Many people use social media purely as a communication tool for work or for connecting with friends - but not so for the Chiaranaipanich family, who embrace it as a channel for maintaining almost constant communicating among themselves.
The family members – including the two parents, both aged over 60, and four children – have been in constant touch, even though they have lived in different places for years. The parents live in Khon Kaen, the eldest brother in the Netherlands, and the remaining two brothers and one sister live and work in Bangkok.
The three who live in Bangkok are active social media users. The second-oldest brother is Oweera Chiaranaipanich (@oweera). He works as senior SME partner development specialist at Kasikornbank (KBank). The third child is Kannchaya Jiaranaipanich (@v_victory1) – the only girl in the family. She was promoted to senior customer relations service and sales strategist at KBank two years ago.
The youngest boy is Khajorn Chiaranaipanich (@khajochi). He was one of five contestants on the “Fan Pan Tae ‘Steve Jobs’ 2012” game show, eventually becoming the runner-up. He is also the founder of MacThai.com, the well-known website about Apple, and a writer at Blognone.com, a popular Thai IT blog. He also has his own blog, Khajochi.com.
This family has connected with each other in the online world for about a decade. Since all four children had to leave their hometown of Khon Kaen to study in Bangkok, they came up with a way to establish a communication channel through which the kids could get in touch with their parents back home.
Khajorn, who graduated with a degree in computer engineering from King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Lat Krabang and a master’s in business software development from Chulalongkorn University, set up the family’s own website, http://www.chiaranaipanich.com, as an online channel to keep the family updated on each other’s activities.
“Before social media, we had our own family website. In the past, this website linked all of our family’s members’ Picasa [photo-sharing] accounts. Now, it links our blogs and online channels in the one place for all of us,” Khajorn said.
He added that in the beginning, his family adopted e-mail as their common communication channel. He created family@Chiaranaipanich.com as the central mail site for all family members to communicate with each other.
Then, social media came to Thailand. The Chiaranaipanich family also adopted social media including Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, and LINE into their daily lives and adapted these as communication channels to keep in touch.
“Our parents are willing to learn to use technologies. They love to use social media to get in touch with us. We meet online everyday at any time. Even though we are living in different places, we are very close to each other. Our parents, ‘know’ and ‘see’ what we do, where we are, and what we eat every day. It is the beauty of social media that it can be used to connect family members,” Khajorn said.
The Chiaranaipanich family have adopted and adapted these powerful media channels to their work and life according to their own different styles.
Oweera said he started to use social media, firstly Twitter, for his personal needs, not for his work.
“I started to tweet three years ago. I saw social media as a trend that I desired to know about. I decided to study and try it. At first, I used it personally without having any intention of using it for work,” he said.
But social media is now embedded in his life – actually, in his work and his life. He started tweeting about his own interests, most of them concerning knowledge management and related information, and knowledge for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), which drew a lot of people to follow him on Twitter.
“Once I met and got to know more people on Twitter, I realised that social media can be applied to both work and life. I use social media to communicate business messages,” Oweera said.
Meanwhile, Kannchaya started her own life on social media via Facebook and Twitter as communication tools for her volunteer activities. She loves volunteering. She initiated and created a group activity called “Thailand to be better and be more happy” to recruit people for the “Big Cleaning Day”, a voluntary clean-up activity that was held after the political violence that struck Bangkok in 2010.
“I use social media for my beloved volunteer activities. I use Facebook as a public space to provide all information related to the activities, while I use Twitter as a communication tool to inform the public of our volunteer activities, and to ask for help, for volunteers and for donations,” she said.
Khajorn, as the “IT guy”, is the Chiaranaipanich family member who is most familiar with the latest technologies and, of course, with social media. He always provides technical advice to his brothers and sister.
The Chiaranaipanich family shows that one of the beauties of social media is its ability to keep families connected. And that nobody is too old to learn to use technologies and new media.