Thais really love their social networks. Thailand’s Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) reports that over 90 percent of web users in Thailand use social media. In addition, a mall in Bangkok is the number one most Instagrammed location in the world, while the city itself is known as Facebook’s capital city. The top three social media channels in Thailand as of last July were Facebook (92.2 percent), YouTube (63.7 percent), Line (61.1 percent).
Some might argue that Line is a chat app, while Facebook is a social network. But we can’t deny that chat apps are becoming more and more like social networks, considering the design and functionalities.
There’s no official information on Line’s latest local numbers yet, but we can be sure that it isn’t just waiting around to become a dominant player in Thailand.
Here are some indicators that the Japan-based chat app could be taking over Facebook in Thailand:
1. Line is devoting more resources than Facebook to growing its market share
While the closest Facebook office to Thailand is in Singapore, Line has just recently opened a new office in the heart of Bangkok on Sathorn road, making this the fourth office after Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Although Facebook can work remotely to support users in Thailand, a local presence shows the commitment Line has for the market. In addition, Line also announced that the company is looking to hire more people to support the team in Thailand.
2. Line is catching up with Facebook in its Thai user base
Line and Facebook have very close user numbers in Thailand. According to Facebook Ads, it still leads with roughly 26 million users, while Line now has 24 million users. The gap has shrunk considerably.
Line is also extremely successfull at monetizing its games platform.
3. Line knows stickers; Facebook is clueless
Admit it, Facebook is kinda late to the game with its stickers. Yes, it finally realized that emoji and stickers are one of the ways to win the hearts of Asian users. But Line has done it better and more successfully. It has already partnered with several big brands in Thailand to create special-edition stickers while Facebook is just starting to get into it. Line also knows the credit card issues that Thai people have and have begun offering alternative ways for Thai people to buy stickers.
4. People are shopping like crazy on Line
Thais don’t only rely on online marketplaces like OLX to find products, they use Facebook and Instagram to browse too. Since it’s still a grey, untaxed market, there’s no absolute value on how big it is. But it’s safe to assume that any Thai on Facebook or Instagram must have seen one or two merchants trying to sell their products on these channels.
So far, there doesn’t seem to be merchants who have conducted flash sales of this scale on Facebook.
5. Facebook is no longer cool worldwide
The Global Web Index says that Thais are moving away from Facebook and into China-made app WeChat. However, it seems like WeChat is far from being number one in Thailand, which means, with the games and stickers, Line could be the one winning Thai teenagers’ hearts.
Of course, it would be naive to say that Facebook is going away anytime soon. However, with the momentum that Line has gained in the past year, if Thailand is an important market, Mark Zuckerberg might have to re-evaluate this rival from Japan in order for it to maintain its status as the number one social media platform in the country.Editing by Terence Lee