As the end of 2012 draws near, I look back 10 months ago when I first started my online business in Bangkok. I started small, as a one-man business and yes, I am still a solo entrepreneur today. I am not expecting any business breakthroughs or miracles just yet, but the best part is, the business is still here and growing.
While I have seen friends who have also opened similar online businesses early this year, I have also witnessed which businesses failed, which ones have been abandoned and which ones persisted.
If there is one measurable success in my online business, I’m fairly certain it is in social media. To date, social media has been the single biggest source of my customers and prospects. Not only does it effectively promote my products but it also contributes the most visitor referrals to this blog.
But it hasn’t been easy. There is no magic formula that works with all kinds of businesses. It has been an uphill climb and it required a huge amount of time, testing and tweaking. But once you’ve found your “magic touch”, repetition is essential. Sometimes, it’s the most boring of tasks where you build success.
If you are having second thoughts about using social media to promote your Bangkok-based business, have a look at the slides below to help you understand the status of social media in Thailand. This may also help you decide which social media channel will have the biggest impact for your target customers and your business.
Find out where your customers are online
In my earlier blog post, I have described how learning the tools to set up an online business has been an uphill battle in my first few months. I know I needed to start making sales so I focused my time and efforts on social media.
At the beginning, I had to make decision and ask myself: Which social media channel will my prospective customers most likely hang out? Are they most likely to be on Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn?
Understanding the nature of your business and thinking like your customer will definitely help you develop a customer state of mind. If your nature of business is B2C (Business to Customer), most likely your target audience hangs out on Facebook and to a lesser extent, on Twitter.
If your business caters to other business, (B2B or Business to Business) you might find that LinkedIn is a more appealing social network to your target business audience, followed by Twitter.
There are other factors to consider such as type of industry, cultural peculiarities and so forth. In Thailand, for example, Facebook tends to be a leading social networking site for B2C and B2B compared to LinkedIn which is still not very popular in Thailand as a social business networking site.
LinkedIn for example, has only about 300,000+ users in Thailand and a mere 1.48% penetration of online population in Thailand. Where as Facebook, which has 13.7+ Million users in Thailand and 122.21% penetration of online population in Thailand (2012).
Know your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
My business is in online retail (clothing, shoes and accessories). Yes, it is already a crowded niche so I have to find what makes my business unique. There are a literally thousands, if not millions of online stores, so I have to identify what sets me apart. Below is what I consider to be my unique selling point.
Bangkok is a popular shopping city in Asia and living in Bangkok gives me this advantage. Small businesses and visitors to Thailand love shopping for clothing, shoes and accessories in Bangkok, so it is my aim to bring that Bangkok flair and variety to people everywhere. In addition to that, I blog about topics on Thailand Culture, Travel and Shopping. And most importantly, topics on Entrepreneurship, about setting up an online clothing business and other peculiarities of doing business in Thailand.
Social media and technology is increasingly available anywhere in Thailand.
How about you? What is your unique selling proposition? What social media methods have you used to promote your business? Please share with us your thoughts or experiences by leaving a comment below.
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OJ is a Bangkok-based online Entrepreneur who loves the interplay between Social Media, Online Marketing and Business Outcomes. When not writing for Retail Plus, he is Director of Social Media at BAM Social Media Services in this vibrant Thai city he now calls home.