As I sort through numerous reports discussing SE Asia and technological communication, a few patterns begin to emerge. Going beyond the "everybody is doing it" argument, what are four additional factors which drive people to go online and start using social media? So far, I have found four different arguments which help us understand the why of digital uptake in SE Asia.
- Politics. We have numerous examples coming from the anti-US beef protests in South Korea, the recent upheavals in Thailand, and protests in Indonesia to immediately identify politics as a major driver for going online.
- Mobile. Recently Luca Penati of Ogilvy spoke at SMU and stated that "mobile is the last form of access adopted in developed markets, but is becoming the first form of access in emerging markets." Here is a simple example from the Philippines.
- Gaming. This argument, in particular, points the finger at Facebook for being a major driver for adoption of online communications. The point was discussed at length in September during the first day of the Social Media World Forum here in Singapore. People are inviting their friends to play games online, and Facebook games such as Farmville or Mafia Wars have been major contributors to this trend.
- International Business Expansion. The recent APAC Corporate Social Media Study released by Burson Marsteller argues that companies expanding internationally are far more likely to develop and sustain a social media presence than are companies not expanding. While this zeros in on business rather than broader national or regional trends, the observation strikes me as quite insightful nonetheless.
The list may grow, who knows. But based on all my research this year, I feel confident sharing this list. Not only do these four factors ring true intuitively, in all four cases we have multiple data points or case studies all pointing in the same direction.If you added anything to the list, what would your suggestion be?