Brands behaving like toddlers in social media, says We Are Social boss

Southeast Asia is the world’s most active region on the internet and one of the most active in social media, a study by We Are Social revealed today.

However, few marketers in Southeast Asia are using social media well, the social marketing agency’s Asia boss Simon Kemp has said.

No country spends longer every day on the internet than the Philippines, followed by Thailand, We Are Social’s report finds. Vietnam, Indonesia, India and Malaysia also feature in the top 10.

Time spent online

Source: We Are Social

As for social media, the Philippines emerges as Asia’s most sociable country and the world’s second highest user of social media. Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand also figure in the top 10.

Source: We Are Social

Source: We Are Social

Active monthly social media users rose 23 per cent across Southeast Asia in a year, compared to an average of 10 per cent growth across Asia Pacific.

Kemp told Mumbrella: “Social is now a ‘mainstream’ medium, and brands need to start thinking more about what social really means to them, and the and how to use it more effectively.”



“Most brands now make use of social media in some way, but few of them are using it well, especially in Southeast Asia; most of the activity we see focuses on promotion and sales, which misses the real opportunities social presents: to better understand people and their needs, and to establish richer and more meaningful communications with them,” he said.

“Far too many brands use social as a broadcast channel, which is like expecting to be the centre of attention at someone else’s party,” he added.

“They’re asking audiences to shower them with adoration, instead of using social media to get to know the people they care about, understand their lives, needs and motivations, and actually demonstrate that they care about other people, beyond their own brands and business targets.”

“If brands are going to be ‘social’, they need to learn empathy, consideration and generosity – not simply buy a stack of Facebook ads,” Kemp said.

The We Are Social boss noted that as recently as four years ago, brands have almost all “acted like infants” – they just assume that they are the centre of the universe, and that people will revolve around them.

“All of a sudden, though, with the advent of social, they’re realising this may not really be the case; they’re not the most important part of people’s lives, and in actual fact, most people really don’t care all that much,” he said.

“But, just like a toddler who’s becoming socially aware, it’s not that the world has changed; it’s just that they’ve suddenly become aware of reality, and for many brands, like the ones you cited, that realisation is painful,” Kemp added.

He suggested that brands now have a choice – to ignore reality, and go on acting like they always have done or, like adults, to “learn to become a more socially apt entity – to embrace the opportunity to genuinely ‘make friends and influence people’ through socially appropriate behaviour.”

Kemp said this would prove to be “a long and uncomfortable journey for many, but in the long-run it’ll be far less painful and uncomfortable than not doing it.”

The biggest story to emerge from the report for Asia is the rise of mobile, particularly in Southeast Asia, Kemp suggests. In this sub-region, mobiles are already, if not quickly becoming, the most widespread medium, even compared to television – still by far the most dominant in Southeast Asia by spend, he said.

Almost half of Southeast Asia’s mobile connections are now classed as 3G or 4G. This, Kemp says, means faster connection speeds, and therefore greater potential for rich content experiences.

However, Kemp said that feature phone handsets still dominate, and although smartphones are catching up fast, many of Asia’s users are still limited to small screens, basic web browsers, and a limited selection of apps. “So marketers hoping to use mobile in developing nations need to adopt a dual-device strategy when it comes to mobile if they want to reach the fullest extent of the audience,” he said.

The data also revealed that Hong Kong leads the world for mobile broadband, followed by Japan.

Mobile broadband

Source: We Are Social

Asia is also home to the world’s fastest internet connection speeds, with Korea leading the way, followed by Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore – then the US.

Internet connection speed

Source: We Are Social

Asia also leads the world for mobile commerce, with South Korea having the highest percentage of the population to have bought something using their mobile device, followed by China. Singapore and Hong Kong also feature in the top five.

Mobile commerce

Source: We Are Social

To read We Are Social’s report in full, click here.


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