The use of social media platforms Instagram and Snapchat has risen sharply in Hong Kong as the popularity of highly visual channels continues to grow, according to Connected Life, the latest study of over 70,000 consumers from global research consultancy Kantar TNS.
Developments in mobile technology are a clear driver, with the number of smartphones users across the Asia Pacific region now numbering over a billion – 5 million of them in Hong Kong – and increasingly powerful smartphone cameras giving connected users the opportunity to take and share photos instantly.
Across the region, Snapchat has gained the most traction in Hong Kong, as the number of users has more than doubled from 19% to 46% in the past year. New Zealand and Malaysia are not far behind, where Snapchat users are at 39% and 37% respectively.
Hong Kong has the second highest penetration figures for Instagram in the region after Malaysia, with 70% of internet users on the platform. Across Asia Pacific, it is clear that connected consumers are expanding their use of social media beyond Facebook and testing newer, more visual channels.
While young people are the biggest social media users across all platforms, the rise of the ‘Insta-Gran’ is also gaining momentum; Almost half (44%) of internet users in Hong Kong aged 55 – 65 now use Instagram.
The rise of these platforms provides brands with new opportunities to target and engage consumers. However, brands need to be mindful of evolving consumer attitudes as they look to take advantage of the diversifying social media landscape.
The Connected Life results reveal that one in five (20%) connected consumers in Hong Kong ‘actively ignore’ social posts or content from brands. Businesses need to avoid being invasive as a third (30%) already feel ‘constantly followed’ by online advertising.
In addition, the study found that influencers and celebrities hold the key to connecting with consumers. Almost half (42%) of online 16 – 24 year olds in Hong Kong say they trust what people say online about brands more than ‘official’ sources, such as newspapers, brands’ own websites or TV adverts.
Again, younger people are the more influencer-oriented group, trusting bloggers and peers rather than information from brands. The older generation’s ‘influencer network’ is still primarily friends and family. However, considering this group’s adoption of other trends, they may soon refer to social media influencers for inspiration and information.
William Choi, associate director, Hong Kong at Kantar TNS, said:
"People in Hong Kong are very open and quick to adopt new trends, regardless of their age, and the study confirms that this is also true for new social media platforms. In the same way, we’ve seen the rise of Pokemon Go, and witnessed many of the older generation catching Pokemon on the street. In this new connected era of multiple channels, we need to look beyond age to target the audiences’ emotional mindset on that channel in order to create campaigns that resonate.”
Zoë Lawrence, APAC digital director at Kantar TNS, also suggested that the rise of Instagram and Snapchat highlight how consumers are eagerly adopting visual ways of expressing themselves, as they embrace the ability to capture and share moments.
"This provides brands with multiple new channels to engage with consumers in a deeper and more effective way," he stated. "Brands need to approach each platform individually to ensure the content created mixes seamlessly into the user-generated feed and maintains their own integrity."