The favourite social-media site among Hong Kongers is Facebook, while Weibo is the least favourite, according to Ralph Szeto, vice chairman of HKAIM.
Facebook's sales director, Anita Lam, of course agreed. "Social media's word-of-mouth approach amplifies the potential reach and sales your brand can make," she said.
Those are triggered by a psychological factor. "When you see that Anita 'likes' Starbucks on Facebook, a positive association of the brand has been subliminally built in your mind, and we believe that you, as Anita's friend, are more likely to purchase Starbucks as well".
Sales volume is a surefire way to fend off perennial doubts from bosses and ensure that you maintain the same amount of social-media adspend budget, said Vivian Lee, marketing director, Ocean Park Hong Kong.
She advised marketers to take it step by step though. First, seek to measure different metrics during different phases of social-media marketing: the number of fans in phase one, engagement in phase two, then sales in phase three.
The prerequisite to being able to measure sales that are directly caused by social-media marketing is not to treat social media as just a space to buy ads, but a place to build relationships.
"Social media is an enabler of ownership of a brand's community in order to battle online with competitors," she said. For Ocean Park, animal photos, festival gimmicks, and event news are the most attention-grabbing content on social media, the forms of content that attract people to join the community, according to Lee.
Lam agreed. "Only when you have the fan numbers can you sell to them," she said. "You gotta have fans, because fans spend more, transact more frequently and visit your sites more often. These are all practical benefits."
Norman Tam, head of Hong Kong and Taiwan, Tencent Holdings, repeated how practical benefits, or utilitarian content will bring in the money.
In terms of mobile marketing, he cited case studies from McDonald's and China Southern Airlines. The fast food chain ran a straightforward WeChat campaign recently for free upgrades of extra-value meals. "The simplicity of the campaign added users very quickly into the brand's WeChat account and also brought traffic AND sales to its stores," he said.
As for the Chinese airline, it provided mobile check-ins and boarding passes via its WeChat account, accumulating an average of 500 new users per day. "This combination of customer service and marketing sets the stage for the future when mobile commerce swings into action," Tam added.
Tencent is currently pushing on with plans to monetize its popular mobile messaging app by introducing payments via its PayPal-like TenPay service. "The game-winner is about inciting reaction and conversion, not just fan count and forwards," Tam stated.
According to the Hong Kong Social Media Marketers Survey 2013, based on a sample size of 150, the top difficulty with using social media for business purposes is the ever-changing rules, regulations, functions and formats of various platforms—54 per cent cited this factor.
Henry Chang, information technology advisor from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data in Hong Kong, updated the audience about new laws that will take effect on 1 April.
Monitoring of social networks to gather opinions, in the eyes of the law, may be deemed as an action of "collecting" personal data. If one is in possession of enough such data, one may be subject to regulatory supervision by the Privacy Commission.
"Even though it seems like information on social media is is public and almost 'fed to you' for free, monitoring tools such as a 'like analysis' of Facebook users may still constitute a breach of data privacy protection if you are not careful," he said.
Key principles on personal data are the informed consent of individuals, the security of collected data, and the transparency of all policies and procedures, he said.