Digital Media in Hong Kong
Today, Hong Kong is well known as the financial hub of the east as well as a gateway for foreigners to enter the Chinese market. Many companies from the mainland aim to get listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE).
- 1 Digital Literacy
- 2 Digital Media Platforms
- 3 Traditional Media Platforms
- 4 Impacts of Digital Media
- 5 Controversies
- 6 Recommendations
- 7 Hear from the Experts
- 8 Case Studies
- 9 References
Population, Usage & Language Statistics
The total population of Hong Kong stands at 7 103.7 million people at end 2011  In June 2011, the online population is 4,879,000, which represents an Internet penetration of 68.5% for the Hong Kong population . Among the Internet users age between age 18 and 64 years old, 52.1% are females and 47.9% are males (see infographic on Internet Penetration below). In December 2010, the average time spent online at work or home locations for Internet users was 25.9 hours (see infographic on Time Spent Online below).
Total broadband subscriptions, which includes businesses and other subscriptions for services with download speed of 1Mbps or more using cable modem, xDSL, asynchonrous transfer mode or other services, reached 2,126,962 subscriptions in 2010 (see infographic on Broadband Subscriptions below).
Language: 57% of Hong Kong citizens are unable to speak English, 40% use it as a second-language and only the remaining 3% use it as their language of choice. This latter group is composed primarily of expatriates working in the many multinationals located in Hong Kong. Amongst the local Chinese, Cantonese is the most popular dialect, while immigrants from mainland China prefer Mandarin.
Source: The Global Media Intelligence Report Asia Pacific; July 2011
There is an 8% difference in internet penetration rate between the genders; a decrease from 2005 to 2007. This demonstrates an average growth rate in female users of 6.9% in recent years, which is slightly higher than that of male users (6.6%). The penetration rate between age groups also demonstrates a saturation point for youths but rapid growth for both the middle-aged and the old. There was also an especially rapid increase in the penetration rate for the retired and unemployed in 2008. (See the graphs below for details on penetration rates)
Technology penetration in Hong Kong has been increasing in terms of mobile phone penetration as well as Internet/broadband penetration. In 2010, 48% of mobile phone users who accessed the Internet via web browsers are female and 51.7% are male (see infographic on Mobile Internet User below).
Source: The Global Media Intelligence Report Asia Pacific; July 2011
Digital Media Platforms
Web 2.0 Overview
While economic freedom, coupled with high technological penetration, suggests that Hong Kong would be a place favourable for adoption and monetization of Web 2.0, the reality has been somewhat underwhelming. Local blogger Angus Lau, a keen observer of Web 2.0 trends in the country, stated that Hong Kong, along with much of Asia (with the exception of China), is still playing catch-up with Web 2.0 in 2007. Pushkar Sane, chief digital officer for North & South Asia and global head of social marketing practice for Starcom MediaVest Group supports this view. He stated that Hong Kong marketers are slow to embrace digital media compared to other markets and relatively slow to embrace even social media.
However, over the years, statistics have shown that social media is fast gaining popularity among Hong Kong netizens. As seen, Facebook enjoyed a market share of 8.43% in July 2011, having the highest market share of visits among Internet users in Hong Kong (see inforgraphic on Top 10 Websites below). However, as of December 2011, Facebook experienced a slight decline in its market share, 8.27%. The second most popular social networking site is Yahoo! Hong Kong, in which it was ranked second, at a market share of 5.54%. Similarly, it has shown a drop in the market share in December 2011, standing at a market share of 4.74% in Hong Kong. This shows that Yahoo! Hong Kong search engines surpass that of Google engines.
According to Synovate, from 2009 to 2010, there has been a 42% increase in the rate that Hong Kong Internet users from the 'Silver Hair' generation (those aged between 50 and 64) contributed to blogs and forums.
There are 49.8% of male and 50.2% female bloggers in Hong Kong, most coming from the age group of university students (see table on Hong Kong Social Media Profiles above). 63.4% of bloggers are employed full-time.
Bloggers in Hong Kong focus on maintaining relationships and expressing themselves through their blogs, which is evident from the infographic on What Motivates Bloggers in Hong Kong below. The top motivations for blogging appear to be staying in touch with friends (16.1%) and keeping them up to date (15.6%). Moderate percentages fall under self-expression (9.8%) with 8.8% of bloggers motivated to share their opinion and 9.8% to share content. Blogs also seem to serve as entertainment (6.8%) or to fill up spare time (6.3%).
The following are two Blog sites of popular in Hong Kong.
Xanga also offers two levels of premium subscriptions: Premium; and Premium Plus. Members who subscribe to either service receive additional features, including additional photo storage and monthly uploads.
Xanga is largely supported by advertising, in the form of banner ads that appear on the top of most pages on Xanga. Sam Garland does most of the advertising for Xanga. Xanga ads first appeared on the site on May 30, 2001. On September 21, 2005, the ads were changed to a larger leaderboard format.
Yahoo! HK blogs are another very popular social networking and personal communication portal operated by Yahoo! in Hong Kong. It enables users to create personal blogs, share photos, and do other activities. The site is in Chinese and features many celebrity blogs.
Twitter has struggled in Hong Kong largely due to a fragmented social-media audience, which often gets divided up between popular U.S. platforms, such as Twitter, and various mainland-based replicas, including Sina Weibo (China's answer to Twitter) and Jiepang, which appeal to locals.
“We are of two languages,” said Jay Oatway of StoryStraight Journalism & Consulting, a social-media consultancy. “Hong Kong is struggling with this fragmentation.” Mr. Oatway has more than 106,000 followers and is one of the most-followed personalities in Hong Kong, according to Twitalyzer, which analyzes Twitter use.
Sina Weibo is one of the biggest players in the social-media scene of Hong Kong. According to comScore, it has about 600,000 registered users in the city as of December 2010. To entice users, Sina Weibo invited local celebrities to join the platform. These high-profile users have helped to generate buzz and attract additional users since the microblogging platform’s inception in 2009  . "The stars are not compensated" said Meg Lee, general manager of Sina Hong Kong.
Social Networking Sites
The most influential social networking site in Hong Kong is none other than Facebook. There were 2.6 million Social Network Users in Hong Kong as of June 2011 .
Online penetration of social networks at home and work locations increased from 68% in Dec 2009 to 76% in Dec 2010 for people age 15 and above .
Much like trends in the blogosphere, most social networkers in Hong Kong use the sites to stay in touch with friends (51.2%) or to keep them up to date with their lives (12.4%) as reflected in the infographic on Motivations for Using a Social Network below. A moderate number of people rely on their networks for entertainment (7.2%), to fill up spare time (4.8%) or to share content (4.5%).
Motivations for joining a network are similar with the largest percentage of new users at 28.2% citing staying in touch with friends as their reason for taking part (see infographic on Why Hong Kongers Take Part (Join) in Social Network Groups below). Interestingly when we compare the data between the charts below that show the reasons that people join and use social networks, the second largest percentage of 12.1% state that they join social networks to share their opinion, yet only a sharply contrasting 2.9% of consistent users cite this as the reason for their actual use of networks. This discrepancy may highlight a significant change in initial impression among social networks users after some actual experience and extended usage (as compared to prior to and shortly after joining a network).
Source: HK Digital Behavior Insights Report; Nov 2011
Source: The Global Media Intelligence Report Asia Pacific; July 2011
Hong Kong Golden Forum is a popular Internet forum for topics related to computer hardware and software. It has also become an Internet community that caters to other more general needs. It is part of HKGolden.com, a computer information portal named after the Golden Computer Centre – a shopping centre dedicated to computer products in Sham Shui Po, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Discuss Forum is a major local Internet forum. As of 2010, it is the 5th most frequently visited website in Hong Kong, and the 8th most visited website in neighbouring Macau.
Instant Messaging is one of the most popular online activities.
Hong Kong Internet Users Spend Twice as Much Time on Instant Messengers than counterparts in the Asia-Pacific Region.
Time spent on Instant Messenger accounts for nearly 16% of total time online.
Will Hodgman, comScore executive vice president for the Asia-Pacific region stated that “an average Hong Kong Internet user spends more than 25 hours online per month, making it one of the most engaged Internet markets globally. Although Hong Kong is a smaller Internet market in Asia, its highly engaged and affluent audience makes it especially valuable to advertisers and publishers.”
According to Victor Cheng, comScore director for Hong Kong, “online video viewing has become nearly synonymous with Internet usage in Hong Kong. Of the six Asia-Pacific markets where comScore currently measures online video, Hong Kong posted the highest penetration of viewing, demonstrating the importance of this platform as a vehicle to reach and engage consumers in this highly advanced digital media market."
Online video viewers in Hong Kong use Google Sites most frequently with 2,403,000 unique viewers, twice that of second place Facebook.com with 1,278,000 unique viewers. Google sites have a whopping 97.5 videos per viewer, with Facebook.com netting only 9.6 videos per viewer. No other site even comes close to Google's videos per viewer stat with second in line, Tudou Sites only netting 27.2 videos per viewer. Online video viewing in Hong Kong thus seems to happen most on Google Sites such as Youtube or less frequently (but with notable significance) via Facebook.
The most popular search engine in Hong Kong and the number one Digital Media Channel (survey Oct 2010 by Marketing Magazine).
Traditional Media Platforms
Between 2006 to 2010, time-spent per day on watching TV decreased by 6% as shown below. This coincided with an increase by 24% in time spent online in the same period which suggests that people are switching to the Internet as an alternative media to TV.
Newspapers & Magazines
The following is a listing of the common newspapers available in Hong Kong and the top 10 magazines.
Impacts of Digital Media
According to Won-Joon Lee, Managing Partner APAC Products-ASEAN/AIIT/BPO, Accenture, "businesses are taking a more sophisticated view of how to use social media channels to market".This trend sees social media transform from a business-to-consumer marketing channel to a new way for businesses to communicate both with customers and internally within their organizations. Won-Joon Lee commented that "businesses are also using different social media for different purposes. For instance, a travel business might target Flickr for photos, Yahoo! Travel for planning and Tripadvisor for reviews and Facebook for discounts" .
On a different note, Nielsen's research revealed that Hong Kong consumers are most likely to shop online for holidays, books and clothing . Hong Kong consumers are more likely to purchase air tickets, make tour and hotel reservations and buy clothing, accessories, and shoes online. Word-of-mouth from friends and family is key to consumers' shopping decisions.
The survey conducted by Nielsen polled over 27,000 Internet users in 55 markets globally to look at how consumers shop online, the impact of social media, and other factors that affect how these users decide to spend their money.It was concluded that Hong Kong consumers place vacations on high priority for planned online purchases.
According to Comscore, the number of Hong Kong internet users who use online banking services grew 18% from January 2010 to reach 1.5 million visitors in January 2011, representing 35.5% of the total online population. Hong Kong now ranks first as the most highly penetrated online banking market in the Asia Pacific region. The top online banking sites amongst are HSBC, Bank of China (Hong Kong) and Standard Chartered.
Recent years have seen people in Hong Kong begin to embrace social media. There is marked evidence for its popularity in the region, based on data from Hitwise. Statistics show that not only are social networking sites getting close to as many clicks as search engines, many of them are also ranked in the top 20 visited sites in Hong Kong to date.
However despite internet penetration of 69% in Hong Kong and the rising popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, YouTube and discussion forums like UWants, the people of Hong Kong have yet to evolve their use of social media channels beyond using them to keep in touch with friends.
A recent poll (shown on the right) by the Hong Kong Association of Interactive Marketing indicated the following results with regards to Hong Kongers' reasons for using social media channels.
Evidently, Hong Kongers remain comfortable with using social media as a way to maintain relationships as opposed to creating them. Although they participate very actively on discussion forums, they can be classified more as passive social media participants rather than content creators.
They are still largely resistant to using social media to network and form new ties, or as part of their business' marketing mix. This could be due to the highly collective culture of the city's inhabitants, coupled with extremely contextual communication practices which online interaction is unable to foster.
The existence of dedicated social media links by government officials is evidence of the government's use of social media in attempts to reach out to the Hong Kong public. Contained in this link are social media avenues such as the blogs and Facebook pages of well known officials such as Chief Executive Mr. Donald Tsang.
The Hong Kong government has also reached out to young people through social media by commissioning Unisys to redesign its Youth Portal .
The Youth Portal, which is targeted at young people aged 15-24 years old, is a platform that capitalizes on social networks and new mobile computing capabilities to allow people to showcase their art, photos and other creations. The aim of this effort is to create two-way communication between the government and youths as well as to enable co-creation.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in Hong Kong recently launched their anti-corruption campaign using social media to engage teenagers. The campaign boasted the use of interactive location based games using Google Map to solve simulations of major corruption cases that ICAC had worked on before. Read more in the following link.
Where elections are concern, the rules set by the Registration and Electoral Board makes it complicated for politicians to use social media for their campaigns . A democratic party candidate in the upcoming District Council elections on 6 November 2011 stated that he had to "report all posts and updates that appear on Facebook pages related to election campaigns". It is evident that the regulations set for elections pose a significant challenge to candidates who wish to ride on the power of social media to promote their cause.
Online advertising : a growing sector
Spending on online advertising in Hong Kong remained strong at HK$234M for the first quarter of 2010; a significant increase of 36 percent from the first quarter of 2009. The Finance sector continues to lead the online advertising market with a total ad spend of HK$48M from the first quarter, according to the latest AdRelvance report from Nielsen Online, Hong Kong. The online market continues to be an effective marketing platform for marketers. According to the Nielsen Online quarterly AdRelevance report, over 1,200 advertisers in Hong Kong promoted their brand online in the first three months in 2010, an increase of 16 percent from the same period in 2009. The number of advertising campaigns reached over 4,300 in the first quarter, a significant increase of 31 percent from the previous year.
“All major indicators from the first quarter of 2010 suggest that advertisers are more confident in turning to online advertising as our economy remains buoyant, as witnessed by a strong spending in online platforms,“ said Mr. Joseph Kam, Commercial Director, Nielsen Online, Hong Kong & Taiwan.
At brand level, Citicorp remains the largest online advertiser in terms of ad impression during the first quarter of 2010, as well as the top spender in the Finance category - with 354 million ad impressions reached across the span of its campaign. The Hong Kong Government was the second largest online advertiser during the first quarter, with 246 ad impressions, followed by American Express with 222 million ad impressions.
|The top 3 advertisers|
| Citigroup Citigroup Inc. (branded Citi) is a major American financial services company based in New York City. Citigroup was formed from one of the world's largest mergers in history by combining the banking giant Citicorp and financial conglomerate Travelers Group on April 7, 1998.
Citigroup Inc. has the world's largest financial services network, spanning 140 countries with approximately 16,000 offices worldwide. The company employs approximately 260,000 staff around the world, and holds over 200 million customer accounts in more than 140 countries. It is a primary dealer in US Treasury securities.
|GovHK is the one-stop portal of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, making information and services of the public sector easier to find and use. GovHK features links to information and services and organises them by user groups of "Residents", "Business & Trade", "Non-Residents" and "Youth". Under each user group, information and online services are categorised by subjects such as "Immigration Services", "Taxes & Duties" and "Employment", rather than government bodies.|
|American Express Company is a diversified global financial services company headquartered in New York City. Founded in 1850, it is one of the 30 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company is best known for its credit card, charge card, and traveler's cheque businesses. Amex cards account for approximately 24% of the total dollar volume of credit card transactions in the US, the highest of any card issuer.|
Hong Kong Internet users are responsible for the highest volume of visits to Net Communities & Chat (HK 16.6% compared to US 11.9% w/ending 7/7/07); and Stocks & Shares (HK 3.1% compared to US 0.7% w/ending 7/7/07). Nonetheless, Shopping & Classifieds are still considered a major challenge by businesses.
According to Sandra Hanchard, this could be a result of culture. Shopping to Hong Kongers is a “social activity” and the solitary nature of online shopping just does not suit their taste. This reluctance to shop online was also highlighted by Irene Loh, who said that only businesses like cinema houses (online ticketing) and firms providing photo finishing seem to be successful as “users are willing to access” these.
The Follower Mentality
As international web based services have been widely accepted in Hong Kong there is little incentive to build a ‘new community’ when many of the resources are already present, explaining the low presence of local sites. Unlike China, clones to popular sites are also not found in HK. This has also been the reason for slow adaptation of social media as an advertising tool. According to Irene Low, Director of Digital Zenith Optimemedia, "Advertisers in HK are very cautious. They are very prudent in the way they handle media. They are still unsure of how to handle social media. It is definitely past infancy, but it is still in a trial and error stage. Engaging social media is not a definite goal for many MNCs. It is still a very new medium in HK and they don’t know about it. They mostly look for direction from the UK/US. I mean seriously, HK has never been known to be a pioneer. We’re better at following. Most companies are waiting for the established players to make a move."
A blog post by Thomas Crampton reveals a possible controversy surrounding action taken by Facebook towards an opposition group in Hong Kong. Read more about Facebook Repeatedly Deleting Hong Kong Opposition Groups.
Top 10 Recommended Follows1. #SMWHK
Igniting social media conversations in Hong Kong from 13-17 February 2012. Get Involved!
Follow this hashtag to find out more about the latest monthly Social Media gathering for work and play
Follow social times to find out latest social media news about Hong Kong and other countries!
ZDnetasia offers latest news about social media in Asia. Subscribe to it find out more about social media news in Hong Kong!
This Asia Digital Map shows a good overview and update of where Hong Kong stand in Asia in digital media.
6. TED HongKong
This RSS feed provides all you need to know about videos containing content for Hong Kong.
A good source of news for Hong Kong in social media and everything you need to know to get it going in Hong Kong.
8. Tech in Asia
Tech in Asia provides updated news on technology, digital and social media in Asia. '
This blog provides interesting infographics of social media in Asia-Pacific. It also provides you with insights about the digital trends as well as keeps you updated with the latest social media tools.
10. | We Are Social
A company which helps brands to listen, understand and engage in conversations in social media. This account provides us with updated digital media news and information about the various Asia countries. They will also release infographics about Digital Media in various countries including Hong Kong. A recent infographic titled “Social, Digital and Mobile in Hong Kong” was released in December 2011 by We Are Social.
Hear from the Experts
In this segment, you will get to hear first hand from experts sharing their insights on the social media scene in Hong Kong.
Managing Media Consultant, APAC Dow Jones
Lars advises leading public relations and corporate communications professionals in Asia Pacific on media and reputation management. At Dow Jones, he leads the PR & Corporate Communications segment in Asia Pacific, looking after business in excess of USD$5 million across the region. This includes strategic development, thought leadership initiatives and key client advisory. Lars works with renowned global and regional brands like Coca Cola, Fidelity, Honda, ING, Macquarie, Procter & Gamble, Telstra – as well as government and communications agencies.
|Jay Oatway|| Since 2007, Jay Oatway has led Hong Kong in social media reach and influence. With more than 100,000 followers worldwide and a digital influence score in the top percentiles, Jay has been dubbed “Hong Kong’s answer to Twitter royalty” by Marketing magazine. His tweets on web trends, social media developments and geek culture are among the most shared on Twitter.
When not tweeting, Jay provides social media training on how to tell stories that captivate, how to grow an audience that matters, and how to cultivate online influence that can deliver results.
Working as both a tech-journalist and digital strategist in Hong Kong since 1997, Jay has become a leading independent social media authority, speaking extensively to businesses about harnessing the power of the new digital tools.
|Jeremy Woolf|| Jeremy Woolf has worked in public relations and marketing for more than 18 years, with proven expertise in a wide range of communications disciplines.
He has consulted with blue chip companies across many sectors, including financial services, consumer and enterprise technology, sports and fast moving consumer goods.
Woolfs main focus areas have been traditional and social media relations. He has also led corporate branding, crisis and issues management, and executive coaching and development programs. Woolf is a sought after commentator on public relations and best practices. An active blogger, he also frequently contributes to industry publications on social media and public relations topics. Woolf is an in-demand public speaker and seasoned communications strategist, mentor and coach.
As Text 100s Global Social Media Lead, he manages the company's global social media practice. Woolf has direct reports leading the Asian, North American and European regions, with dedicated social media teams in each of Text 100s worldwide offices. Woolfs team is responsible for product and service development, team skill enhancement and client consulting. Woolf has consulted to and developed social media programs for blue chip clients around the world.
|Stella Wong||Stella works as a front line trainer in Hong Fook Tong. She shares with us briefly about how her company, a leading Hong Kong enterprise selling herbal drinks uses social media to reach out to the public.|
|Willy Wong||Willy is the President of Asia Pacific Operation, Mtel. Since Mtel is a Hong Kong-listed mobile service provider, he shares with us several insights on the mobile industry in Hong Kong.|
This is a 4-minute podcast discussing the media landscape and digital media usage in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is a highly technologically advanced and densely populated city. Netizens there are highly involved in content creation on social networking sites such as Facebook and Weibo. During major events in its recent history such as the SARS outbreak, H1N1 and the Avian Flu Pandemic, its people had to adapt to viewing and interacting with the world from within the safety of their homes. As such, HKers are comfortable with using the Internet and social media channels to do business and go about their daily lives, and well-placed to do so.
The following are case studies of businesses that successfully harnessed social media to engage the general population:
|Hong Kong Tourism Board launched its first short animated film as part of an online video tourism marketing campaign, Mr and Mrs Incredible. Created by Hong Kong local designer Prudence Mak, Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) launched this campaign to showcase the local Winter Fest celebrations across Hong Kong.|
|Audi launched its online auto digital social media marketing and advertising campaign in Hong Kong for its new model car Audi A1. This marketing campaign was aimed at younger consumers between ages 20 to 29 in Hong Kong.|
|Celebrating the international month for breast cancer, Hong Kong Cancer Fund launched its healthcare marketing campaign awareness Pink Revolution. Developed by creative advertising and marketing agency Grey group, the health marketing campaign aimed to boost rates of early detection and encourage women to be more aware of breast cancer symptoms.|
|Adidas opted for both a traditional and digital marketing approach with their Neo Label line of fashion. Billboard advertisements were placed around local youth hotspots to generate buzz while Sina Weibo and Facebook online brand pages were launched to allow people to communicate and connect directly with the Neo Label; Adidas’ social media efforts accumulated up to 10,000 visits in two months.|
Details of the above cases can be found in the slides shared here:
On social media week
- Statistics from Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department. Retrieved from http://www.censtatd.gov.hk/hong_kong_statistics/statistics_by_subject/index.jsp?subjectID=1&charsetID=2&displayMode=T
- European Travel Commission New Media Trend Watch. Retrieved from http://www.newmediatrendwatch.com/markets-by-country/11-long-haul/51-hong-kong
- Statistics from International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved from http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/cs/hongkong/material/CS_HKG.pdf
- Internet Use in Hong Kong: the 2008 Annual Survey Report (Jan2009). Retrieved from http://newmedia.cityu.edu.hk/hkip/
- Social Media Week ‘Checks Into’ Hong Kong Retrieved from http://blogs.wsj.com/hong-kong/2011/02/08/social-media-week-checks-into-hong-kong
- GlobalWebIndex as cited in company blog, June 14, 2011
- Source: comScore Inc., "State of the Internet with a Focus on Southeast Asia," March 9, 2011
- Taking a more refined view of social media. Retrieved from http://hongkongbusiness.hk/information-technology/commentary/taking-more-refined-view-social-media
- Hong Kong Consumers Most Likely to Shop Online for Booking Travels, Books and Clothing. Retrieved from http://hk.nielsen.com/news/20100914.shtml Nielsen