Businesses should ensure they have robust long-term investment strategies for Chinese social media channels if they wish to be successful, according to UMS General Manager Jessica Miao.
Miao was speaking on a panel at the South Island Lantern Business Forum in Christchurch, New Zealand, addressing the role social media can play in commercial marketing and the “must have” criteria for businesses entering the China market.
Miao said Weibo and WeChat remain the largest social media platforms in China and subsequently are the most appealing to companies and brands looking to market to consumers.
However, she warned, before brands jump onto these mature platforms it is important that companies develop long-term strategies and define clear objectives.
Miao suggested a shortcut for companies looking to enter the China market was to collaborate with and leverage New Zealand organisations such as New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) and Education New Zealand (ENZ), which have built strong social media profiles in China.
“Businesses can leverage NZTE, TNZ, and ENZ’s social media platforms and gain access to their large social media fan bases. Businesses could sponsor samples to these platforms and run social media campaigns. This provides a win-win communication strategy for all involved,” said Miao.
Miao also stressed the importance of working with local Chinese agencies rather than hiring a Chinese-speaking individual to manage your social media.
“If your business has the budget to hire an agency, go for a local one that is based in mainland China. This way you will ensure your agency has a strong understanding of the market and the various challenges and opportunities. This is a much more effective solution than hiring somebody who speaks Chinese but has no knowledge of marketing,” said Miao.
Miao was joined on the panel by John O’Loghlen, director of business development for Alibaba Group Australia and New Zealand, Lennie Law, Marketing Manager of Aotea New Zealand, Edward Smith, Business Graduate – Shopper Marketing at Fonterra and panel facilitator Paul O’Brien, China Export Consultant and former CEO of Douglas Pharmaceutical.
Alibaba’s John O’Loghlen talked about how the ecommerce giant was helping New Zealand companies compete on a global stage, highlighting Ecostore’s success on Tmall Global. Read more about how UMS helped Ecostore achieve record sales.
Miao was invited to speak at the event by Christchurch City Council and Christchurch Chamber of Commerce. The Lantern Business Festival is an event to celebrate Christchurch’s growing relationship with China.
The event builds on the strong relationship between New Zealand and China, which has grown in strength since the China-NZ’s first Free Trade Agreement in 2008, with NZ and China Trade volume reaching $9.2billion.