Unlocking China

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China – along with Weibo and WeChat – is the future of social media, writes Richard Spencer*, the Sydney-based head of iSentia Two Social (NZ is part of his brief): “With more social media users than the US and Europe combined, China is well on its way to becoming the largest digital economy in the world – so how can NZ businesses capitalise on this using social media,” he asks.

“Let’s start with the example of Bobbie the Bear, the creation of Robert Ravens, a lavender farmer in northeast Tasmania. A cute purple teddy bear filled with lavender that doubles as a hot water bottle, Bobbie first hit the market in 2011.

“Although popular with tourists, he certainly was not in demand in China – Australia’s second largest inbound tourist market.

“Fast forward a few years, and Bobbie became an overnight sensation in China after a well-known Chinese actress with over 13 million followers vouched for his magical abilities to treat aches and pains.

Cue Bobbie-mania
“Today Bobbie is a household name in China. More than 65,000 visitors visited the lavender farm to buy the fluffy toys in the past year; he has his own Facebook Page, Youtube channel and now ABC Commercial is making Bobbie a TV star with his own show targeting the Chinese market.

“In digital advertising terms, the value of a key opinion leader (KOL) being supportive of your product or brand in China cannot be overestimated.

“The numbers speak volumes. The Chinese digital economy alone is worth $US1 trillion. In common with the rest of the world, China’s social media market is confusing, diverse, ever changing and shifting at a speed which most organisations find it difficult to match.

“The Great Firewall of China keeps the western social media behemoths firmly away from Chinese Netizens and so the landscape is less familiar to markets in New Zealand and is dominated by local networks owned and managed by the major Chinese tech players.

“While Weibo is arguably the best known of the Chinese social networks, the biggest of which is Sina Weibo (weibo being the general term for micro blogging), WeChat from Tencent is both the largest and fastest growing of the major social networks.

“Over 468 million people use WeChat every month and penetration rates in all of China’s top tier cities, or those with a population exceeding 10 million people, exceeds 90% in all cases.

“Wondering where to start? There are four key ingredients to unlocking this powerhouse:

  • Understanding China: Know their digital economy and learn how this impacts in Australia & NZ
  • Insight: Find out who is talking about your brand, and consider how to position yourself against local and international competitors
  • Engagement: Target Chinese consumers residing in China and living in Australia. Weibo and We Chat are king!
  • Monitoring: Keep abreast of the conversations happening about your brand within this community

“The digital revolution is just beginning and China is an opportunity that New Zealand businesses cannot ignore.”

*Richard Spencer works for TWO Social, iSentia’s specialist social media agency. The Social Media landscape is changing and developing exponentially, and Spencer advises organisations on how to maximise their opportunities in this exciting channel. He is also a regular media commentator on social media channels. Prior to founding TWO Social, Spencer was senior vice president, global marketing & interactive with TMP Worldwide and has been working in digital communications and the internet since 1996. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA Hons) in Business and a postgraduate Diploma in Marketing (CIM). He is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

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