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Living the dream

Aug 25. 2015
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By Asina Pornwasin
The Nation

Former journalist and sometime marketing executive Jakrapong Kongmalai is combining his skills in creating content for Thai web portal
One of the favourite online destinations of Thai cybernauts for the past 17 years, has expanded from its origins as a web portal to become one of the leaders in Thai-language content. 
Born in 1998, making it a veteran in the field, Sanook is just one of the three main business of Sanook Online, the other two business units being the digital agency, Top Space, and applications like WeChat.
One of the key players in maki ng Sanook a world- class platform that not only informs and entertains its followers but also connects them is Jakrapong Kongmalai, head of Content Business for Sanook Online.
A talented scribe, Jakrapong started his career as a journalist with Manager Group.
“I believe that good writing has a positive impact on society,” he says.
His first experience with creating content for the online community came when he accepted the job of Community Manager with Yahoo Singapore. There, his duties included overseeing content creation for online communities in almost all of Southeast Asia though ironically not his fellow Thais. 
“I really wanted to develop content for Thai netizens too but the online community in Thailand was simply too small for Yahoo,” he explains.
His next career move took him to Thai Samsung Electronics and a marketing job where, as Social Media Manager, he combined his writing skills and sales savvy to drive social media and content marketing for Samsung Mobile.
“It might have been a marketing job but most of my work was related to content,” he says.
In 2014, Jakrapong moved once again, this time to Sanook Online as head of Content Business, and was at last able to realise his dream.
“I was delighted to be offered the job,” he says, “especially as Sanook and I have the same aim – to become the champions in terms of content.”
At Sanook Online, he oversees the Content and Business Development unit and manages a team of some 50 millennials. The youngsters are divided into four groups, covering respectively content creation, marketing and business development, multimedia, and products such as Sanook Men, Sanook Women, Sanook News, and Sanook Travel.
“I spent my first 100 days at Sanook making myself known to every member of the team,” he grins, adding that managing such a large group was the biggest challenge he faced when he took on the job.
Now, with a workplan that combines the company’s vision with his personal passion, Jakrapong says his mission is to build Sanook into the preferred online destination for Thais in an Internet era dominated by social media.
“For me, Sanook is not just a website. Sanook is the content generator in the social media era. Sanook will become the online destination of Thai people and they will love it. Sanook is all about enjoyment,” he says.
Currently more than 35 million cybernauts visit the Sanook website each month. About 10 million Sanook followers make use of the social media platform, and 25 per cent of the viewers are Sanook fans who routinely visit the site everyday.
“Content creation in this social media era is very challenging. Today everything, including the news, is consumed via smartphone and because users demand concise and speedy content, often that content is a mix of truth and opinion, which can be harmful to those lacking in media literary.
“I think of content like water. Just as the liquid can be poured into different types of containers, content and the content format need to support multiple screens,” he says.
Jakrapong draws on his experience as a journalist in managing his team, holding regular weekly meetings and dishing out tasks, though he is quick to add that his editorial team is speedy and can work largely unsupervised when it comes to the social media. “Much of their content is social news and is designed to attract audiences to like and to share it.
“We apply the news assignment concept to determining the themes of the content. We need to consider the topics people want to know about as well as those we want them to know. We also apply social media and data journalism to our content creation,” said Jakrapong.
Sanook fans can expect the website’s content to become broader and more varied under Jakrapong’s supervision. Right now, 60 per cent of the content is developed by his team and associates such as bloggers and provincial reporters, while the remaining 40 per cent is supplied by content partners.
Content created by 50 bloggers and 110 provincial reporters is the latest addition to the website and Jakrapong says the number of bloggers should double by the end of the year.
“We want Sanook to be the main platform for Thais to consume and contribute content. We have issued an invitation to our fans to come up with user-generated content. We would like Sanook to become more of a social  [platform] and connect with more people. Soon, we will have new content that Thais will love and that will make them stay with Sanook,” he concludes.

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