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The Power of Social Media

Bobo the Bear featured prominently in the “Visa Loves the Peak” campaign last summer 
Bobo the Bear featured prominently in the “Visa Loves the Peak” campaign last summer 

Social media’s influence on purchasing intent is strong across all regions, but strongest in the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Latin America and the African markets, according to Nielsen’s “State of the Media – The Social Media Report.” Almost 30 per cent of Asia-Pacific users tap into social media daily to learn more about brands, products and services, according to the 2012 report.

Tom Tobin, Country Manager, Visa Hong Kong and Macau, says Visa concentrates on Facebook, focusing on getting fan support and strong momentum. Visa launched its Facebook page in March 2013. “While most companies focus on fan acquisition, we put the onus on relevance to our fans and effective engagement,” Mr Tobin said. “We devote our time and effort into developing content that resonates with our audience and connects with them emotionally,” using company research and consumer insights. 

As an example, he cites the company’s Visa Loves the Peak campaign last summer. Partnering with local designer Douglas Young, it brought campaign ambassador, Bobo the Bear, to the Peak. “We used an integrated marketing programme, which included special merchant offers, iconic experiences like the Peak Tram anniversary and, most importantly, purposeful social media to generate lots of buzz for Bobo the Bear,” he said. “We also created a photo collection of Bobo in different outfits to bring this fan friend to life, and posted his photos on Facebook to better engage with our fans.” 

 Jonathan Liu
 Jonathan Liu, founder and CEO of social media marketing and digital advertising agency Moonlight Marketing, says companies want to tap such media platforms as Instagram and WeChat
Mr Tobin notes that while many brands now use social media, each campaign needs to be relevant to their brand promise and useful to their audience. “To hit the mark, we believe we will see a greater focus on content marketing in the social media arena rather than just simple campaign bursts aimed at fan acquisition.” 

The challenge of attracting fan attention, he says, always lies in being attractive and relevant. “We achieve this through daily conversations with our fans, so they can tell us what they are passionate about and how Visa can empower them. This is not easy,” he says. “We devote extensive resources towards enabling our fans, which often requires us to identify the latest market trends and to provide immediate responses.” 

Content is King

A social media campaign created by Digital Devotee for lifestyle brand Oakley 

A social media campaign created
by Digital Devotee for lifestyle
brand Oakley

 
Jonathan Liu, founder and CEO of social media marketing and digital advertising agency Moonlight Marketing, which has developed apps for a diverse number of clients, including Alibaba and lifestyle brand Oakley, says prospective clients are interested in tapping newer social media platforms such as Instagram and WeChat.   

According to Mr Liu, many companies that tentatively use social media are starting to realise what large brands have long known: content is a huge part of the calculation of getting users engaged. “We’ve seen many instances where advertisers mistakenly assumed that simply launching the social media platforms was enough to get users to pay attention to their brand, which is not the case in any meaningful sense.” 

Mr Liu adds that “more and more case studies are emerging of how brands are tracking [social media] effectiveness, so I expect continued scrutiny from brands to justify continued investment.” 

Visual Presence

 Taura Edgar
 

Taura Edgar, founder of Hong Kong-based digital marketing company Digital Devotee, has worked on social media campaigns for major companies

Taura Edgar, founder of Hong Kong-based digital marketing company Digital Devotee, has worked on social media campaigns for major companies, including Asia Miles. “We worked with Asia Miles to create a customer service focus on their newly launched social-media platforms last year. Digital Devotee was the key digital consultant working with Asia Miles’ loyalty agency, ICLP, formulating its social media customer-service capabilities: from hiring and training the staff, to setting guidelines and implementing systems.”

Ms Edgar says that some of the best social media content she sees is on Instagram, which encourages original photography. This is an initiative that could work particularly well for the gift sector, which could use the site to showcase its products. “We are visual animals, and if you have a brand that lends itself to visual marketing, this is a space for you to express your style and personality while engaging new audiences.” For those that remain unconvinced that Instagram is the right tool for them, Ms Edgar recommends checking out such unexpected Instagram participants as General Electric. 

Ms Edgar also sees steady growth in customer-service functions across social media in Asia, though she adds that it is still lagging behind such markets as the United States and Europe. “Providing service is one of the best customer retention tools you have and well worth the investment, so go where they are, and make yourself available. Air Asia, for example, gives many options via its “ask” function,” she notes. 

Before devising a social media programme, Ms Edgar urges companies to invest heavily in content creation and make themselves available for two-way conversations with customers. She also advises embracing the live chat element, which she sees as an emerging trend. “As we all become bigger users of things like WeChat and WhatsApp, they will further develop their commercial functionality, making it easier for service providers to use.” 

She also believes that cross-platform marketing will also be on the rise. She offers the example of brands taking advantage of such tools as Pinterest and its new ability to show users when their pinned product’s price drops, based on a change at the brand’s website.

Related Links
Digital Devotee
Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair 
Moonlight Marketing 
Visa

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