Business leaders try social media, with mixed results

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Business leaders try social media, with mixed results

Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin on Emart Live YouTube channel in January, where he cooked a dish using cabbage. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin on Emart Live YouTube channel in January, where he cooked a dish using cabbage. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

 

Last week, Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin appeared on the Clubhouse app to talk about the baseball club Emart is acquiring.  
 
Chung, an active social media user, told baseball fans that SK Wyerns’ new title and emblem will be announced by next month, adding that Starbucks and No Brand stores will open at the club’s baseball stadium.
 
Chung told baseball fans that it’s ok to call him a “brother,” and made a promise that “I will pitch a ball when the club wins 10 successive victories.” He even asked the listeners to follow his Instagram account, where he currently has 556,000 followers.
 
Chung, 52, is one of the several business leaders that are using social media as a means to communicate with the company’s potential customers.  
 
Others that have recently jumped into the social media world include Miraae Asset Financial Group Chairman Park Hyeon-joo, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and Ottogi Chairman Ham Young-joon.  
 
Park and Chey appeared through the YouTube channels of their companies, while Ham made an appearance through a YouTube channel run by his daughter, Ham Yon-ji, an actress.  
 
“People have lost faith in unilateral communication, like through press releases, because they lack sincerity” said Park Ki-soo, professor of Hanyang University’s culture contents department. “Communicating via social media, where business leaders can personally show daily routines is much more effective than advertisements because it gives a sense of feeling that the leaders are directly communicating with them like their friends or acquaintances.”
 
The global adoption of environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies has also prompted the appearance of business leaders on social media platforms.
 
Park said the motive may be to show a friendlier image out of concern for the governance factor of the ESG, as chaebol in Korea tend to control a company with small shareholdings.
 
Regardless of the motive, Chung’s speech made via Clubhouse generated positive reviews. On an online community website dedicated to baseball, commenters wrote, “Brother Yongjin is humorous. I like it.”
 
This wasn’t the first time Chung generated rave reviews with his friendly attitude and jokes. People were taken aback when he shared a link of a jeans brand he was wearing to one of his Instagram followers who asked for the brand name. Sharing pictures of his family, Emart stores and products have also raised familiarity towards Chung as well as the company brand.  
 
Park Hyeon-joo, Chairman of Mirae Asset Financial Group, second from left, appear on the group’s YouTube channel, where he talked about investment in January. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Park Hyeon-joo, Chairman of Mirae Asset Financial Group, second from left, appear on the group’s YouTube channel, where he talked about investment in January. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

 
Another frequent user of social media is Park from Miraae Asset Financial Group.  
 
Park started appearing on the brokerage company’s YouTube channel in January to talk about various topics, including how to financially prepare for the future, financial products, his prospects on promising industries, like rechargeable batteries, and real estate.  
 
He also unveiled personal values and stressed the importance of staying healthy.  
 
Park’s appearance rapidly raised the number of subscribers to the company’s channel, especially since it was the first time in five years he made a public appearance after Mirae Asset Securities merged with Daewoo Securities in 2016.  
 
The channel now has 653,000 subscribers, around five times the 131,000 subscribers it had in mid-January when he appeared in the first video.
Though seemingly less friendly than Chung, people were eager to learn Park’s thoughts on investment and his insights.
 
“Chairman, it’s great to see you communicating with the public this way. Though you may make mistakes, your attempt is beautiful,” wrote one commenter to a video, where Park talks about Korea’s real estate market. Another commenter wrote, “Brother Hyeon-joo, thank you for your precious words. I will take actions based on your advice.”
 
SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, who cooked dishes for the group employees, in a video released on SK YouTube channel in December. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, who cooked dishes for the group employees, in a video released on SK YouTube channel in December. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

 
But not every business leader was successful in their attempt to communicate with potential customers.  
 
Chey’s appearance in SK Group’s YouTube channel, where he cooked dishes for employees and talked about life like how to raise children, generated positive reviews from many commenters for his attempt. But some were quite critical, saying he acted like a chairman even outside the company.  
 
“Communications skills and sincerity are highly valued on social media platforms,” said Seo Yong-gu, who teaches business at Sookmyung Women’s University. “Those who fail to show the values cannot gain public interest.”  
 
Park from Hanyang University added, “Though some leaders may not have made a successful use of social media platforms, their attempt reflects that the company has an open and young organizational culture.”
 
BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]
 
 
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