Benjamin Li
Feb 9, 2011

Young population, user engagement push social media movement in Asia

HONG KONG - The high level of user engagement, coupled with a younger population more willing to express themselves in the blogging sphere and the high mobile adoption rate in Asia, are pushing the social media movement in Asia, social media experts said at the opening event for Social Media Week Hong Kong which kicked off yesterday.

Speakers Olivier Legrand, Frank Rose, Rudi Leung and Blake Chandlee
Speakers Olivier Legrand, Frank Rose, Rudi Leung and Blake Chandlee

Social Media Week Hong Kong kicked off with a jam-packed press conference at the Pawn Restaurant in Wan Chai yesterday, with a panel of social media experts discussing the movement in Hong Kong and other countries.

Heavy-weight speakers included Blake Chandlee, VP of emerging markets for Facebook, Olivier Legrand, general manager for Asia at Wall Street Journal Digital Network, Frank Rose, contributing editor to Wired Magazine and author of The Art of Immersion, Rudi Leung, director of communication planning at AGENDA Asia and a prolific Hong Kong blogger.

Chandlee shared how social media has transformed everything in both business and in personal life. He shared a personal account of using Facebook to find suggestions for things to do when he visited Hong Kong for the first time from New York, even meeting up with an old childhood friend during his stay.

He went on to suggest that marketers, clients and agencies have to let go of the traditional way of thinking when it comes to running a business, as social media has had such a big impact on business models and transformed the way in which companies operate.

Legrand spoke of how WSJ tackled different markets in Asia. He said that although huge markets in Asia are occupied by big global social media players like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, key countries like China and Japan have their own local versions, including and Sina Weibo in China and Mixi and Gree in Japan, due to restrictions placed on most international players in these markets.

"There is an important trend we are experiencing in social media in Asia with the high level of engagement of users, and the younger population who are more willing to express themselves in the blogging sphere, and the high mobile adoption in Asia," he added.

Rose talked about how social media connections like Facebook have blurred the lines between countries and cities. He said that social media reveals, enhances and strengthens the relationships between people internationally, making them more tangible.

He went on to say that brands and individuals looking to share information or stories on social media need to do so strategically, whether "its for love, money or both".

In his presentation, Leung took a look at the rapid social media development in Hong Kong. He traces the timeline from the 2006 'Uncle Bus' sensation on YouTube generating over two million viewers to the trend of bloggers publishing their blog content in 'blook' (blog and book) format. He points to the arrival of the Sina Weibo craze in 2010 and, most recently, SAR chief executive officer Donald Tsang's Christmas greetings on Facebook last year.

Following the presentations, guests and speakers were ushered to the rooftop for happy hour.

Global event Social Media Week, taking place in Hong Kong this week from 8 to 12 February, marks the SAR’s first citywide event dedicated to discussing emerging trends in social media and how they impact society and business.

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