How to grow your business in Hong Kong with social media

By Wander Meijer

Digital Waste, Zombie Followers and Marketing Opportunities

Social media is the modern voice of protesters and a powerful weapon in the hands of NGOs, disgruntled consumers and ... businesses – if used well. Marketing has become more accessible than ever through social media though at the same time more complicated as it is not easy to deploy Twitter, YouTube and Facebook in a way that is relevant for consumers. Social media is not for every occasion and for every company, but for most audiences social media is part of their daily working and personal lives, especially for disseminating information quickly, so it has to be part of the marketing mix.

Online sources are used along the shopping journey but vary by stages, making other media sources relevant as well. First it is used to drive awareness, then to help explore and select, to decide where to buy, to receive customer service, and to keep in touch with the brand.

Many companies have set up fan pages, but then “friending” a brand doesn’t mean that someone wants to be your brand-friend. Companies have to tread a fine line, as many consumers do not like to be contacted by them – there has to be something in it for them. TNS’ Digital Life 2011 survey shows that 42% of Hong Kong consumers do not want to be contacted by a brand on social networks – and this number is growing. Like every medium before it, brands try to invade that space anyway and social media, like every other medium before it, is already suffering from the clutter as a result. As more brands attempt to grab attention and start social media conversations with disinterested consumers, more of them will switch off.

The message has to be relevant. This sounds obvious but not so for many companies, who push their corporate message into social media, creating ‘digital waste’. Digital waste occurs when brands rush into on-line communications without thinking who they want talk to – and more importantly, why. As a result, many corporations have zombie followers: inactive consumers who once followed a corporate twitter account or signed up for a brand fan page, and now have little or no interest. And as indicated they may even now resent the intrusion.

If your business wants to use on-line media to grow, the first step is to know who uses the internet and social media and for what. And what do you need to do to make brand ambassadors out of them. Hong Kong has a population of 7,125,000 and with Christmas coming; almost all of them are consumers. What is their Digital Profile and how do you use that to your advantage?

1. Reach Digital Users: 85% of all households or 6 million Hong Kong consumers are on-line.
2. Engage Digital Consumers: 75% of this 6 million are on social networks; Facebook has 4 million Hong Kong users who engage with brands online.
3. Cultivate Digital Advocates: 47% write about brands and tell others on-line about brands – but it’s not always positive.
4. Convert the Digital Consumer: 48% of Hong Kong internet users purchased online in the past 12 months.

Digital offers great business opportunities, and while digital marketing is perhaps more complicated, it can open up many new avenues towards business growth. Social media can help businesses grow, as digital is a business enabler, not just a marketing enabler.

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