What Are You Doing About China? Six Steps to Take Now

Hello China
Hello China

RenRen. Weibo. QZone. Baidu. YouKu. If these names are not familiar to you then you have some homework to do.

Chinese Internet companies  continue to make news as they seek to grow via IPOs. If that’s not enough (and it probably isn’t by itself), read what Mary Meeker has to say about China’s Internet growth. B2B companies thinking globally need to start really elevating their presence in China, and social media can be an extremely effective way to do this.

What’s driving this growth in China? Cicero has just published a new report that is worth reading and here are two highlights to understand:

  • The improvements in Internet infrastructure have developed rapidly, making it easier and better for people to connect around the clock to mobile devices.
  • Local social media platforms have truly benefited from the blocking of social media platforms from the West, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

I’ve written before about the importance of looking more closely at Asia, and the continued growth means Chinese social networks no longer should be ignored by you. So what can you do? Here are six steps to take:

  1. Do your research. From Mary Meeker’s latest report to Cicero’s research there is an abundance of information to review and learn. 
  2. Talk internally. What are your business objectives in China? What is your firm’s five to 10 year business plan? What resources do you have? As with any communication plan, you need to understand the business reasons before choosing what tools to use. We have been using Hootsuite now for our Weibo stream and it helps us get a better look at what is working.
  3. Have a plan. How are you going to use these platforms in China? Are you there to educate? Create awareness? Build thought leadership? My suggestion to you is to think about an editorial plan and calendar well in advance of launching and talk about it internally with your China team.
  4. Seek outside advice. There are a number of agencies and consultants for you to connect and network with and you do not want to get this part of your social strategy wrong. This is a strategic investment and you need to make sure you have the right plan in place and understand what you need.
  5. Think mobile. Mobile, mobile, mobile. Got it?
  6. Measure and benchmark. Just like you do now with your social tools find out what is working and what is not. Cut your losses on the things that don’t work and fine tune the ones that do. These tools look similar to the social tools you have now, but don’t be fooled by that since the user base in China (and other parts of Asia) use them differently.

China business opportunities can be enormous and your digital efforts need to be an investment in time and resources. Global B2B firms that are not looking seriously at China need to change that thinking now. What are you thoughts? Let us know what you are doing that works or what you want to know in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post you may also want to read the following:

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Where is your B2B blog?

Can B2B brands inspire?

Craft work — what’s your B2B expertise?

Who are your content superheroes?

Is Motivation the Key to Success?

Do most online communities fail?

For the Future of B2B Social Media Look East

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.

Do you Weibo?
Do you Weibo?

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


If you enjoyed this you may also want to read:

Around the world in social media

What drives your b2b strategy?

B2B Social Media: A View from Asia

Still pitching to use social media?