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The digital age is now, according to social media researcher Steve Noble, and businesses can no longer ignore the benefits.


Take a quick glance around any coffee shop in Phnom Penh. You will discover two undeniable truths: the average Cambodian is young, and the average young Cambodian is probably not engaged in conversation, but staring at a smartphone, tablet or laptop.

In the recent report, “Digital, Social and Mobile in APAC 2015”, social media agency We Are Social concluded that Cambodia had the biggest increase of active Internet users among countries in Asia-Pacific. Measured at a 414% increase since January 2014, Cambodia now has about 3.8 million active Internet users – about a quarter of the population. The report also highlights that, as of March 2015, there are 2.4 million active social media users in Cambodia – a 100% rise in just over a year.

The statistics shouldn’t be surprising.

Sok Puthyvuth, the president of ICT Federation Cambodia, told The Phnom Penh Post recently that the decreasing cost of Internet access and improved range of service providers should see this rise continue. He estimated that 80% of the traffic was driven by Facebook and YouTube.

Unsurprisingly, 47% of Internet traffic in the Kingdom came via mobile phones, with laptops and computers at 45%. If smartphone prices continue to fall and 3G and 4G network access remains affordable, the next few years will only see the prevalence of Internet use continue to rise – a trend too obvious to ignore.

What does that mean for you and your business in the Kingdom?
Firstly, you must be online! With many local businesses yet to invest in corporate websites and many others having adopted less than professional home pages, social media offers a cheap and effective alternative to provide your business with an online presence. Social media is most often the gateway to the Internet for many Cambodian users – whether they be watching YouTube videos, chatting on Facebook or tweeting via Twitter – so why not meet your potential clients at the places they visit most?

From family restaurants to coffee shop chains to large corporate enterprises, local firms are embracing social media platforms such as Facebook, using it as the digital face of their business to promote events and offer deals in a bid to build a loyal base of customers. Successful social networking websites encourage active participation, engaging potential clients and creating growth in fans and customers. Savvy social media owners and businesses can promote their brands through competitions and offers of rewards and discounts to their social media subscribers. Businesses that do this successfully then have the customers doing their marketing for them, with “likes” and “shares” taking the brand to a wider audience.

Catch up!
The last few years have seen the emergence of local firms that specialise in social media marketing, such as Dynamo Innovative Digital Advertising and Branderz. These services help businesses reach their target audience through content creation, increasing “likes,” analytics analysis and management of everything else related to a company’s social media identity.

If your business is low on financial resources, agencies such as USAID Development Innovations offer workshops and free online tools to help you create and manage content through social media platforms. There really is no excuse not to join the rush. Canva.com is another helpful resource, where you can customise images to suit the various social media platforms.

LinkedIn and Twitter are two platforms seeing increased usage in Cambodia and can be used for business networking, corporate promotion and maintaining contact with customers. If used properly, both of these also offer a window to the ASEAN region and beyond.

Although managing your social media presence is often at the bottom of the list of priorities due to its relatively recent emergence, the statistics show that dedicating time and creativity to creating an online identity is key to maximising your business potential. It is an undeniable truth that a large percentage of the population is young, and that their habits are to “like” and “share.”

With the rising market for e-commerce confirming the arrival of the digital age in Cambodia, competition among businesses that have long enjoyed monopolies is set to change. And with the impending e-commerce law set to regulate electronic trade in Cambodia, companies can now confidently create online business entities and execute legitimate contracts online.

Although investing resources in social media remains a difficult sell to some managers, who are forever seeking tangible financial returns, those who decline to embrace the digital age and the world of potential customers that come with it do so at their own risk.


Text by Steve Noble | Pixabay