As one of the giant and influence social media platforms in Thailland, Prae Dumrongmongcolgul, Country Director of Facebook Thailand has given an exclusive interview to The Story Thailand about Facebook’s focus in Thailand this year.
Q1. What are Facebook’s business and service expansion plans for Thailand in 2021?
At Facebook Thailand, we are very clear on our long-term mission to be the leading partner for businesses and communities in Thailand to help them fully achieve their aspirations and unlock business growth through our platforms.
All of us will need to work together to navigate through the post-Covid-19 world, and there are two main focuses for Facebook this year. First, we will continue to support businesses of all sizes and from all sectors of the economy to help drive Thailand’s recovery efforts, and help them connect with their customers and communities through digital and social commerce.
We see this tremendous resiliency every day in Thailand, particularly in sectors like retail and food and beverage, or consumer products and we hope to continue seeing this in other industries as the country progresses in its recovery. During the first and second waves, we saw significant adoption of online tools and channels to continue real and personal connections with customers, such as increased use of Messenger to accept orders and finalize sales, as well as employing Facebook Live for selling goods, education or brand building activities.
People were also creating conversations and organizing virtual meets based on their interests – whether it be teaching, learning, favorite hobbies, or even discussion groups for those seeking advice – through Facebook Groups
All of these are exciting evidence that business and communities are creating new avenues to connect with their target audiences. Because of this, Facebook is able to learn and deliver new features and commercial solutions on our family of apps, as well as continue to collaborate with both the public and private sectors to further support the economic recovery of Thailand.
And the second key focus of our work is empowering communities in Thailand and upskilling them to better use digital tools to achieve their goals and visions.
Q2. What are the key Thai consumer trends on Facebook and other social media channels for 2021?
People are spending more time online and, given the economic uncertainty still ahead, their expectations of communities and businesses are evolving even more than usual. We believe 2021 will see continued growth in select trends, including:
Discovery Commerce where people of all ages are now more open to new ways of finding products and new modes of shopping, and Facebook is a perfect platform to help them be discovered. In fact, 64% of overall online purchases are now discovery led, and social media and short form video make up the largest source of online discovery (42%). Social media is an online window which users can view at any time or place to discover new items, and we will see increased engagement in shopping directly from social channels, click-and-collect and subscription services.
Purchase journeys are increasingly fluid, meaning consumers will continue to expect consistent omni channel (online-to-offline) brand experiences. Businesses now must present and deliver on-brand service across channels to progress consumers through their unique purchase journey, e.g., browsing products on social media, visiting the physical store to “touch and feel”, and potentially completing the purchase online to take advantage of discounts.
Messaging and live streams are some of the fastest growing channels, and Conversational Commerce and Live Shopping will continue to feature in 2021 as people seek interactions with brands that are beyond transactional. Over the last year, we have seen total daily conversations from people and businesses on Messenger and Instagram grow by over 40%. Meanwhile, 38% of customers have browsed Live Shopping in Thailand and over 80% of these continue to Live Shop at least once a month, interacting with brands selling across many categories, including selling new car models to fresh seafood.
Finally, augmented reality is finally coming to the fore as we enter the new era of remote presence. 81% of Thais surveyed about the technology said they have used AR in the past year – and 88% of them are interested in seeing AR features from brands, such as providing visualizations of how products may look on them in different environments or “trying things on” in a safe, virtual space. We believe this interest will continue to grow in 2021.
Q3. What will the competition between social media platforms in 2021 look like?
We are excited to see the tremendous investment by the industry over the past five years, following Facebook’s lead to help businesses and communities in Thailand fully achieve their aspirations and ensure a safe and positive online experience.
COVID-19 has taken trends that might have seen wider adoption over the next five years and compressed them into a time span of months, particularly in areas of entertainment and shopping, as more and more people turn to online channels and social media including ours to communicate.
We at Facebook consistently strive to develop and deliver features and solutions that help businesses, small or large, and this will continue to be the case in the ‘new normal’ world. People still desire better ways to create fun, meaningful and engagement content; solutions that answer the growing needs of communities or consumers, and features that allow people to connect and be closer to each other more easily.
We believe Facebook and Instagram are still the most effective solutions for communities to accomplish all their goals. The continuous growth of our platforms and business solutions also means advertisers, publishers, content creators, communities and businesses of all sizes can build brand awareness and clearly reach those who share their vision or mission.
Q4. What are some of the new features Facebook plans to launch in Thailand this year?
As previously mentioned, we continue to focus on providing shopping solutions that can help unlock growth for both SME and enterprise businesses and to be a part of the economic recovery in Thailand. Furthermore, one of our core founding missions is creating meaningful experiences relevant to Thais and reflect consumer trends, as well as providing convenient features and solutions for creators and users to connect with each other.
Facebook Thailand recently launched the Live Shopping feature for Thai sellers to make it easier for businesses to connect with their customers. Thailand is the second market to receive the Live Shopping feature after the U.S. and is available for eligible Business Pages, allowing sellers to tag products from their Facebook Shop section before going Live. The response to Live Shopping, alongside our recent rollout of Instagram Shopping in Thailand, was tremendous and we will continue to find ways to expand our support of businesses of all sizes and from all sectors.
We are also excited about uncovering new ways for users and communities across the globe to express themselves and connect through our family of apps. This includes creating special moments for our communities in Thailand, including reaction and stickers rollout to celebrate cultural moments such as the Lunar New Year or edutainment initiatives like our Love & Lock: Facebook Privacy Café Virtual Edition, where we collaborated with the famous Thai illustrator ‘Sundae Kids’ to present privacy content in a format relatable to younger generations.
Please stay tuned for other exciting new features to follow this year.
Q5. Apart from helping support eCommerce and social conversations, how else does Facebook benefit the community?
A core part of Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. Beyond conversations on our family of apps, more than 45 million people in Thailand were members of over six million active Facebook Groups, as part of the more than 650 million people living in Asia Pacific participating in Facebook Groups within April 2020 and covering every topic imaginable – from parenting to medical advice, crowdsourcing, education and more.
We have been investing in different community-related programs in Thailand including the six-month Community Accelerator program, equipping participants with the training, mentorship, and funding needed to grow their communities. We are proud to see many representative groups from Thailand, including those who work in the mental health sector, provide elderly assistance, fight for LGBTQI rights or for people with different abilities.
Recently, we launched Facebook’s Certified Community Manager program which will be available in Thai, helping local community managers — from agencies, brands, educators, and NGOs — build, grow and support their own communities.
We adapted our Boost with Facebook digital upskilling program to specifically meet the needs of Thai entrepreneurs during the pandemic, reaching over 2.3 million people in Thailand through free online training courses. We further trained 2,183 SMEs through partner Kenan Foundation Asia, and we worked with local partners to ensure 38% of participants came from historically marginalized groups and selected target populations so they can more fully participate in the new digital economy. We also continually update our accessibility features, such as Automatic Alt Text (AAT), to ensure all Thais are empowered during this challenging time.
Finally, we continue to provide educational resources and toolkits for both consumers and businesses to promote digital transformation in the country. This includes digital literacy programs such as We Think Digital Thailand, our recent Small Business Resilience: Re-emergence Guide, and working with stakeholders across industry, government and NGOs to provide authoritative information on COVID-19.
Q6. Could you please provide any key facts, insights or statistics surrounding Facebook Thailand?
Facebook in Thailand
- Over 61 million people use Facebook every month
- Over 61 million people access Facebook monthly on mobile
- Over 44 million people access Facebook daily