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Social media approach for regional firms in Southeast Asia?

Southeast Asia is a young, dynamic area and its number of Internet users, online buyers is rapidly growing. This region already proved its strong force in the world’s social media map with some acchievements: Bangkok is the world biggest Facebook cities (followed by Jakarta),  Jakarta positions as The World’s Most Active Twitter City, Bangkok is also the second biggest Line country after Japan, the Philippines is also in the world top 10 Twitter countries in terms of accounts… 

But the attraction of the 600+ million people market with high engagement net citizens can’t possibly make us ignore all the difficulties of a big but scattered market with different countries, with different languages and cultures in which developing a social media strategy is clearly not easy.

Social Network users across Asia
Social Network users across Asia – Southeast Asia plays an active role

Let’s discuss how to find some approaches for this area with the two guys specializing in Southeast Asia social media: Abang Edwin SA, the ex Community Manager of Yahoo SEA, and Achmad Alkatiri Senior Community Strategist at, a travel meta search engine.

Abang Edwin
Abang Edwin


Achmad Alkatiri
Achmad Alkatiri








Can you say one sentence about Social Media in Southeast Asia?

 Abang: Social media has become a serious backbone of communication in Southeast Asia, together with mobile.

 Achmad: Social Media is absorbed in great numbers in SEA and used daily as a regular tool which reflects the old tradition of community ties within the region.[quote]Social Media is absorbed in great numbers in SEA and used daily as a regular tool which reflects the old tradition of community ties within the region.[/quote]

time spent online in sea
Click image to see more statistics about Southeast Asia Social Media from

Do we need to focus on social media in Travel & eCommerce and what is the role of social media in this field?

Abang: Well, people are using social media to communicate with each other so it’s better for Travel eCommerce to use the same tools (social media) to reach them. [quote]Besides that, the important role of social media is for creating brand awareness.[/quote]

 Achmad: Yes absolutely! Southeast Asians are very keen to leveraging e-commerce activity. The ease at which people can now reach out to their friends or family on Facebook or Twitter for advice, tips, and make comparisons before making any buying decision has a huge impact on e-commerce platforms, especially travel. With social media, travel brands can connect, engage and build stronger relationships than ever before.

 What are the similarities and differences in Southeast Asian users’ behaviors and insights?

Abang: [quote]Based on my personal observation, there are two kinds of users in Southeast Asia. [/quote]The first one is users that are heavily using social media as a communication tool to reach their friends. They form an online community among themselves. The second one is users that are using social media for business, usually for commerce. Lots of them already have their own offline business and want it to have an online channel through social media.

 Achmad: I believe each country is unique to it’s own user behaviour, but in general Southeast Asians have one thing in common: they are very social, as mentioned previously, which is reflective of traditional community ties.

Which is the best way to create a strong Facebook page here, build one page for the whole region or one page for one country/language and why?

Abang: [quote]I always have a strong belief in a local approach to enter the market, so if I have to choose then I will build one page for each country. [/quote]The reason for that is simply because we have to reduce the gap between company/brand to make them closer to us.

Achmad: One page for one country. Wego has a firm belief and has had great success with our localisation strategy with 52 country sites in more than 30 local languages. Going local helps to engage an audience. But Facebook recently launched Global Page model that allows brands to create individual localized versions of their Page while maintaining the same Page name and global metrics such as Likes and PTAT across all Pages. It’s an option that we’re considering.

And what are the keys to have a high engagement large community?

Abang: The key to have a high level of engagement is providing conversation with quality and relevant content to the community.

Achmad:  [quote]Most importantly I remember that I’m creating a community, not an audience. There are big differences. If you have a community, there is always two-way communication. [/quote]Post content that you think is relevant & helpful for your local market based on local trends or local interest.

Usually the sales conversion rates from social media channels are quite low, even less than 1%, how to improve this factor?

Abang: If we do sales in social media then we need to use a sales strategy combined with conversation. Using social media as a pure sales channel (and doing a hard sell through it) won’t make it better, and I have seen it even make it worse.

Achmad: [quote]As I mentioned earlier, brands should use social media to connect, engage, and build relationships with their potential customers, you should never take a hard sales approach. [/quote]Social media should be used as a tool to improve existing channels and increase direct visits, improve CTRs on SEM, advertising, increased SEO visits. Measuring sales through social media in isolation really undervalues the social channel.

Any big change next 05 years?

Who will defeat Facebook?
Who will defeat Facebook?

Abang: Facebook will get a strong contender….Google Plus. I know it’s not even popular yet, but knowing Facebook will start monetizing their platform deeper and deeper, users will start looking for a cleaner platform. [quote]Pinterest will be loved by more users as a showcase to sell stuff (pseudo-ecommerce).[/quote]

Achmad: Changes to the service has pushed Google+ into the limelight, and Southeast Asians will spend much more time here. Mobile video platforms, like Vine and Instagram, will become more popular and of course, the war of cross-platform mobile messenger apps (Whatsapp, LINE, KakaoTalk, WeChat) will become more intense.

Thank you.

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