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James Hong

Out to lunch: The social way

James Hong is clearly a natural in front of the camera. I don’t even need to say “cheese” as we sit down for lunch.

Indeed, this is what is needed to be the face of a company like Sony Computer Entertainment.

“It’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.

Sony’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.

“We encourage staff to build relationships with consumers, especially on Weibo,” 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.

“It is so hard to resist such a comprehensive platform.”

“There was a time when a customer asked me on Weibo why I was staying up late one night. It melted my heart.”

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: “This precisely mirrors another benefit social media brings – engaging with customers without time and location limits.

“Marketers 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 “share” button added on the controllers.

“It 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!”

 

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