Social media has become an integral part of the lives of many Cambodians, especially the young and urban population. According to DataReportal, Cambodia was home to 10.95 million social media users in January 2023, equating to 65.0 percent of the total population (https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2023-cambodia). This number has increased by 5 percent since January 2022, when there were 10.4 million social media users (https://oosga.com/social-media/khm/). The majority of these users access social media via mobile devices, as there were 22.16 million cellular mobile connections active in Cambodia in early 2023, with this figure equivalent to 131.5 percent of the total population (https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2023-cambodia).
The demographics of social media users in Cambodia reflect the country’s young and growing population. According to NapoleonCat, people aged 25 to 34 were the largest user group in April 2023, with 5.2 million users, followed by people aged 18 to 24, with 4.1 million users (https://napoleoncat.com/stats/social-media-users-in-cambodia/2023/). The gender distribution was slightly skewed towards men, who accounted for 54.4 percent of the total social media users, while women accounted for 45.6 percent (https://napoleoncat.com/stats/social-media-users-in-cambodia/2023/).
The most popular and widely used social media platform in Cambodia is Meta (formerly known as Facebook), which has dominated the market for over a decade. With the latest data published in January 2023, we can see that there were 11.75 million Meta users in Cambodia, with a growth rate of 0.91 percent since January 2022 (https://oosga.com/social-media/khm/). Meta’s user base is slightly more male-dominated than the overall social media user base, with men accounting for 54.53 percent and women accounting for 45.47 percent (https://oosga.com/social-media/khm/).
Meta is not only a platform for social networking, but also a source of information, entertainment, and commerce for many Cambodians. Meta has partnered with Open Development Cambodia (ODC) to launch a website that aims to provide information and updates on the growth and developments in Cambodia’s digital economy (https://oosga.com/social-media/khm/). Meta also offers various features and services that cater to the needs and preferences of Cambodian users, such as Meta Pay (a mobile payment service), Meta Shops (a platform for online shopping), Meta Watch (a video streaming service), and Meta Gaming (a platform for gaming and live streaming).
Other social media platforms that have gained popularity and traction in Cambodia include Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Telegram. According to StatCounter, Twitter was the second most used social media platform in Cambodia in April 2023, with a market share of 36.89 percent, followed by Instagram with 14.56 percent, TikTok with 9.87 percent, YouTube with 7.32 percent, and Telegram with 6.21 percent (https://gs.statcounter.com/social-media-stats/all/cambodia). These platforms offer different types of content and experiences for Cambodian users, such as short videos, photos, live streams, news, entertainment, education, and communication.
The trends and patterns of social media usage in Cambodia reflect the changing social, economic, and political landscape of the country. Some of the notable trends that have emerged or continued in 2023 are:
- The rise of e-commerce and online shopping: As more Cambodians have access to the internet and mobile devices, they are increasingly using social media platforms to buy and sell goods and services online. Meta Shops is one of the leading platforms for e-commerce in Cambodia, allowing users to browse and purchase products from various categories such as fashion, beauty, electronics, home appliances, and more (https://oosga.com/social-media/khm/). Other platforms that facilitate online shopping include Instagram Shopping, TikTok Shopping, YouTube Shopping, and Telegram Shopping.
- The growth of digital entertainment and education: Social media platforms are also a source of entertainment and education for many Cambodians, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted offline activities and events. Platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, Meta Watch, and Meta Gaming offer a variety of content genres and formats that appeal to different tastes and interests of Cambodian users, such as music, comedy, dance, sports, gaming, cooking, travel, beauty, health, and more (https://oosga.com/social-media/khm/). Some of these platforms also provide opportunities for content creators and influencers to monetize their content and build their fan base.
- The influence of social media on politics and society: Social media platforms are also a medium for political and social discourse and activism in Cambodia, where traditional media outlets are often controlled or censored by the government. Social media users can express their opinions, share information, organize movements, and challenge the authorities on various issues such as human rights, democracy, corruption, land rights, environmental protection, and more (https://thediplomat.com/2023/05/do-cambodias-2023-elections-matter/). However, social media users also face risks and challenges, such as online harassment, cyberattacks, legal threats, and surveillance from the government and its supporters. The government has also been using social media to disseminate its own messaging and propaganda, as well as to monitor and regulate online activities. In 2023, Cambodia is heading toward national elections on July 23, which will be a crucial test for the country’s political future. The role of social media in these elections will be significant, as it will provide a platform for both the CPP and its critics to mobilize their supporters, communicate their agendas, and influence public opinion.
Social media usage in Cambodia in 2023 reflects the country’s dynamic and complex reality, where rapid development, digital transformation, and social change coexist with political repression, economic inequality, and cultural diversity. Social media platforms offer Cambodian users various opportunities and benefits, such as connecting with others, accessing information, engaging in commerce, enjoying entertainment, and participating in politics. However, social media platforms also pose various challenges and risks, such as exposing users to misinformation, manipulation, violence, and surveillance. As social media continues to evolve and expand in Cambodia, it will have profound impacts on the country’s society, economy, and politics.