Meet our Head of Social & Digital, Martin Hong

What’s your backstory?

I’m a behavioural psychologist, Ad Man and out-of-work actor who somehow lucked out and found himself in an industry and role that has enabled me to fuse all of my interests into a career.

Describe your role at Magnum & Co in one sentence.

I connect brands with customers in the digital world and help foster a lasting relationship that mutually benefits both parties. Now if THAT doesn’t get me laid at parties…

What drives you to work in the social and digital space?

I love the agility in the digital space. With near real-time data and comparatively low cost of asset production, you can afford to test multiple versions of things, or be a little more daring with your creative or formats and not risk huge sums of investment.

And in a similar vein, Social allows you to not just paint your audience with a broad brush, but get specific and be targeted in your messaging. For example, why new mums love BIG W is very different to why a first year uni student likes to shop there. With digital, you’ve got the insight and the ability to help you talk to them very differently, so you’re more likely to be of value to them and actually drive action cost-effectively.

How is the industry changing?

Obviously I love data, and the thing that still makes digital such an important part of the marketing mix is that ability to measure and track every minute interaction in the digital journey. However, marketing has and will always be part art and part science. In the last few years, I think we have over-indexed on the science, and we’re seeing a shift back towards the art of marketing.

In the past few years, marketers have obsessed over the behavioural metrics – the data science behind digital. The individual CPC, CPM, CTR metrics which are action-based and set KPIs at this granular level. But the smart brands today are looking at the wider, behavioural science behind the data: what is the pattern of behaviour – outside of t just a single metric or a single silo/channel of say Facebook or Instagram are we trying to influence?

We’re talking culture change here, which is a lot harder to measure, but infinitely more interesting and valuable to brands.

What do you think the social/digital landscape will look like in 5 years?

With social, the only thing you know for certain is that you’ll never know anything for certain. But that said, it’s always fun to dream.

I believe our digital lives are going to become more closed and niche. In the wake of things like Cambridge Analytica and Alexa laughing maniacally for no apparent reason, users are more conscious and protective of their privacy than ever. Couple that with more people being online than ever (last estimate was 4.4 billion users), better connectivity with the stepchange to 5G, and more products and services catering to all tastes and niches (2019 projections are that $3.45 trillion in sales will be made through e-commerce), the world-wide web will no longer be one open market, but a collection of co-existing subcultures.

While social commentators are screaming the danger of echo-chambers, the optimist in me wants to say that this means platforms like Facebook and Instagram will allow us to go back to the root of why social exploded in the first place: to keep you connected to the people, issues, interests and, yes, brands that you love. For marketers to succeed, empathy and utility will be key, and social will go back to helping you find your tribe and build that connection around your passions, irrespective of geographical location.

Or Sophia will finally have her way and this whole question will be moot.

The best career advice you’ve ever received?

Never be the smartest person in the room. You could actually be the smartest person in the room, but the moment you believe it, you’ll stop listening and stop being open to the real world vs your perception of it. That’s when you’ll stop learning and stop innovating.

Being a good leader doesn’t mean you have all the answers, just the brains to recognise the right one when you hear it. Yup, that advice is from Disney’s Newsies. Musicals can be more than just show-stopping time steps.

Emoji that best describes your approach to work?

🖼️ Always think of the bigger picture – have a larger goal in mind when assembling your marketing mix. Without social/digital, your marketing mix is incomplete and consumers will notice a huge gap, yet getting it right is only part of the puzzle.

Favourite social media platform?

I’m very flavour-of-the-month (remember peach?). Right now, I’m loving TikTok and am moments away from deleting it because I was up till 2am on Saturday in a TikTok binge. Maybe after just one more Microwave Challenge video…