Using social media for startups can be an excellent way of marketing your business, highlighting your products and services, raising awareness on issues you are passionate about, and enhancing your brand identity. In Southeast Asia, the use of these online platforms is high, with Indonesia having the largest social media user base. The region also exceeds the daily user rates in other parts of Asia Pacific (APAC).

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) rapidly adopted digital solutions when the COVID-19 pandemic began. According to the World Economic Forum, digitalisation continues changing the region, with residents engaging in eCommerce and using social media to buy goods and services—known as social commerce. 


We analyse the rise of social commerce in Southeast Asia


Statista Research shows that Facebook has the largest share of social media traffic in Southeast Asia. YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest closely follow it. Thus, startup founders leverage online platforms to promote themselves and their services. 

Here are some of the social media trends that can boost your brand:

Understand the life cycles of social media platforms 

Social media platforms offer businesses different challenges to standard marketing techniques. For one, posts have a lifespan and have a limited time to capture the audience’s attention. Depending on the media sites the company uses, the target consumers’ attention may last from as little as a few seconds to a few hours, meaning it is essential to make an impact quickly.

Secondly, there is a process to follow to lead potential prospects to the final step of buying from the company. Additionally, each social site has a period of dominance, and companies must strategise accordingly to brand the startup on the ideal platform appropriately.

According to AOK Marketing, the lifecycle will involve conversing with the prospects and listening to their needs. Next, it is up to the brand to offer a solution and build trust with the potential buyer to get them to finalise the transaction. The last steps involve following up with the customer, confirming their experience with the company, and spreading the word to enhance the brand’s reputation.

Prioritise authenticity

Social networks like Instagram have users who show off a lifestyle that is mostly not based on reality. As such, many people on the internet do not trust much of what they see online. Furthermore, there are many fake news stories, people who are not genuine activists, and companies that use fraudulent techniques to sell their products. 

Authenticity can set a startup apart and help to build trust with the target audience and customers. It reinforces the brand’s credibility when they do what they said they would do. If a startup promises that the goods or services will solve a particular problem, subscribers must be able to confirm that the outcome is positive.

For example, being authentic means not working with influencers who have yet to use the products. Otherwise, they may misrepresent what the company is selling, leaving customers dissatisfied if it fails to meet their expectations.

Create edutainment content

Edutainment (educational and entertainment) content can work well on social networking websites because it is a fun way of introducing the brand and its services. Some industries use complex language or involve innovating unique products that are impossible to market regularly. 

Edutainment uses interactive content, such as videos, polls about societal concerns, or quizzes, to engage the audience and establish the brand in their minds.

Additionally, companies can encourage customers to make user-generated content (UGC). For example, common types of UGCs include images of buyers using the product, testimonials, and live streams. They may also write a blog post about the company and its offerings or post a tweet or status update on Facebook. Different groups prefer distinct social media, meaning the UGC can have a broader spread to a larger audience.

Social media for tech startups and SMEs in Southeast Asia

The smart use of social media for startups can play a pivotal role in enhancing the economic landscape in ASEAN, but there are several issues to overcome. Firstly, there are privacy and cybersecurity concerns when using these networking sites. 

Another challenge involves improving the region’s infrastructure and helping rural area residents benefit from online solutions. More people can access the social web if mobile penetration rates can be enhanced further.

The governments of the region should provide more tech educational programs to startups. They should encourage them to adopt new technologies and combine them with networking tools for branding purposes. For example, social commerce businesses can take advantage of financial technology (fintech) solutions to attract more customers.

Finally, according to the e-Conomy SEA 2022 Report by Google, Bain & Company, and Temasek, ASEAN is expected to generate 20MT of emissions by 2030. One of the more mainstream social media trends is using these platforms to raise sustainability awareness. When done correctly, startups can thrive economically and play a role in protecting the environment.