answer) the refer almost everytime to facebook. When asking about facebook they don’t say “I hang out at facebook” or “I chat at facebook” – they usually say “I play facebook”. That’s a interesting development for me to see and, at least in my chosen peer group, a big reason for facebooks current success over here in Thailand. Zynga helps facebook to take on Hi5.
Yes, Hi5! Pretty unknown back home in Europe or the US, but a BIG player all over Asia and the NUMBER ONE here in Thailand. Still. Almost every student is on Hi5. That’s simply what you do when having internet access. A hi5 account is crucial. No discussion.
For all of those who don’t know Hi5. Just imagine the old Myspace and….well that’s enough. Just imagine the old Myspace. A lot of blinking and colors and pictures and colors….that’s what it takes in Asia to be successful 😉
Myspace in Thailand
Talking about Myspace. It still has many fans and students tell me they still use it from time to time. But since it changed it’s USP (finally has one?) the kids over here don’t like to much anymore. The growth is on facebook’s site and myspace seems to lose ground to the common user – like everywhere else in the world. Let’s see if the Thai music scene adapts the new myspace concept….
When asking students about their favorite social media sites, and I did not mention Twitter, they all of a sudden responded “Teacher, Twitter! We use twitter too”. That really hit me since we all know: The youth isn’t using twitter. But many students (compared to what I expected) knew twitter and some of them even use it quite regularly. Many of them are using it as kind of chat-replacment or additoinal chat programm. But hey…we all needed to give it a try to figure out for what it’s worth, right?
Websites to hang out
Besides social media usage I also wanted to know what the sites with the biggest attention span are in Thailand. Usually you expect stuff like youtube or failblog to appear in the top 5. Youtube obviously did but the rest are Thailand specific sites. No international ones with sanook (the thai word for ‘fun’) being the number one. Nevertheless I’ve been told that it’s actually ‘uncool’ to hang out on sanook – or at least it is uncool to tell that you are doing it. But according to the numbers almost everybody does. Besides sanook the thai music site ‘pleng‘ has a lot of users and fans as well as the cam-chat site camfrog (like chatroulette).
As mentioned in the ‘social communites’ paragraph facebook is widely used for games – so actually it would fit in here as well. I left it out since I still consider it a social community at first – but if taken into account it would have made it to number 3 in this chart.
Being a fan of mobile phones and the possibility to go everywhere online I already blogged about mobile phone usage in Thailand. That’s why I won’t tell everything from the beginning again. But I want to add how my students usually go online. While the iPhone or Android phones as well as windows phones coming up and gaining attention due to their fancy styling and commercials, OVI phones (to say it clear: OLD NOKIA PHONES) are currently a very common way to publish things to facebook (the main reason to use a phone for going online) and co. Many students have those very basic Nokia phones that allow you to see the www on a very very tiny screen (I feel like 2005 when talking about this). But that’s enough for most of them. Epsecially since the iPhone is ridiculously expensive. So right now OVI is the way to go. But, as mentioned in my previous post, Windows is trying to close the gap with special deals for students.
Reason to go online
My last question to my students was “why do you go online”. Asking 16 – 19 year old students I was not that surprised about the answer but nervertheless I little shocked by the fact that really only very very few use the internet for their studies or information gathering. Also interesting: Online Shopping is still kind of a no go and only for nerds & geeks. So the number one reason for going online is obviously playing games followed by chatting with friends (or strangers. camfrog!) and listening to music. At the far far end: studying. But that’s one of my personal tasks over here – make my students e-learning aware. I am working on it.
Right now all those numbers presented are based on my research within the college. So far I did not compare it to the overall traffic and trends that could be measured. If there is enough time in the near future or the demand by you guys, I will do so and compare this data on a bigger scene.