Digital Media in Thailand

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Thailand, officially known as the Kingdom of Thailand, is located in Southeast Asia. The country is often referred to as the golden land, not because there is precious metal buried underground but because the country gives off a certain lustre, be it the fertile rice fields of the central plains, white sandy beaches or the warm hospitality of its citizenry. Thailand is the world's 51st-largest country in terms of total area, with an area of approximately 513,000 km2 (198,000 sq mi), and is the 20th-most-populous country, with around 64 million people. The capital and largest city is Bangkok, which is Thailand's political, commercial, industrial and cultural hub. The country's official language is Thai although English is also widely used. The primary religion is Buddhism, which is practiced by around 95% of the population. Most of Thailand’s GDP comes from exports, such as rice, textiles and electronic devices, but with great food, a tropical climate, fascinating culture and great beaches, Thailand is a magnet for travelers all around the world and tourism is a important sector for the country.

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Digital Literacy

Internet Penetration

According to Internet World Stats, Thailand is ranked 9th in 2011 amongst countries in Asia, in terms of number of Internet users. Currently the population of Thailand is at 66.7 million; the country has an internet penetration rate of approximately 31%[1] in the fourth quarter of 2011, which is an increase of 4.7% since 2010. Across Asia, Thailand has one of the lowest internet penetration levels. According to the managing director of Nielson Consumer division in Thailand, Aaron Cross, this level of penetration coupled with the infrequent rate at which consumers are accessing the internet reinforces that digital media has significant growth opportunities in Thailand.[2]

Internet Growth in Thailand Thailand’s internet user population has grown by approximately 700% from 2000 to 2011[3] and by 2009, more than 9.92% of all households in Thailand would have broadband.[4]

Population Statistics of Internet Users

33% of males and 30% of females in Thailand are internet users. A large proportion of teenagers (aged 15-19) use the internet (76% of the age group)

In particular, female internet sites are popular as the result of online shopping. The age structure of Thailand’s internet users continues to develop towards maturity. Internet users under the age of 25 consist of more than half of the total internet population in Thailand.

Broadband Connection in Thailand Thailand is a slow starter in the broadband market, and broadband users began to pick up only in 2005.The most prevalent mode of broadband access is ADSL lines. Despite the penetration rate is low (about 2%), the country was listed as one the five Asian countries ranked among the world’s top 10 fastest-growing consumer broadband markets.[5]In 2010, there are 1,335,000 Inter hosts in Thailand, which is the highest in South East Asia.[6]

According to Akamai's report, Thailand has achieved an average measured broadband speed of 2.8Mbps in 2010, ranking 8th in Asia Pacific and 50th in the world.

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Mobile Penetration

Thailand's Mobile Market

The Thai mobile market continues to grow. By mid-2009 there were 64 million mobile subscribers in the country and penetration was around the 100% mark. The subscriber numbers were up from 30 million in 2005.[7]

By the end of 2010,Thailand has a population of 67.5 million with a GDP per capita of USD 1,275. It is estimated that mobile telecoms spending is approximately 2% of GDP. As of December 2010, the total number of mobile subscribers reached 70.8 million, representing a penetration rate of 105% of the total population. This would be translated to a penetration rate of 75% with an estimated number of multiple SIMs of 25%.

There are five mobile operators in Thailand, four of which operate a GSM network(AIS,DTAC, True Move,TOT-3G) and one on a CDMA (Hutch-CAT) network. The top three major players (all GSM)command 98% of the total market share and all claim to have more than 80% population coverage nationwide.

The majority of mobile subscribers in Thailand are prepaid and account for 90% of the total market. Post-paid, unlike in many countries, is not on a contractual basis. Brand-new handsets in Thailand cost as little as USD30 and lower price handsets are also available through local brand and the vast second-hand market.



3G Subscriptions in Thailand

3G Mobile

Thais are amongs Asia’s most avid mobile internet users according to a report from research firm Nielsen in 2011.[8]

56% of Thais who surf the internet intend to do so via a mobile phone within the next 12 months. Another 29% intend to access the internet via other handheld devices. Managing director of Nielsen Consumer division in Thailand, Aaron Cross, mentioned that Thailand is one of the last few countries that does not have a commercial 3G network. However, mobile technology is quickly developing due to the uprising social media wave and the introduction of smart phones. This makes it much easier for consumers to gain access to the web conveniently.

However, Thailand lags behind many of its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of 3G deployment, despite having a relatively high GDP per capita. However, with the increasing popularity of web application and social media, the government realized that 3G network will play an important role in future connectivity. Early this year the two government-owned operators TOT and CAT made agreements to upgrade their 2G networks to 3G while the private operators such as AIS and DTAC will still wait for the license. Nevertheless, it is soon for us to see Thailand being covered by full and public 3G.


Usage of Smartphone

Based on a survey by Kasikorn Research Centre (KResearch) in 2011, 50.4% of the population in Bangkok own smart phones. 56% of those being surveyed are aged 20 to 24.[9]

Most of the respondents indicated using mobile phones with various functions such as camera, playing games and web browsing which includes Edge, Wifi and 3G. We can infer that the Thais now want to use mobile phones with integrated functions.

Smart phones account for 20% of Thailand's mobile internet in 2009. It is expected to take up to 33.2% of the market. With the soon-to-be ready 3G network and the surge of smart phones, we would expect a strong growth in handset sales and mobile data communication services this year.


Facts about Mobile Internet[10]

Thailand's mobile internet users universe has grown at a rate of 400% since 2008.

The number of mobile broadband users in Thailand is expected to grow around 1.66 million in 2010, up from 595,000 in 2009.By 2014, that number is expected to reach nearly 30 million.

Thailand's non-voice mobile data market is expected to generate THB30 billion in revenues in 2010, representing growth rate of 30% on 2009.

Mobile data usage in Thailand grew by 176% in 2009.

Mobile internet users in Thailand averaged 305 page views per user in June 2009, 238% more than in June 2008.

More than 50% of Thais access social network sites via their mobile phones.



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Digital Media Platforms

A Top 10 List of Websites in Thailand





Blogs

Blogger

The most popular blogging service in Thailand is Blogger. It has 2,240,000 users, and it is the fourth most commonly used social networks as of 25 May 2010. In addition, domestic blogging services are available. It is partly due to the Internet censorship imposed by the government: for example, WordPress is currently being blocked in Thailand. Another reason is Thailand’s low level of English proficiency. Thus, people would prefer to use services in Thai which can gather a large group of Thai population.



Exteen

A blogging service aimed at teens and reports one of the highest online traffic in Thailand. It is the 7th most commonly used social networks as of 25 May 2010.



Bloggang

Another popular blog site in Thailand. It is the 8th most commonly used social networks as of 25 May 2010.



OKNation

A special blogging service which targets at “citizen journalist” bloggers.




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Microblogging

Twitter

Since it was first launched in 2006, Twitter has been enjoying steady growth in Thailand. According to business intelligence firm Sysomo’s research, Thailand is the 7th biggest Twitter country in Asia and ranked 25th in the world. The estimated total twitter users are about 720,000 in late 2009[11]and it is the 10th most used social networks as of 25 May 2010, with an average of 600,000 users.[12]

Even though Twitter is still a niche, it is becoming an increasingly significant platform in Thailand. It allows the Thais to express their opinions and share their views about issues such as the “red-shirt” protest.

In addition, the number of Twitter users has begun to increase in 2011 with most new users being Celebrities, Actors/Actresses, Reporters and Politicians.

Despite the belief that Twitter will play a large role in the 2011 Thai Election to revitalize the country’s democracy, it did not materialize as people were not be able to comment on any candidate or party in the election. Anyone caught campaigning during the election on social media such as Twitter would be imprisoned and slammed with a hefty fine.[13]

However, there are many other opportunities for Thais to use Twitter. For instance,In early 2010, Twitter is first used to broadcast real-time wedding by a Thai couple[14]. Thailand's Twitter users created various hashtags such as #hismajesty and #weloveking to celebrate their King’s birthday last year.[15]

Furthermore, Twitter also brought opportunities for online advertising. According to The Nation, more than 100 Thai companies of all descriptions have already boarded the “new-media bandwagon” by opening Twitter accounts. They include Boon Rawd Brewery (@Singha_Beer), Central Department Store (@Centralnews), Fuji Restaurant (@Welovefuji) and Kasikornbank (@KBank_Live).
Twitter is accessible via channels like web, mobile phones, and desktop applications. Something particularly interesting is that Black Berry is the second highest mode users used to access Twitter, with a hit rate of 15.92%. [16] Twitter trends in Thailand can be tracked using Thailand Trending, which shows the 1 day hashtag, mention, vowel and client usage in Thailand.


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Instant Messaging

In Thailand, according to PWC’s “Convergence Monitor” survey, 90% of the people have used instant messaging at least once.[17] Furthermore, there is a widespread of mobile instant messaging across the country. According to recent statistics from Effective Measure, 38% of the Thai online audience have access to mobile Internet.[18] Hence this has helped improve the popularity of mobile instant messaging.

Whatsapp is a hugely popular application across Blackberry and Andriod users in Thailand. In addition, Blackberry’s very own messaging service (Blackberry Messenger, BBM) is another popular choice among Thais. Such mobile instant messaging services engaging people to contact friends on any type of device on the go. [19]

Search Engines

Google

Thailand has no major local Search Engine, such as Baidu for China or Naver for South Korea. Instead, the most prominent search engine used is Google. In a joint study by the National Science and Technology Development Agency and Internet Innovation Research Cetre, Google was shown to have captured 99% of the market, making it the most popular serach engine by a landslide.[20]

There has also been a growing trend in Thai people using search engines for research as well as search related activities.[21] As Google is the most popular search engine, SEO strategies should be Google-centric.

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Social Networking Sites

85% of Thailand’s Internet users visit social media sites at least once a week. Among the younger generations, social networking sites are the preferred mode of staying in touch with their peers.[22] The top reason for using the internet among teenagers aged 14-19 is social networking.[23] Due to the high Internet penetration in Thailand, there is a significant increase in the number of people who uses social networking services.


Facebook started with 160,000 users in 2008 and has steadily grown to become one of the most well known social networking sites in Thailand.


Hi5 is neck to neck with Facebook in terms of Internet popularity. It was the most popular mobile social network.[24]


Myspace A social networking site that allows users to customize profiles and add photos, music and comments.


LinkedIn A business related social-networking site mainly used for professional networking



Facebook

It is the number one most popular user-gernerated content website and the most used social networks as of 25 May 2010 in Thailand Currently, there are 14 Million Facebook users in the Thailand, which makes it #16 in the ranking of all Facebook statistics by country.[25]

In 2010, Facebook gained popularity as it enabled its users to play games online with their friends. This feature is not available on Hi5, which is their main competitor. Hence, overtime, Facebook overtook Hi5 in terms of number of users. Some of the Facebook games which are appealing to the Thai users include Farmville, Café World, and Restaurant City.

The majority of the Facebook users in Thailand are in the capital, Bangkok.

In addition, social networking statistics show that Facebook penetration in Thailand is 21.44% compared to the country's population and 81.41% in relation to number of Internet users. The total number of FB users in Thailand grew by more than 12% in the last 6 months.[26]

Comparing these nearest countries by penetration of Facebook users shows that Thailand has similar levels of FB penetration as Romania and and Poland.[27]

Most Facebook users are aged between 18 and 34 years.[28] and comprises 52% of Female users.[29] Many Thais perceive Facebook as an extension of their normal lives. Typically, online users spend about 57.7% of their time on the site. [30]

Facebook's community-based approach allows it to complement the strong culture of mass participation and friendly group activities in Thailand. The people use Facebook to share photos, videos and comments, to voice opinions, show support, show-off, flirt, fight, gossip, chat and more. In line with general 24/7 nature of life in Thailand, Facebook is open all hours and Facebooking is engaged day and night. [31]

Facebook is widely used for games, especially by students. Facebook also gained popularity as a social platform that allows its users to play games online with their friends. This feature is not available on Hi5, which is their main competitor. Hence, overtime, Facebook has gradually overtaken Hi5 in terms of the number of users. Popular Facebook games include Farmville, Café World, and Restaurant City.

Hi5

A social networking site that is a big player in Thailand. It is the 3rd most popular user-generated content website and the 3rd most used social networks with 2.6 million users as of May 2010.[32] It is said that almost every student has an account there and it is a big influence on local youth. 79% of users are between 13 and 24 years of age. [33] Hi5 enables users to create their own profiles, upload photos, and share them with friends.[34] Online users spend about 65.5% of their time on the site. [35] However, Hi5's popularity and user growth rate has been decreasing since 2010.

Myspace

While it has seen a worldwide decline in popularity, Myspace is still used by students and people who want to make friends with Thai people. The Thai music scene has yet to use the Myspace format for promoting music. [36] Myspace offers an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music and videos.[37]

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 150 million members and growing rapidly. The number of LinkedIn user has also been increasing steadily in Thailand. In 2011, there are 295,000 users of LinkedIn in Thailand.


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Location Based Services

Foursquare

Foursquare is a location-based social network with more than 8 million users worldwide. In 2011, the number of Four Square users in Thailand is 152,000.[38] This exceeds the number of users in Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand. On 1 September 2011, Foursquare included the Thai language to the platform.[39]

Kasikom Bank, a bank in Thailand, created an exclusive Debit Card for their Foursquare fans. The promotion required people to check-in and fulfill some basic bank functions before they can redeem the Card.[40]

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Video-Sharing Websites

Youtube is the most popular video-sharing website in Thailand. Although Thailand does have its own local video-sharing website, Duclip.com, its popularity is insignificant as compare to Youtube. Sanook is a popular local forum in Thailand that contains video sharing function. When comparing Sanook's video's traffic with Youtube's, shown in the graph below, Youtube still earns a large amount of share for video sharing in Thailand.

Some of the reasons which make Youtube more popular in Thailand is due to the iimprovements in, and spread of, broadband speed and connectivity. This enables people to upload and watch videos faster and more easily than before


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Bulletin Board System/Forums

4 out of the 10 most popular user-generated content sites in Thailand are web portal and web board. Web boards are internet forums or message boards for online conversations on current issues. [41]

Sanook

Sanook is the 4th most popular user-generated content websites in Thailand as of 25 March 2010. It has over 2.6 million users in Thailand.[42] Sanook.com is the highest place Thai-language website beaten only by global heavyweights like Google, YouTube, Windows Live, and Facebook.[43]

Pantip

Pantip is a popular Thai-language website and discussion forum. It is the 5th most popular user-generated content websites in Thailand as of 25 March 2010, with over 2.1 million users.[44] People of diverse backgrounds participate in Pantip.com as members, ticker pass-holders, or readers. There are many famous people in Thailand who are users of Pantip, for instance, film directors, best-selling writers, and NGO activist.

Mthai

Mthai is the 7th most popular user-generated content websites in Thailand as of 25 March 2010.[45] It has been around since 13 June 1998 and receives approximately 1 million page views per day and generates nearly $3,056 every day in advertising revenue.[46]

Dek-d

Dek-d has 1.2 million users and it is the 8th most popular user-generated content websites in Thailand as of 25 March 2010. [47] Majority of the visitors to the site are from 15 to 22 years old. Of the total, 34 per cent are college students and more than 50 per cent are secondary-school students. There are nearly 100,000 visitors to the site every day. [48]

Market Trends

Businesses

How do Businesses in Thailand use Social Media?

Due to the increased usage of social media and the increased demand for data services, Attaphon Satidkanitkul, Research Manager of International Date Corporation(IDC) Thailand mentioned that "enterprises in Thailand will be evolving to better leverage the benefits of this new platform to drive their business forward in Thailand”. [49] IDC predicts that business would spend more on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for the year 2011.

As enterprises tap on social media for their business, they play on the 'personal touch' factor that social media is able to achieve. Enterprises invite close friends and customers to participate in business, especially the new generation, via the use of social media. Social media inspires and influence the behavior of internet users, such as purchasing a particular product, by stimulating and attracting them to participate in online activities. This participation makes the purchasing process more personalized, hence, the increase sales. More businesses in Thailand use social media as a marketing tool to reach out to a wider audience.[50]

Digital Marketing & Advertising

Amongst the Asia-Pacific countries, businesses in Thailand are relatively active on social media channels. With increased importance of social media for corporate uses, more and more companies have also surfaced offering social media marketing services. One such company is Inceva, whose business revolves completely around social media markting, search optimizations, advertising online, web design and such. Another example is Economic Intelligence Center (EIC), a unit of Siam Commercial Bank PCL. EIC has published a guide for businesses to better adapt in this social media era.

Economy

Thailand is a newly industrialized economy. It relies heavily on exports, which accounted for more than two thirds of their gross domestic product (GDP). Thailand experienced a GDP growth by 8.0% in 2010, making it one of the fastest growing economies in Asia and the fastest growing economy in South East Asia. Thailand has strong automobile industry which grew by 63% in 2010 with 1.6 million cars produced. Tourism revenues are on the rise and contribute to about 6% of GDP.

Amazing Thai App

Tourism

The Tourism Authority of Thailand(TAT) had organized the first competition for the medical-tourism blogger to advertise the quality of the superior treatments and procedures available in Thailand. The winners get to share the grand prize of nearly US$20,000 worth of cash and prizes. TAT makes use of social media to promote online for the tourism industry in many other opportunities too. They introduced "Amazing Thailand" mobile application available for popular devices like IPhone, Blackberry, and Android. This application has more than 120,000 fans on its Facebook fan page, which is ranked one of the top 3 tourism promotion organizations of the world, and Twitter @ThailandFanClub for foreign tourists and @Go2Thailand for Thai travellers.[51] TAT relies heavily on social media to promote its reputation online, and reaches out to audience around the world.

Recently this year, TAT developed a new webpage where tourists can access and download new apps for their smartphones from. These will all aid in their planning of trips – customisable to various needs of a vacation, honeymoon, educational purposes etc. This saves them time and effort of sourcing information from different sources. Currently 19 apps can be downloaded free of charge. A special app “Speak Thai” has also been made to provide conversational level Thai knowledge, with basic translations in several foreign languages like Chinese, Japanese, French, and Russian.

An important sub-industry in tourism is the hotel business. Hotels in Thailand have been engaging in social media to stimulate tourism and better occupancy for themselves. Those hotels belonging to the higher class (e.g. 4-star, 5-star) are more aggressively advertising through social media channels beyond just using their official websites. According to statistics collected from the Thai Hotels Association (THA) member hotels, hotel occupancy for 2011 in Thailand was 59.21%, showing an increase of 12.45% from 2010.[52]The THA president, Mr Prakit Chinamornpong, reported that the hotel industry had aimed to hit 62-65%.

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Society

Red-Shirts Movement

More liked-minded protestors make use of social media to gather support and arrange rallies. Protestors, who opposed the UDD political party, organize rallies to show their dismay for the UDD party in Facebook, and Twitter of a smaller extent. [53] The increase use of social media to organize protests would be a phenomenon of Thailand for the near future.

Receive Real-Time news

As seen from 2011 Protests, traditional media lagged behind social media in providing updates on the situation. The number of subscribers on Twitter and Facebook increase tremendously at this period of time as subscribers follow users who provide instant updates on the protest. The growing needs of real-time information in Thailand cause the surge in membership of the social media.[54]

Citizens Turn to Social Media For Help

With the tragic floods striking Thailand in July 2011, water levels in Bangkok rose uncontrollably. In such a helpless case, Thai citizens turned to the Internet for updates and news.

Mktchannelscost.png

Search giant Google stepped in to develop a crisis map which clearly indicated the areas that were unsafe from the effects of flooding. Other websites helped to update the map when new information was discovered. A resource thaflood.com was developed as well, to give people specific information on the location of evacuation cnetres and shelters. Besides the Internet, a Thaifloodreporter app was also available for smartphone users to be aware of latest situation. The social media scene was also buzzing continuosly with discussions and sharing information including videos and pictures. Facebook and Twitter were major players in acting as platforms for conversations to take place.[55]

Profilerating Drinkers

With companies jumping onto the social media bandwagon, alcoholic beverage companies followed suit too. They made use of social media to entice young drinkers by making use of cartoons and stuffed toys to promote their products. Researchers claimed that lack of stringent regulation led to this proliferation of big brands’ alcohol marketing on social media, via Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Many young users dominate these channels, thus alcohol companies can best reach out to their target audience. Moreover, by sharing photos and videos even friends of the audience started recognising the brands. On top of this what made social medai so attractive to alcohol companies was the impact that rippled from it at least expense.[56]

Government

The use of social media in political election is becoming more popular in Thailand, as can be seen from the upcoming 2011 General Election. The advertising industry expects spendings to be between Bt500 million to Bt1 billion by the candidates for the pre-election period for this election. About 30% of this expenses would be spent on advertising on social media channels. Some statistics on the usage of social media by the Democrat Party in the upcoming General Election.[57]

Democrat Party deputy leader Apirak Kosayodhin said all the party's electoral candidates had Facebook and Twitter accounts, with Democrat leader and outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva the most active, with 612,796 "like" on his Facebook page and 194,314 Twitter followers. Apirak said 170,761 people liked the Facebook fan page of Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij, who have 81,491 Twitter |followers. The Democrat Party also has its own Facebook page, with 16,742 fan-page likes, and a Twitter page, with 3,018 followers. Apirak mentioned the integration of the social media channels into their website to provide more updates on the policies and activities for the election. Their next time is to integrate traditional media with the social media channels to provide instant clarifications on the publications.

As the number of social media's membership increases significantly in Thailand, political candidates are starting to tap on this new platform to advertise for their campaign. They reach out to a wider audience, especially the youth, and get them involve by discussing policies and politics with them.

There has also been calls for the Election Commission (EC) to set clear guideline to how social media can be used by political parties. On the 29th May 2011, EC inspector Cholaraj Jittanaitham has stated that parties are required to declare the cost of their social media campaigns and that five EC members are still discussing the rules to be implemented for new media. Online "violations" would also be considered on a case-by-case basis. In regards to the law prohibiting anyone from promoting a political party or MP candidates after 6pm on the eve of the election day, the EC has stated that online campaign content would not be blocked but there must be no additions after 6pm.[58]

With regards to the law prohibiting anyone from promoting a political party or MP candidates after 6pm on the eve of the election day, the EC has stated that online campaign content would not be blocked but there must be no additions after 6pm.[59]

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Regulations

Websites are regulated in Thailand using different methods.

The largest is the Royal Thai Police, blocking 32,500 websites. The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) also blocks indirectly by “requesting” the blocking of websites by the 54 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Thailand. There was also some direct blocking unspecified sites by the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) which was, until recently, Thailand’s only Internet gateway. MICT now no longer circulates their blocklist to ISPs but relies on enforcement from Thailand’s four Internet gateways: CAT, Telephone Organisation of Thailand (TOT), True Internet and Buddy Broadband.

Media watchers FACT Thailand said that the number of blocked and blacklisted websites had reached 113,000 by June 15 2010, making Thailand the first country in the world to hit that number. [60]

The blocking of websites are not just limited to local pages. Foreign pages have been blocked as well, such as Youtube in 2007 [61], and more recently WikiLeaks.[62]

While there has been no formal criteria for which websites are blocked, websites allegedly containing material which are lèse majesté are on the ban list. This falls under Thailand's Criminal Code. On the 29th April 2010, a man was arrested for allegedly posting an offensive messages on Facebook about the monarchy, reportedly being the first Facebook user to be arrested under the Code. [63]


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Controversies

In December 2010, a 16 year-old girl was involved in an accident with a minivan. 8 passengers in the minivan were killed but the girl escaped with minor injuries. A photo was later released showing the girl using her smart phone immediately after the accident in front of the wreckage. The local press hinted that she might not be given the full punishment as she was considered a minor and thus not fully liable for criminal and civil liability. [64]

This angered the online community in particular and sparked a hate page on Facebook, which received more than 150,000 likes in less than 18 hours after it was created.[65] and reached more than 300,000 likes by 11th January 2011.[66] Comments on the page ranged from mild criticism to outrage, as well comments asking people not to pass early judgement on the girl.

However, the online community continued with its anger by taking to twitter. A hashtag was created in order to collect the comments against the girl and ended up being the top hashtag in Thailand on the 30th December 2010. (see image) A user was also wrongly singled out by the twitter community as being the girl. This led to the user to be the most mentioned on the same day as well as receiving a lot of hate messages before the mistake had been discovered.[67] Her phone number was also circulated online, which led to several threats made directly to her phone. Her family's phone numbers and photos were also posted online and there were also rumours she had fled overseas She was later hospitalized due to stress from the threats.

This incident was also mentioned by Jon Russell in the Podcast interview under Hear from the Experts.

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Recommendations

Market Trends to Observe

Jon Russell gives an interesting perspective on the market trends to look out for in 2011, in the area of digital and technology in Thailand.

1. More competitive, growing smartphone Industry
2. Progress on 3G
3. Growth in internet access fueled by mobile
4. Growth in social networking
5. Greater adoption of social media marketing by business
6. Growth in the importance of new media as a news tool
7. Emergence of group buying sites (and e-commerce generally)
8. Location gets (more) relevant
9. Beginnings of the loss of interest of BBM (Black Berry Messenger)
10. Huge digital divides remain

From: Asian Correspondent [68]

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Hear from the Experts

Podcast

Interview with Jon Russell

Mr. Jon Russell is a Social Media consultant for an international company based in Bangkok and a blogger for Asian Correspondent. He has been living in Thailand since 2008.

Podcast Summary: Jon will be speaking about how social media usage has changed over the last few years as well as the online behavior of Thailand. He will also be talking about how in Thailand as well as a case of how social media was used in an online hate-mob. The interview finishes with his views on how he thinks social media will progress in the future.

Listen to the Interview here

Follow Jon Russell on:
Blog on Asian Correspondant: http://asiancorrespondent.com/jon-russell
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/jonrussell
Linked In: http://th.linkedin.com/in/jmarussell
Quora: http://www.quora.com/Jon-Russell

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Case Study

Bangkok, October 2011

Background of the 2011 Thailand Flood

In July 2011, Thailand faced its worst flooding in 50 years, the flood was triggered by the landfall of Tropical Storm Nock-ten, and waters soon spread through the provinces of Northern, Northeastern and Central Thailand along the Mekong and Chao Phraya river basins, swamping more than two-thirds of the country. In a matter of weeks, floodwaters reached the Chao Phraya and inundated parts of the capital city of Bangkok and flooding persisted in some areas until mid-January 2012, submerging rice fields and shutting down hundreds of factories while over 900,000 families and businesses
Flood Waters, Thailand
have been impacted and hundreds of lives have been tragically lost.. Sixty-five of Thailand's 77 provinces were declared flood disaster zones, and over 20,000 square kilometres (7,700 sq mi) of farmland was damaged.[69]The disaster has been described as "the worst flooding yet in terms of the amount of water and people affected" in Thailand.

The World Bank has estimated 1,425 billion baht (US$ 45.7 Bn) in economic damages and losses due to flooding, as of 1 December 2011.[70][71] Most of this was to the manufacturing industry, as seven major industrial estates were inundated by as much 3 meters (10 feet) during the floods.[72] Disruptions to manufacturing supply chains affected regional automobile production and caused a global shortage of hard disk drives, which is expected to last throughout 2012. The World Bank's estimate for this disaster means it ranks as the world's fourth costliest disaster as of 2011 surpassed only by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, 1995 Kobe earthquake, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.[73]

Social Media and the 2011 Thailand Flood

In addition to the many blogs, web portals and news sites covering the floods, social networks have seen a huge amount of discussion as people seek information, share news and post pictures and videos from affected areas. Moreover, post natural disasters, critical information about the situation on the ground often takes days, if not weeks to filter out of the disaster area, hampering efforts of disaster relief teams. These delays are brought on by the disruption in communication and transport infrastructures, as was the case in Thailand. During the 2011 floods in Thailand, Social Media quickly became the main channel of communication. A poll by ABAC Poll Center showed that during the floods, social media had surpassed newspapers as a source of information with usage increasing by roughly 19 percent to 25 percent.[74]

Twitter to the Rescue

Twitter was the most used platform for information regarding the floods. The service had a 20 percent increase in users from 600,000 in September 2011 to 720,000 in October 2011.[75] 15 percent higher than the average growth rate of 5 percent. As newspaper circulations were affected by the floods, Twitter was used as a means of obtaining real-time information. Also #thaiflood[76] became the most popular hashtag and น้ำท่วม (flood) received more than 348,000 mentions appearing more than half a million tweets.

It isn’t just civilian observers that are making use of social media during the disaster, Twitter is a key tool for media in the field, such as Noppatjak Attanon of The Nation Group whose tweets are read by almost 50,000 followers.

“Accurate information is very important during the crisis,” Attanon said, “and thanks to Twitter, I’m able to provide people with reliable updates about their homes and areas where they live.”

The journalist also revealed that, as well as following tip-offs and providing updates, his tweets have encouraged Twitter users to provide donations that might not have been been forthcoming otherwise. Thanks to his Twitter activity, he has helped to get 100 boats, 500 life-jackets and thousands of baht in donations.

As a testament to the effectiveness of Social Media as a communication tool, the government of Thailand had also turned to digital media for crisis communications with its official Twitter accounts @FloodThailand and an official website[77] for dissemination of updates. Though this paled in comparison to the privately created accounts

Sharing Through Facebook

The online platform was used as a means for multimedia sharing and facilitating conversations around the flooding. Communities pages[78] provided information and allowed users to share stories and pictures.

Google Response Page

Though having only been set up it’s offices in Thailand recently, a Google Crisis Response Page was set up[79], the page aggregated emergency contact information, a map and satellite imagery to show areas affected, aid locations and other features.

Besides efforts from international corporations like Google, individuals could also played contributed to the relief efforts. A google user from Thailand, Rikker Dockum, created a list of useful information for the English Speaking Population on Google Docs.
Screen Shot of Roo Su Flood Video

This google document allowed any user to edit and update with links and resources, empowering online users.[80]

Youtube - Roo Su Flood Series

Two independent filmmakers, Kriangkrai “Ping” Wachirathamporn and Tawatchai “u” Sangthammachai, created a cartoon called Roo Su Flood that helped explain the flooding situation in Thailand and how to deal with the floodwaters. The video was an instant hit, with more than 870,000 hits in under two weeks and the blue whales in the video itself had become a symbol to represent the floodwaters in Thailand. Roo Su Flood has then gone on to 10 episodes that pertain to the topic.[81]

Significance

The Internet is not yet a primary resource for many in Thailand, however its significance for news gathering around the flood is another example – like the political protests in 2010 – that is likely to accelerate the usage of the web in the country.[82]

When it comes to communication in Thailand, offline media such as TV and print has a far wider reach. This emphasis is reflected in company communication spending, Ogilvy estimates firms in Thailand allocate just 2 percent of budgets to digital media. The rate is expected to grow to 10 percent next year, but it remains that many firms see the majority of their audience outside of the Internet.

With less than 20 percent of Thailand’s 67.8 million population enjoying access to the web, mobile is the big hope.[83] Analysts expect the number of mobile Internet users in Thailand to double to 22% of mobile, overtaking national fixed-line usage, with one in four mobile users likely to use social media on their device.

For these reasons access to social media is growing and so is its usage. As Internet access continues to grow in Thailand so its population will continue to make use of its benefits for access to communication not only in times of crisis but for everyday communication too.

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