Whenever I speak on a panel or talk among peers about social media and its effect on B2B communications there seems to be one question on everyone’s mind: “What’s next?” While it’s always difficult to make predictions — and I try to avoid them — my strong belief and experience tells me that for now it can be summed up in one word: Weibo. In short, Weibo is China’s hybrid combination of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook with more than 300 million users and growing. With activity on the site now surpassing 100 million messages each day it is a resource that B2B companies cannot ignore.
If your business is not planning any growth initiatives in China in the near term or long term then you can stop reading now — this post won’t pertain to you. However, if you or your clients are serious about China as a growth market you should continue reading.
I have long been an advocate that social media needs to reflect the business strategy and integrate with all of your communication efforts. Social media is not a silver bullet and won’t solve or fix any of your business needs, but it can enhance and greatly assist you in your efforts to communicate and engage with your stakeholders. A great resource to help give you a better idea as to what is happening with social media in China is this McKinsey report.
So what’s stopping you from using Weibo? The biggest obstacle seems to be language and translation (I don’t speak Chinese). This should be a low barrier to entry if China represents a key part of your business strategy; more than likely your team already employs some translation service and you should figure out how to use them. Another challenge may be content, but if your goal is to educate the Chinese market on your products and services than you should have all the material you need at your disposal.
If you’re not on Weibo where should you start? First, have a discussion with your employees who do business with Chinese customers. If you can understand their needs, how they are trying to reach customers and the tools they use to communicate with customers you will build a good foundation. You may also discover who at your company already is using Weibo. Second, do your research on Weibo and social networking in Asia. I have a list of resources below and the McKinsey report also is a good start. Finally, join Weibo. You can follow me on Weibo and CME Group as we are excited about the growth opportunities in the region and how social media gives us a business advantage. If you are not yet on Weibo now is a good time to start planning to budget for and integrate it next year, that is, if China is part of your company’s growth plans. You can also follow @ChineseWeibo and @WeiboMarketing on Twitter, as well as @WeiboToday
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