22 October 2016
Activists from organizations such as Hong Kong Shark Foundation have successfully used social media to raise awareness of their cause. Photo: Facebook
Activists from organizations such as Hong Kong Shark Foundation have successfully used social media to raise awareness of their cause. Photo: Facebook

How social media is disrupting the traditional HK food scene

It all starts with data. Most marketers agree that behind every successful brand is a strategic social listening plan, one that allows an organisation to track mentions of their brand and competitors.

It is critical for brands to listen and understand social data before they can make smart business decisions.

Yet, one question pops up time and time again is where do we start?

In the mushrooming media landscape of the digital age, the internet holds a wealth of untapped customer information that many brands, particularly the more traditional companies, find too overwhelming to harness. This is where social intelligence comes in.

Those able to embrace new marketing innovations and tools quickly and effectively are able to gather vital insights and opportunities for new customers that are often overlooked by those slower to adopt.

Several notable companies are making their own positive mark on the local food scene in Hong Kong.

Identifying the right audience

The recent shark fin initiative driven by WWF has generated successful support in the removal of shark fin soup as a delicacy from local menus and has reportedly reduced the Shark fin trade from Hong Kong to China by close to 90 per cent in the last year according to figures released in April 2016.

Over Chinese New Year, activists from the Hong Kong Shark Foundation and WildAid also campaigned in unmissable costumes around North Point to raise awareness of the cause which led to images of shark being shared across social platforms, the overall support gaining huge momentum.

The key to identifying influencers is to determine their Social Influence, which should include the relevance of the content they are sharing, which networks they are on, their follower base, and how they interact with their followers.

But at the same time, consider which offline channels they are likely to frequent and the influence they play in these channels.

Developing campaigns 

Another great example of a brand that has successfully embraced social media platforms to broaden their customer reach and keep itself relevant to a younger demographic is traditional Chinese bakery, Kee Wah.

The brand is no newcomer to using digital, social and mobile media channels in its marketing campaigns.

And in order to understand its customers’ preferences and keep up with market trends, Kee Wah turns to media intelligence.

These insights have helped the brand to measure the impact of its campaigns on consumer engagement and in turn, optimise its social media and marketing ROI.

It is all about audience insights.

Just as it is important to understand the most common issues and wins associated with your industry, having a solid idea of what your audiences are interested in or care about will help you design a campaign that they can identify with.

Increasing brand engagement

After the introduction of the online food delivery service in Hong Kong, competing brands have taken to clever business strategies to drive rapid growth.

Thanks to regular promotions across social media from the likes of foodpanda and Deliveroo, Hongkongers have recently enjoyed free delivery and breakfast deliveries in Central.

Social media channels are also buzzing with images of great eats, highlighting new restaurants across Hong Kong that food fans might not previously have known about.

Make a list of the online conversations focusing on your brand, products and competitors.

Apart from understanding which networks these conversations originate from, the topics most commonly associated with your brand and sentiment of the conversations are essential to developing highly targeted campaigns later on.

Sentiment-led product innovation

The well-known local eatery Yum Cha has truly embraced the powers of Instagram and created its very own photogenic line of sweet buns that spew delicious fillings from its mouth as you puncture them.

These much loved deserts became an overnight sensation thanks to the share-ability of Yum Cha’s dishes on social media and have even made international headlines.

Food already lends itself very well to the photogenic qualities of social media, however adapting the menu to include Instagram-able products is a surefire way of ensuring organic marketing.

Your most critical customers is likely to also play one of the most important roles in your campaign development.

Engage and nurture relationships with users who are leaving constructive criticisms online.

Often, they will also be willing to share feedback and advice on how a certain aspect of your business can be improved.

Reaping the true rewards of social media

Company executives focus heavily on historical sales data to guide their business decisions, however the time lag between gathering this data and analysing it brings about vast limitations and only provides half the insight.

In order for the data obtained to be truly actionable, a brand needs to seek out the right conversations, use the right measurement tools and ask the right questions to understand how to interpret the data presented before them.

With a highly focused social listening plan in place, organisations can then go beyond just monitoring its brand and use these insights to enhance other programmes, including marketing and communications, business development, product innovation, customer service and human resources.

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Area Director Greater China at Meltwater

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