News

Social Media Carves Niche in Marketing to Asia

Published on August 30, 2013
By Dave Erdman, PBN Contributor

Social media has earned a place in the marketing mix as a powerful tool to attract and influence consumer behavior throughout the English-speaking world.

Increasingly, the Asian market — especially international travelers — are turning to social media to gather information, express themselves, and make decisions.

Online social media sites — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp — are examples of social media that the English-speaking public has chosen to use to generate its own content and rapidly disseminate information and opinions.

The “online thought leader,” or social media of choice, in Asia varies by country. The business of integrated social media marketing in Asia requires cultural knowledge, technical skill, editorial and language expertise, as well as a great amount of strategic planning and measurements.

PacRim Marketing Group, which specializes in helping brands increase share and spend of the Asian international traveler market, uses multiple social media platforms to communicate in Asia, including its Asian language websites about Hawaii, search engines, and social media networks like Naver, Daum, Weibo, Twitter, Facebook, and video sharing websites, YouTube, Youku, Tudou and Pandora.

In developing social media strategies to market in Asia, it is important to understand the market and consumer behaviors, which vary in each culture. For example, nearly 80 percent of the online population in Korea uses the Naver blog, which combines and connects websites, social networks, video and other online information in an “omni-channel” approach that differs from English-language search engines and blogs. In China there are restrictions online to consider that influence the nature of social media there.
 
Dan Zhai, editor of www.MyHawaii.cn (Chinese website about Hawaii) at PacRim Marketing Group, uses Weibo and WeChat (Weixin in Chinese), social media similar to Twitter, with www.MyHawaii.cn to communicate with her Chinese-speaking audience, which is mostly in China and North America. She is seeing an increase in WeChat usage, which is in both Chinese and English. She also is seeing that for the Taiwan market, Facebook, Yahoo and personal blogs are more effective, while Weibo is increasing in popularity there, but mostly with celebrities. She currently has 5,248 followers on her Weibo account, with a reach of 7,000 views of one message.

In Japan, Twitter and Facebook are popular. PacRim Marketing Group’s Japanese website about Hawaii — www.Hawaii-Arukikata.com — posted its first Tweet in April 2009 and now has nearly 20,000 Japanese-speaking Twitter followers who love Hawaii.

PacRim Marketing Group has an entire business unit dedicated to online marketing to Asia. Its website and social media editors and content managers speak fluent Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. They develop content, gather intelligence on consumer behavior, and engage in conversation with their viewers, subscribers, followers and “friends” daily, while sharing information about Hawaii, its brands and organizations, events, activities, and news.

Social media content is altered and generated based on what the consumer likes and responds to. Pancakes, acai bowls and waffles, as well as retail and shopping news, are hot topics right now. A posting of a photo of a pancake on PacRim Marketing Group’s Japanese-language Facebook on www.hawaii-arukikata.com (My Hawaii-powered by Hawaii-Arukikata.com) generates 200 to 300 “likes” in a few hours. Sharp close-up photos of food and photos with vivid colors are viewed most and create engagement.
 
Content featuring celebrities are especially impactful in Korea, as evidenced by PSY’s most “liked” YouTube video, “Gangnam Style.” PacRim Marketing Group’s parody of that video, “Hawaii Style,” went viral — even airing at the opening of the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) — broadcast in more than 85 countries.
Jiyeon Kim, who edits and creates content for PacRim’s Korean website about Hawaii, www.myhawaii.kr, started a Naver blog to promote the website, based on Naver’s popularity. The blog’s page views have grown to nearly 50,000 a month.

In online strategy meetings, the PacRim Marketing Group team discusses targeted metrics, click-throughs, bounce-backs, gamification, key words, search engine optimization, views, content, earned media, and consumer response on a weekly basis , proving that social media is a complicated and evolving business, especially when marketing to Asia.