James Hong is clearly a natural in front of the camera. I donâ€™t even need to say â€ścheeseâ€ť as we sit down for lunch.
Indeed, this is what is needed to be the face of a company like Sony Computer Entertainment.
â€śIt’s as important for us to be in social media as it is for us to be investing in digital marketing,” says Hong, pointing out more than 90% of SEC customers are heavy users of digital platforms.
Sonyâ€™s gaming and digital camera markets have been dealt a heavy blow by the rapid growth of mobile devices and having a strong presence on social media is now a remedy strategy to halt this decline.
But the personal touch is also what Sony is angling for as a key point of difference to the growing band of competitors.
â€śWe encourage staff to build relationships with consumers, especially on Weibo,â€ť says.
And Weibo is quickly emerging as a key battle ground with 80% of retail market in Hong Kong driven by mainland travelers.
WeChat, he believes, will most likely override Weibo in the future.
â€śIt is so hard to resist such a comprehensive platform.”
â€śThere was a time when a customer asked me on Weibo why I was staying up late one night. It melted my heart.â€ť
Outside his role with SEC, Hong is also a keen traveler, with a slew of published works on the travel industries.
When asked how he fits it in he laughs and says: â€śThis precisely mirrors another benefit social media brings – engaging with customers without time and location limits.
â€śMarketers nowadays should no longer be stuck behind a desk working with marketing plans, we should be able to reach out and engage with consumers wherever and whenever we want”.
But despite that there is a lot of work on for Hong as Sony readies to launch PlayStation 4.
Not surprisingly, digital marketing will play a central role in the launch, but social integration into its hardware has been introduced with a â€śshareâ€ť button added on the controllers.
â€śIt not only boosts interaction between users but also helps increase our social media presence,” Hong says.
Asked if there are any hidden dangers in social media marketing, he says : “I guess it should not be any problem until one day all social platforms were down!”