There are now more than 200m active social media users in South-East Asia, this is equivalent to one in three people using social to various extents. 

The market is ripe with opportunities, offering organisations tremendous potential to deepen relationships with consumers and create positive conversations.

In many cases, investment in social media is being shifted away from other marketing budgets. With around half of marketers in Indonesia (50%) and Singapore (44%) saying this is the case.

This is according to our new report, The State of Social Media in South-East Asia, published in partnership with ClickAcademy Asia, the Digital Commerce Association of the Philippines (DCOM) and the Indonesian Digital Association (IDA).

The research, based on a survey of nearly 550 marketing, digital and ecommerce professionals based in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, looks at the extent to which companies are committed to social media, the platforms and technologies they are using, and the challenges they face in improving their capabilities in this area.

Here are a few of the key takeaways featured in the report.

More than two-thirds of marketers plan to increase their social media budgets

This research paints a positive picture for social media investment, with over two-thirds of marketers surveyed indicating they plan to increase their budgets over the next 12 months. 

Among the four countries surveyed, Indonesia will witness the highest average increase (27%), with organisations based in the other countries increasing their investment by less than a quarter on average.

Measuring ROI is a major stumbling block

The ability to measure return on investment from social media marketing is a cause for concern for marketers in Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, as they’re significantly more likely to describe their ROI measurement abilities as ‘poor’ than ‘good’.

More than half (54%) of company respondents in Singapore rate their ability to measure social ROI as ‘poor’, whereas only 11% claim their organisations are ‘good’ at this.

Q: How would you describe your ability to measure return on investment from social media marketing?

Branding objectives are a key focus, to the detriment of customer-centric activities

Social media in South-East Asia is primarily used to increase brand awareness, over more customer-centric reasons such as customer service and engagement. In Malaysia and Singapore, only 13% and 14% of marketers respectively say their organisations are using social media marketing to improve customer service or increase customer satisfaction.

Responding organisations are around three times more likely to use social media to engage with or retain customers (48% in Malaysia and 50% in Singapore), but this is still quite a low figure compared to the proportion of those citing branding objectives.

For a more in-depth view, download our full 65 page report The State of Social Media in South-East Asia.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 16 September, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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