In Southeast Asia, Social WiFi’s Time Has Come


Recently, global social media agency We Are Social released their annual survey of Social, Digital and Mobile in APAC – with particularly fascinating data for those of us whose businesses are focused on Southeast Asia.

Did you know, for example, that mobile penetration in Southeast Asia is 109%? In Vietnam, it’s as high as 145% – in a country of 85 million people, that’s a lot of phones. Vietnam also boasts 20 million Facebook users, a striking figure for a country in which Facebook is semi-officially banned and access to the network can be sporadic. In Thailand, the number of Facebook users rises to 24 million – over a third of the population. Even little Cambodia boasts mobile penetration of 126% and over a million Facebook users. Southeast Asia is clearly mobile and social media crazy.

One area in which the region lags behind is 3G adoption. Vietnam boasts the highest rate of 3G penetration – 16% – while Thailand and Cambodia are lagging behind at 12% and 11% respectively. Such figures help account for the widespread availability of free WiFi in the region. Pretty much every hotel, restaurant, cafe and bar in the region offers free WiFi to its customers, and after 12 years living in the region I’m always shocked at the lack of free WiFi availability when I travel back to Europe! I’ve found free WiFi in such unlikely places as onboard a Halong Bay cruise boat and in a tiny grocery store in the wilds of Laos’ Bolaven Plateau.

Such figures make Southeast Asia the perfect territory for Social WiFi. Social WiFi – which requires visitors to an establishment to log in to the WiFi network via their Facebook or other social media credentials – allows those free WiFi providers to capture the social media details of their users, harvest Facebook likes or Twitter mentions, and generate big customer lists to boost both their social media campaigns and customer loyalty schemes.

Let’s say you’re a large hotel with several F and B outlets and conference facilities, and you offer free WiFi. Every day hundreds or even thousands of people will be signing into your WiFi, and then leaving, possibly never to return. You certainly have no idea who they are and, unless they happen to leave a business card with you, you aren’t capturing their contact details. With Social WiFi, you’ll be adding hundreds or thousands of new fans to your Facebook page every day, boosting your brand name and giving you a huge list of people to send promotions and deals to. And if you offer incentives to clients to use your Social Wifi – discounts, drink vouchers etc – even the 3G users will be tempted to sign up!

High mobile penetration, high social media usage, low 3G access – Southeast Asia offers a veritable ‘perfect storm’ of conditions for Social WiFi adoption.


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About Author

Tim is one of representasia’s co-founders and the company’s CMO. He has been in the tourism industry since 1992 and has worked in Paris, London, Saigon & Bangkok. He has a strong background in operations, technology, sales & marketing. Representasia is his second business venture, following his founding of a successful Vietnam DMC in 2009.

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