BANGKOK: Thai consumers are embracing social media despite the nation's lack of 3G services, a local agency chief has said.

Speaking to the Bangkok Post, Lowe Thailand's incoming ceo Jeremy Hine suggested that marketers would benefit from improvements to network infrastructure.

Hine also predicted that Lowe would grow its business by up to 8% this year.

Social media is becoming increasingly popular in Thailand, which is the world's 19th largest "Facebook nation" at 9.4m users, according to data from socialbakers.

Thailand's web penetration as a whole stands at just 33%, suggesting that around half of the nation's web users have a Facebook account.

The web penetration rate is forecast to rise to 52% by 2015 as new fixed line infrastructure is built and the mobile web expands.

"I'm very surprised to see Thai consumers are actively uploading information on social media despite the absence of 3G," Hine said.

"When mobile 3G finally arrives, we will see a lot of positive changes and developments for both business and consumers."

The rapid take-up of social media among Thais also has implications for brands.

"Brands ... need to engage in a two-way communication and take consumer responses seriously," Hine added.

According to latest forecasts from ZenithOptimedia, Thai adspend will grow 8.9% in 2011, following last year's 10.2% increase.

This will be boosted by an 11.7% rise in internet adspend and a 13.5% increase for TV.

IMF forecasts suggest the Thai economy as a whole will grow by 4% this year, slightly below the Asian average of 6.7%.

Data sourced from Bangkok Post/socialbakers/ZenithOptimedia; additional content by Warc staff