Monthly Archives: April 2014

Online Consumer Behavior in a Word: CRAZY!

The Latin phrase “Caveat Emptor” meaning “Let the buyer beware” was consumer watch phrase for a very long time, but since nobody speaks Latin anymore there is a new phrase “Wooo Hoooo let’s spend like drunken sailors!” In the last few years there have been many changes in how consumers can buy goods and services. Amazon and E-bay broke the mold of conventional retail and brought online purchasing and direct to door delivery to the everyday experience. Nowhere has this seen the biggest change as in China. Of course this has to be taken in context. It wasn’t long ago that China didn’t have a pot to piss in and now that pot is overflowing with cash. China is breaking records for online sales and some examples boggle the mind like spending US$100 million on real estate through a website and QQ*.


But it is not all as crazy at it seems. What has happened is that the purchase cycle has changed. The internet and social media has greatly increased access to product information and product reviews. The term used is ROPO or research online purchase on/off line. The emphasis on online research is at an all time high with between 50% (U.S.) and 80% (China) not making a purchase without researching online in which UGC is an important component. UGC is user generated content, meaning comments left by people you likely do not even know. However, doing a personal evaluation of brand truthfulness, and legitimacy they are an increasingly valuable in creating brand trust; think bloggers. So what does this mean for brands? It means that more than ever they need to be less concerned with hard core sales techniques and advertising in social spaces and more on answering and addressing customer questions and concerns. This is critically important for online Customer Service. Many brands have cosmetically perfect social profiles, but they lack depth, customer engagement, comments and other factors that contribute to authenticity. More than ever customers are looking for real information about brands, not the carefully crafted advertising campaigns of past. If you are a brand ask yourself what is the most important component of your social media strategy. If you say, it is communicating about your brand, chances are you are doing a shit job.

Much success,



http://www.PRDA.Asia is a leading social media management agency

http://www.PRDA.Asia is a leading social media management agency




Current Trends in Millennial use of Social Media by Application; Hong Kong and China

March 2014

Social Media Millennial Analysis

Current Trends in Millennial use of Social Media by Application


Table of Contents



Social Media and Millennials Overview:





YouTube/ Youku:

Sina Weibo:





PRDA has long recommended a strategy of multi-channel social media engagement for clients (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Sina Weibo, blogs, YouTube,etc) rather than focusing  on a single channel. In traditional marketing this is a standard approach where positioning content across a variety of media and locations increases chance of exposure and retention. It also allows for variation of the message to prevent fatigue or be more focused for customer segmentation and it allows the message to be seen in different contexts to reinforce the message. But in social media businesses often go against what they know to be a good strategy and choose to narrow the channels thus limiting benefit which does little to reduce costs but significantly reduces marketing potential. The benefits are proven:


  • Higher ranking Search Engine Results

  • More effective Reputation management

  • Larger Share of Voice

  • Better Sentiment scores

  • Greater Organic Reach

  • Better customer targeting/ segmentation

  • Day parting/ and message optimization

  • Expanded customer and competitor information


It is becoming increasingly important for social media marketers to recognise this strategy primarily due to significant  shifts in online behaviour by millennials (18 – 34). This paper presents the recent assumption of a decreasing interest in key social media sites Facebook and Sina Weibo by millennials and discusses this in the context of a general increase in social media use by millennials but across a wider range of applications with clearly divergent use patterns from their older cohorts. It should be noted that Hong Kong specific data is scarce and some of the information presented  to be extrapolated from other studies not specific to Hong Kong using PRDA’s  knowledge of Hong Kong to make informed assumptions. We believe the data and assumptions to be valid.


Social Media and Millennials Overview:

There have been concerns voiced recently in both online and offline publications that Millennials, and especially 18 -24 years old, are moving away from social media or at least away from the foundational apps of Facebook and Sina Weibo. However, this is only partly true. Social media usage is not slowing among any segment of the population as reported by, and many others,  but social media usage is showing definite change. This is becoming most evident in the younger demographic groups.

If social media use is strong but use of Facebook is slowing then what are they doing? Simply put, the world for Millennials has changed. Mobile, Smartphones, 3G and Tablets have significantly changed behaviour patterns and expectations. The younger the group the greater the shift in habit with 18-24 years old segment displaying a media engagement pattern radically different than any other group. One third do not watch TV, the rest of time is spent on range of mobile based activities from streaming movies to browsing UGC. The 25 – 34 age range use Smart Phones for 50% of their video viewing and reach for them 350 times a day. The very small screen now monopolizes most all activities. With this move to mobile a couple of assumptions can be made about why their behaviour patterns are changing so dramatically. Three assumptions rank highest in reports. First the Greying of Facebook – “I don’t want to use the same app as my parents”. Second is the definition of luxury “I want what I want and I want it now”. They then add to this statement “and I want to be able to share it.”

We have a culture of millennials born in a digital culture that are inquisitive, have low brand loyalty, access to unlimited choice and want to express their individualism by being the same as their friends. In short, cultivating a social media strategy is highly important to reach millennials and as younger millennials age it is a requirement, not an option to provide an ever widening number of options to stay in touch with their customers.



The remainder of this paper will provide information about recommended social media applications important to an effective social media strategy for Hong Kong/ Asia. Millennials are using a wider range of applications such as image sites like Instagram, SnapChat and Pinterest. They are  watching more videos on YouTube and Youku and Instagram. They are also spending more time on messaging apps like WeChat, Whatsapp and Line. In the U.S. Tumblr is popular but it would be my unsupported opinion that this is largely due to Whatsapp being the only widely used messaging app and it lacks functionality therefore users are looking to Tumblr for a richer experience. For the purposes of this paper the discussion will focus on Asia/ Hong Kong apps that are popular among millennials. These are Facebook, WeChat, Instagram and YouTube/ YouKu, Sina Weibo and Linkedin.


There have been several sources that suggest a slowdown in Facebook use by millennials. This decline in Millennials has been blamed by some on the “Greying of Facebook”. An increasing number of articles suggest that Millennials and especially teens are leaving Facebook e.g. and stating reasons ranging from getting away from Parents, it has become boring and expressing interest in other sites. published this graph showing a decrease in U.S. teens adoption of Facebook down sharply. Note, that 25-34 year olds still show a strong 36% increase.


Regardless the reason, the flattening of registration numbers appear to support these assumptions and as reported by 18-24 years olds y/y are spending 25% less time on Facebook in favour of other sites such as Instgram. So is Facebook finished? Not even close. As high as 94% of all millennials on the Internet have a Facebook profile therefore due to this already high percentage continuing to show dramatic increases in registration is not likely. As reported by statistics site 66% of 18-34 year olds are active on Facebook with almost 50% checking Facebook the first thing in the morning. Also there are 1.3 Billion registered users with 1.23 Billion active monthly and 757 million active on any given day suggesting that it will continue to be strong for a very long time. A report published by showing that 69% of millenials plan no change in Facebook future use. In Hong Kong there are 4.6 million registered users and 2.6 million are millennials.

So what is the upside for Brands? Facebook seems to be used by millennials to stay engaged with brands. published an article stating 66% of millennials follow a brand online with the top reasons being:


Based on U.S. data it seems clear that teens are cooling to Facebook. However, the key demographic 24-35 still remains robust. Additionally as persons age they are more likely to join Facebook after getting past the “my mom is on it” phase of their life. Most importantly, Facebook continues to be the platform for Brand engagement making it a powerful communication tool with little sign of this being significantly lost to other sites in the near future. However, it is important to note that changing behavior patterns strongly suggest that teens and millennials are spreading their time across more apps and the decrease in time spent on Facebook will continue.



WeChat is a messaging app from China based TenCent originally launched with voice messages being the key attraction. This allowed for instant messaging without need for keypad input. WeChat quickly added functionality to expand its utility and go global. It is arguably the first social media application out of China to push for a global audience. states that WeChat will likely remain the choice in Asia over Whatsapp. We add that WeChat is clearly superior to Whatsapp for businesses having launched two well defined business platforms; Service and Subscription. WeChat demographic data specific to Hong Kong is difficult to find despite having released detailed information in November 2013. However, what is known is that there are approximately 300 million subscribers with a y/y growth of close to 200%. WeChat’s target age is 20-30 making up 76% of its users as reported in  U.S. China Today. Popularity in Hong Kong can be seen in its continued high rank on download charts from for March 3, 2014 it placed 8th for IOS and 2nd for Android.

The technical platform and demographics fit marketing purposes good but does the online behaviour also align with Marketing goals? reports that WeChat user behaviour is highly tuned to interacting with brands, finding new information and as a tool to discover new areas and people of interest. It appears to be a significantly more interactive app than just a standard messaging app.



WeChat’s rapid growth in China and Hong Kong does not appear to be slowing. By having a clear business platform it has made it easier for businesses and Users to interact. The demographic profile of 20 – 30 years old and the general user behaviour of being inquisitive and looking for information and brand interaction makes it compelling for businesses. There are also an increasing number of case studies on WeChat documenting successful marketing strategies.



Instagram like many other apps without direct service advert sections or open API’s  make if difficult to get exact demographic data therefore information released by the company or indirect calculations is required. What we do know, as reported by, is that there are about 150 million registered users with 50% of them regularly active and it is the fast growing app of all main social media apps outside of China at 23% y/y. Also according to 60% of registered users are outside of the U.S. Instagram is the first application to cross the #GFW and integrate with both Sina Weibo and Facebook. estimates that 52%+ are 18 -34 years old and a report by using traffic patterns from Alexa estimate that there are 790,000 users in Hong Kong. A search of revealed that there are 3 million photos tagged #HongKong. However, Instagram’s greatest contribution may not be total number of users but in the influence and rate of engagement of the users themselves, as reported by and, Instagram users are highly active with engagement rates 15 times higher than Facebook and users spend on average 4.5 hours per month on the app, twice that of Twitter. Additionally, Instagram is brand intensive with 40% of shared videos being branded content. Nine out of ten Instagram video shares take place on Facebook.



Instagram is the fastest growing global mobile app. Ninety percent of its demographic is below 35 years old and is highly engaged. The estimated number of Hong Kong users is 790,000 with almost 50% active regularly. It is also the only app that shares on both Sina Weibo and Facebook as a native API. Brands do very well on Instagram and therefore it has become a welcome home, especially for hosting image competitions or tracking brand conversations.

YouTube/ Youku:


The dramatic change in online video viewing in recent years has been precipitated by a number of factors such as access to fast Internet and the introduction of Smartphones and Tablets. The biggest change in viewing behaviour has been with millennials and more specifically 18 – 24 years old. In the U.S. a dramatic decreasing in TV viewing has taken place since 2010 wiith a 10% decline in TV viewing by the 18-24 group and 34% stating they watch no TV as reported by with data from YuMe. also reported Nielsen data showing a sweeping change in viewing for millennials with only 10% of 18 years old watching traditional TV and increasing only slightly to 15% at age 25. More than 50% of all video viewed by 25- 34 years old was on Tablets or Smartphones.

Graph showing significant decline in teen viewing..JPG

In China where technology has leapfrogged the West the numbers are even more dramatic. Where a China Internet Watch  report revealed that as many as 50% of respondents do not watch any TV. And when asked whether they would prefer a TV show or online video, 75% responded Video.

Given this clear pattern of decline in TV viewing and move to online video through Smartphones and tablets it is not surprising to find both in China and U.S. millennial’s reasons for online video viewing are similar by stating convenience, being able to watch anytime and anyplace and sharing with friends make it preferable to traditional TV viewing. Millennials also consume more video of any other age group with a significant greater consumption of User Generated Content.



Millennials 18 – 34 are the highest consumers of online video. The shifting pattern away from traditional TV creates new opportunities to reach consumers. Millennials are choosing Smartphones and Tablets as their primary viewing source because of breadth of choice, freedom and the ability to share the experience. Whereas YouTube and YouKu remain the cornerstones of video hosting app based consumer generated content videos are gaining good ground. Instagram has already been discussed in an earlier section, with its release of a video feature it is gaining greater marketing value. 9 out of 10 Instagram video shares happen on Facebook.


Sina Weibo:

Sina Weibo is the cornerstone of China social media. Sina Weibo is also the entry point for most brands into China social media. Recently Sina Weibo has seen sharp declines in new user registration and existing user engagement. Government intervention citing censorship created a 70% drop in user interaction. The numbers are recovering and Sina Weibo is on its way to a U.S. IPO. As there is no viable alternative that can replace Sina Weibo in the short term, its status is secure for sometime. Upstarts such as WeChat were discussed earlier in this paper. The primary concern about Sina Weibo is its utility for Hong Kong marketing. The demographic data supporting Hong Kong usage is strong with 2.5 million registered users of which approximately 1.5 million are millennials. There are 850,000 unique visitors per month and 3,000 (Verified) corporate accounts. market.


However, the best asset of Sina Weibo is more than Fan numbers alone. Sina Weibo has more Hong Kong influencers being more active than on most any other social site. PRDA has demonstrated the importance of Sina Weibo for a social media strategy with a recent online event which demonstrated that for sharing of content amongst Hong Kongers Sina Weibo was superior.

Full data restricted by client confidentiality.



Sina Weibo continues to be an important part of a local social media plan. Its strong numbers in Hong Kong demonstrate that among the Chinese language audience it has strong relevance. This can be seen most clearly on the high percentage of influencers registered and high rate of sharing that eclipses other social applications. However, Sina Weibo does not align well with Facebook. Each must be treated as separate when conducting campaigns. An effective social media strategy recognises the benefits of a cross platform strategy.



Linkedin is the number one social media app for B2B or business related communications. It is one of the few Western apps that is not blocked in China. According to there are about 856,000 registered users in Hong Kong representing a little more than 16% of Hong Kong Internet users which is about equal to Instagram and double the number of Hong Kong users as of April 2012. Linkedin is showing great potential for reaching a larger audience through their growth plan and changes to the architecture. Linkedin has significantly reshaped the layout of its business pages and made the news feed resemble Twitter or Facebook making it user friendly and easier to engage. Improved analytics for the business page allows for better tracking of post performance, follower demographic data and activity over time. Linkedin has opened offices in Hong Kong with the purpose of growing its user base and seems dedicated to it’s continued growth in Asia. The use of Linkedin for recruitment is gaining significance. In an article by titled “The top 2 reasons Linkedin is taking over the world” one of those reasons was networking for jobs. Connecting candidates with companies or people. Linkedin has made it easier to create a good impression of your brand by providing an expanded platform to better showcase your brand. With improved headers, news feeds and other features such as detailed listing of products and services and analytics. Linkedin has become a full fledged social media site.

CSL has a profile on Linkedin with 2020 followers. PCCW and Smartone have 3644 and 345 respectively.



Linkedin is the defacto B2B portal and most all businesses maintain a professional profile. The growing userbase in Asia and particularly Hong Kong make it increasingly attractive. The importance of brands to maintain a good brand presence on all major social media platforms is important. Linkedin has proven itself to be one of those.


Social media is an ever changing landscape. This is not a surprise as social media applications are a product whose design follows the desires of its customers or Fans. Smart businesses attend to changes in customer needs and adapt accordingly. Demonstrating  initiative in recognising that  customers live diverse lives and have many interests is important. Increasing a Brand’s presence in its customers lives by presenting itself across more popular social media sites and in different ways is key to a good strategy. However, opportunities maybe missed by not fully leveraging all established platforms such as Sina Weibo and Linkedin. Emerging and niche platforms such as Instagram and WeChat also hold potential. The first step in beating competitors is to have a clear and broad strategy.





  2. O2F Funographer KOL Engagement Report Sep 2013




























Facebook get your head out of your ass!

It started some years back when Mark Eliot Zuckerberg visited RenRen in China. At the time RenRen was the star of China’s social media frontier but the business model was insane. They were charging US$65,000 per year for a business to have a page on their site. This was just the page, no additional advertising. When Mark returned to the U.S. Facebook immediately release a whole slew of RenRen like marketing options. . . surprise? Well the lesson from this should be that RenRen soon died or, more precisely, is a brain dead corpse on life support that investors refuse to pull the plug on. Apparently when money is involved some lessons are harder to learn.

And now lesson number 2.

In December 2013  Facebook made a change that literally, not figuratively, destroyed what had made it arguably the most successful communication application in the history of the world. They all but shut down the social graph. What does this mean? Well the social graph is a fancy way of saying “word of mouth” or how you and me share stuff with our friends. Facebook was based entirely on this and it is the reason it spread to 1.3 billion people so fast. Because friends shared with friends. But Facebook last December said “we don’t care what you have to say and nobody else does either. So if you want to be heard you have to PAY! Most of us do not see a big change because it is largely hidden from our view. In the past when a post was made our friends Liked and Commented, but also many others got to see it too, it touched their lives. Under the new rules only the tightest circle gets to see. Let’s put it in context:

I first learned of the devastating Japan 2012 earthquake on Facebook from distant friends. That was when the social graph was in full effect. But now with these new restrictions it is questionable whether I would learn about it on Facebook today. The sphere of influence has shrunk greatly, it is a type of censorship has been put in place unless payment is made.

 So why is Facebook doing this? Basically because they are lazy turds. Advertising is the world’s second oldest profession, but for reasons unknown the greatest minds of the world can not seem to find a replacement. Maybe we need to look at China again as they  learned their lesson when Facebook did not.

The current wave of apps coming up in China are not supported by a traditional advertising model. Instead they offer value added services to Fans at a cost to businesses and through sale of virtual goods. I could go on at length with case studies here, but I think I will save them for another blog.

Much success,



http://www.PRDA.Asia is Asia’s leading social media management agency