Rangsit University, Thailand
The State of Social Media in Thailand
Social media is distinctive compared to former forms of collaborative technologies. Social media allows social interaction through the use of applications on available tools, many of which are the Internet based. These applications include applications such as Facebook, Twitter, LINE, LinkedIn, Google+, Blogs, WhatsApp, Tango, WeChat, Instagram, YouTube, and SKOUT. Social media can form relationships and create social networks. Therefore, social media has not only changed the way people communicate but also socialized. Social media has now become an essential element of many lives in Thailand.
“SixDegrees.com” was launched in 1997 is the first recognizable social media site. It allowed users to create their profiles and list their friends. It had promoted itself as a tool to assist people connect with and send messages to others. Although SixDegrees.com had attracted the number of users in millions, it failed to become a sustainable. The site closed in 2000. Despite this, the origin of social media in Thailand was dated back to 1995 when the Internet became commercialized. “Talk on Unix”, “Pirch”, “ICQ”, “QQ”, and “MSN or Windows Live Messenger” were once, five of the most popular social media applications in Thailand.
Thailand was ranked 7th in terms of time spent on social media each day in 2016. Almost 38 million of 68.05 million have active social media accounts with the growth rate of 19%. Facebook is the top active social platform. Approximately 30 million are Facebook users, followed by 26.2 YouTube users, and Twitter and Instagram at 4.5 and 1.7 million respectively in Thailand. Out of the 30 million Facebook users, 28 million users are actively on mobile devices. Added to this, a single YouTube user visits approximately 16.6 times per month spending about 17.3 minutes per visit. 3.4 of 4.5 million Twitter users tweet in Thai. Moreover, there are 24 million LINE users in Thailand with the current growth rate of +20%. Thailand is ranked 2nd place in the world with most LINE users after Japan.
More importantly, the use of social media has wide-ranging and multi-dimensional impacts locally and internationally. The impact on individuals, businesses, governments or society at large can be intended or unintended, positive or negative. While social media facilitates the development of social movement and the business systems in Thailand, a country like Thailand is still facing with many related issues. Hence, to fully understand Thailand’s social media, it is critical to understand the extent of social media beyond the technological aspects.