An Introduction to Social Media in Hong Kong


Joshua J. Steimle

If your target market is Hong Kong and social media figures as a critical part of your marketing plan, here’s an introduction to the social landscape in this world city.

Hong Kong not only boasts some of the fastest Internet speeds on the planet, but smartphone penetration in the city also stands at 63 percent. In addition, 96 percent of Hong Kong smartphone users browse the Internet daily via mobile – the highest rate in Asia.

In Hong Kong it is a normal sight to see cyclists riding along a street while texting, or to hear a public service announcement while riding an escalator warning you: “Do not keep your eyes only on your mobile phone.”

Hong Kong businesses are taking advantage of social media as a means of outreach. Here’s a list of the top social networks in Hong Kong based on how companies are using them to develop their communities.


It should come as no surprise that Facebook takes the top spot as the most used social network in Hong Kong. A TNS survey found that 4.4 million people in Hong Kong use Facebook, which is more than 50 percent of the population. Of those surveyed, 44 percent said Facebook was their first point of contact when reading breaking news.

More than 3.1 million people log on to Facebook every day, with users spending an average of 30 minutes on the platform each visit. According to social media statistics provider Socialbakers, the largest demographic of Hong Kong Facebook users runs from ages 25 to 34. This is followed by the 18 to 24 age group, with 55 percent of users female. Zeroing in on specific brands, Socialbakers top five Facebook brands in Hong Kong are BEECRAZY, Group Buyer, Groupon Hong Kong, 7-Eleven, and Samsung Mobile, which are in the e-commerce, retail, and electronics sectors.


While WhatsApp has historically been an advertisement-free platform, Facebook’s acquisition of the chat app may have helped loosen its “no ads, no games, no gimmicks” policy.

While there is no platform to advertise on WhatsApp in Hong Kong, digital advertising agencies are using WhatsApp for business development tactics. For example, some businesses create “ad blast bots,” essentially placing “cold calls” to potential customers. One can imagine this trend won’t last long.

WhatsApp is preferred within the Hong Kong Chinese media circle, especially those who work in public relations. Some PR executives use WhatsApp to send out reminders to reporters before media events in lieu of a reminder via phone.


China’s government has a pattern of using its Great Firewall to block its population from accessing Western social media networks. This has enabled China-born social networks to spring up and dominate in the world’s largest country. Twitter is one of those social networks that is blocked in China, and the homegrown version is Sina Weibo.

Weibo’s success in Hong Kong is partially due to influential celebrities, politicians, and business people who have created accounts on the service. Besides local celebrities such as Tony Leung, international A-listers and tycoons such as Tom Cruise and Bill Gates are also on Weibo.

With its large and influential user base, Weibo is a high priority for Hong Kong brands when it comes to social media marketing in Mainland China.

While it is constantly compared to Twitter, Weibo’s features are far superior in comparison – as brands can promote their events and online stores via video, live broadcast, and celebrity interviews. Businesses with physical stores can also bring offline customers online using Weibo. For example, Hong Kong brandTeelocker ran a Weibo campaign at one of its brick-and-mortar stores where customers were incentivized with a small gift after sharing the store’s posts with five friends.


WeChat, the mobile messaging platform that has taken China by storm, has also scooped up a sizable chunk of users in Hong Kong. According to GlobalWebIndex, Hong Kong user growth between Q1 2013 and Q1 2014 was 31 percent.

With functions running the gamut from text and voice messaging to photo sharing, Tencent-owned WeChat offers a wide variety of offerings, which also includes games, social media integration, and the ability to form groups of up to 500 people.

The platform also allows in-app taxi booking and payment and movie ticket purchases. As WeChat allows for group chat for hundreds of people, brands can engage with its users in real-time. For example, WeChat partnered with NowTV Hong Kong to create group chat channels for FA Cup soccer match fans to interact with each other and the hosts during the game.

There are clearly many opportunities for companies to use WeChat’s functionality as well as explore more involved partnerships in order to engage customers.

Although the above apps are the most popular in Hong Kong at the moment, the landscape is still new and other social networks shouldn’t be ignored. Twitter will open a Hong Kong office in early 2015, and has high penetration amongst the Western expat community. Line has a large and growing userbase in the region. And LinkedIn dominates in the business and career space.

As the trend toward unbundling apps and developing niche communities continues, targeting these smaller audiences with more targeted messages may become the more intelligent strategy for many companies rather than going after the larger, more general market.