Which Asian market has an internet penetration of 69%, one of the highest mobile phone penetration rates in the world at 184%, a smartphone penetration rate double that of the global average and a 76% reach for social networking sites? The answer: Hong Kong(1).
Hong Kong is a market deeply immersed in the online world. Whether over a home broadband service or a mobile device, Hongkongers are spending an increasing amount of time watching video, gaming, shopping and sharing online. The statistics for reach and utilization of digital tools should be enough to encourage the incorporation of digital channels into any PR campaign in Hong Kong. One of the reasons why this is still not the case is perhaps a deeper understanding of online behavior and the influence social media has on target audiences. Results of a recent Ketchum survey has helped shed further light on this.
The results showed that alongside the continuing importance of traditional media channels such as print, TV and radio, 44% of respondents thought that social media has had a positive impact on their life. On a weekly basis 77% of Hongkongers surveyed were reading blogs, 52% were writing blogs and 92% were engaged on Facebook indicating a significantly higher level of online participation than other markets surveyed around the world.
Amongst bloggers, 55% are writing personal blogs mostly to keep a personal record or diary of their lives. But other information is also being shared. Survey respondents stated that they also blog about news (35%), entertainment (34%), food and recipes (35%), travel (29%) and health and wellness (22.5%). This is similarly reflected in what people like to read about online: news tops the list (59%) followed by travel (54%), shopping (51%), health and wellness (41%) and technology and gadgets (41%).
Social networking sites are also as influential on purchasing decisions as traditional media. 50% of respondents had made a purchase based on a blog recommendation. Blogs, message boards and social networks ranked only a few percentage points behind television in the media formats influencing purchasing decisions.
Social media is playing a role in addressing challenges to worklife balance in Hong Kong – a place well known for its work hard play hard lifestyle. 68% of those surveyed spend the same or more time with friends online than they do in person. When face time is being squeezed, people switch online to share stories, gossip, tips and advice.
The digital space is often perceived as a hotbed for consumer rants and political activism largely because these are the subjects that grab the headlines in traditional media. But the reality is actually quite different as only 11% of respondents in Hong Kong blog about politics. With such a high percentage of the population actively engaged in social media, companies and brands have a huge opportunity to spark influential conversation and win vocal advocates in the online space.
The BlogHer 2011 Social Media Matters Study co-sponsored by Ketchum was fielded by BlogHer, the leading participatory news, entertainment and information network for women online, and Nielsen Company, in the US, Brazil, Germany and Hong Kong. 387 people over the age of 18 in Hong Kong were polled in an online survey in March 2011.
(1) Asia Pacific Digital Marketing Yearbook 2011. Asia Digital Marketing Association.