Thailand still has a largely rural population (66%) so internet penetration remains quite low at 26%.

However mobile penetration stands at an improbably high 125% as the number of mobile subscribers is higher than the country’s population.

With half of mobile owners using social media apps, this offers an important level of visibility and access that surpasses many of the barriers that underdevelopment can pose.

Econsultancy’s new State of Social Media in Thailand Report, published in partnership with Thumbsup, sets out to explore the evolving social media landscape and the opportunities that this market offers.

The report is based on an online survey of more than 200 marketers, carried out between September and November 2014.

Here’s a summary of four key findings…

A positive outlook for social media investment

Social media investment looks set to rise this year, with more than three-quarters (77%) of marketers surveyed indicating that they plan to increase their social media budgets in 2015.

Interestingly, a quarter of respondents (25%) have newly allocated budgets specifically for social media. 

Where is the budget coming from for your social media marketing?

There’s also evidence that in many cases investment in social media is being shifted away from other marketing budgets generally, with three in five (59%) marketers saying that’s the case.

The increase itself is expected to be quite substantial, as almost half of respondents (49%) plan to increase their budgets by more than 50%.

Social ROI is still hard to measure

The research shows that Thai marketers are struggling to measure ROI from social media.

A large majority of survey respondents stated that measuring the impact of social media is very important (88%), yet only a fifth (21%) describe themselves as ‘good’ when it comes to measuring the ROI from social media marketing.

In comparison, 26% described their ability to measure social ROI as ‘poor’.

This is quite surprising considering that investment is set to increase this year.

Brand objectives are a key focus

Social media in Thailand is primarily used to increase brand awareness (84%), over more customer-centric reasons such as customer service (36%) and engagement (23%).

Interestingly, just over a third (36%) of respondents consider improved brand sentiment as a key performance indicator, along with frequency of social media brand mentions (30%). 

What are the top three objectives that your company is trying to achieve with social media marketing?

However, only 41% use a free or paid-for sentiment analysis tool, with the other 60% of sentiment analysis being done manually. 

Considering the vast number of tools available to do this, it is surprising that so many Thai companies do not use anything at all.

Facebook is the most popular marketing platform

Nearly all respondents use Facebook for marketing (98%), making it far and away the most popular social platform.

YouTube came in distant second (59%), followed by Instagram (46%) and Twitter (34%).

For more insights download the full report here: State of Social Media in Thailand