In Fashion And Social Media, What Is Hong Kong’s Position?

Part Of Jing Daily’s Coverage Of Social Media Matters, Hong Kong

Hong Kong singer G.E.M. performs at Social Media Matters 2012

September is a busy month for both the fashion and social media industries. Coinciding with the launch of major fashion weeks around the world, this month Hong Kong played host to several social media events. Personally, I was torn between these two worlds on September 7, a date chosen for the launch of two particularly important events: Social Media Matters and Hong Kong’s first-ever Fashion’s Night Out.

While Fashion’s Night Out (FNO) is a free event, organized jointly by Vogue China (Hong Kong does not have its own edition of Vogue) and Hong Kong-based luxury department store Lane Crawford, Social Media Matters (SMM) is rather expensive to attend (US$600+ per ticket). This makes sense, however, given that the purpose of FNO is to encourage people to shop — to spend money and help the economy (at least that’s the original reason Anna Wintour started it) — while SMM uses the money from ticket sales to fly in influential speakers from all over the world to present at the conference.

The one-day SMM conference indeed boasted many interesting speakers from the West this year, from companies such as Google, Nestle, Ogilvy, Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter, along with some presenters from mainland Chinese SNS like RenRen, Douban, Sina Weibo, Jiepang and Jingdong. The conference featured an impressive mix of presentations, panel discussions, Q&As and even a performance by one of Hong Kong’s Youtube-launched success stories, G.E.M.

For me, G.E.M.’s panel discussion, which also included her manager and a few other Asian TV presenters and artists, was one of the most interesting at SMM. Being one the few attendees who had actually heard of G.E.M., I never knew that she got her big break on Youtube. Interestingly enough, the first video that launched her career wasn’t a music video but one posted four years ago about humorous goldfish expressions, which currently has over 430,000 views. G.E.M.’s official Youtube channel is now more of a personal blog of sorts, featuring lifestyle videos as well as music videos, with some now racking up almost 5 million views.

Social media is key for businesses operating in Asia and around the world

G.E.M.’s success story is impressive enough — as she was the sole representative of local Hong Kong success using social media to launch a career. However, her case is one of many social media success stories from mainland China and/or Asia that can help businesses looking to enter the region get a better understanding of the market. Other examples similar to G.E.M.’s viral success, which might have deserved a closer look at SMM this year, include Mike Sui’s Youku video (which achieved over 6 million views) or Korean Youtube phenomenon PSY’s “Gangnam Style” (currently with over 252 million views).

Whether we’re talking about about fashion or social media, Hong Kong is a place where businesses and people choose to stay to gain access to both Western and Chinese information without a filter (though this is also slowing changing). More brands in Hong Kong are spending huge amounts of money bringing over mainland Chinese media and bloggers, and more businesses are forgoing the middleman. Reflecting the current fork in the road in Hong Kong, businesses in the city are hiring agencies in mainland China that are more familiar with local SNS and have stronger connections and a better understanding of the market.

So, despite all the activity, a bit of a worrying question is emerging: where is Hong Kong heading?

In addition to her work as a social media and PR professional, blogger and brand consultant, Hong Kong-based Elle Lee now hosts the new online program Weibo Today. Check out Elle’s personal site at elleiconlee.com and follow her on Twitter at @ElleIconLee or Sina Weibo at @ElleLeeHK

(Opinions expressed by Jing Daily columnists do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Jing Daily editorial team.)

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Fashion, Industry Sectors, Investment & Real Estate, Market Trends, Marketing & Branding, Social Media, Tech