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Lack of Facebook ‘likes’ puts spotlight on Hong Kong innovation bureau’s resource shortage

Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang says staff stretched too thin to put more resources into social media

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2017, 10:05am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2017, 12:21pm

A discussion on the number of “likes” on its Facebook page has put the spotlight on the lack of resources faced by the city’s innovation and technology bureau.

Responding to a question by lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu on whether he was happy that the page had only about 2,300 “likes”, bureau policy secretary Nicholas Yang said on Monday that staff were already stretched to the limit, adding that he did not want his colleagues to “work to death”. According to Yang, two of the bureau’s 30 staff members are in charge of managing social media.

“It is not that I don’t like “likes”, but that has to take a lower priority in the first 16 months. We already put 7 per cent of our resources into Facebook – I think that is enough.”

Questions and answers about Hong Kong’s new innovation and technology bureau

The bureau’s Facebook page was launched about a year ago. In comparison, the Development Bureau’s page has over 7,000 likes, while the Home Affairs Bureau’s page has about 4,000 likes.

Speaking at a Legislative Council Finance Committee special meeting on expenditure estimates for 2017-2018, Kwong questioned whether the bureau had the credibility to promote innovation and technology for the city and the government if its Facebook page, a “strong indicator”, was liked by so few people.

“Our innovation and technology bureau has just over 30 people in all, including drivers. It is not that we don’t want to do better, but we must focus on the most important things,” Yang said. “Our priority is the formation of an innovation ecosystem and the first steps in overall policies.”

“I am not afraid of angry faces, but I am afraid of not having enough resources. It is not good for our colleagues to work to death,” Yang said, referring to the “angry” emoticons used by Facebook users to react to content they dislike.

Lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen said the government should use social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram more, as they required fewer resources, rather than focussing on making more expensive apps.

“I think everybody can give the departments some opportunity to grow in these areas,” he added.