It’s been three years since I’ve been back to China (see all my posts on Asia) to report on the local web scene but am now in Shanghai and have met with a handful of folks that are looking at social business within China. Don’t take this as a proper research report, but just sharing what I heard from speaking to a handful of professionals who are looking at the social web, culture, and business such as Sam Flemming, Bryce Whitwam, and hearing from Nicolas Zurstrassen of Nike present at the Social Media event where I was speaking.
Field Report: Shanghai and China’s Social Web, What I Learned: Caveat: Don’t take this as complete research, it’s just based on what I learned in a short period of time, you should connect with China experts who I listed out below.
China’s online sphere already large and growing –with increased disposable income. The largest internet population in the world, 400mm of the 1.3 billion Chinese citizens are online, nearly one third and growing also with an increase in wealth. Google’s announcement of AdMob indicated they are tracking the top visited websites across the world, and wow, has the landscape changed. See this list of the visited websites around the globe, many of them are Chinese such as Baidu (#8), Tencent QQ (#9), and Sina (#11).
Chinese internet marketing requires a specialized approach. The Chinese online community is vastly different than the West, There are different tools, websites, behaviors, and as a result different takes. I’ve outlined my findings from 3 years ago, if you want to see my previous field notes in this four part series.
Brands and consumers go to Social Networking Sites (SNS) –not create their own. In the west, it’s common for brands to have their own online community that’s branded using a community platform. Yet, from what I heard, it’s more common for brands to join customers where they are in SNS sites like QQ, in order to reach consumers. They will often have to ‘pay to play’ the SNS sites to participate. Secondly, I met with CIC, who paid me to speak at their event, they are a brand monitoring company that focuses specifically on the online discussion in mainland China for brands.
Brands are getting engaged with social marketing: At the conference, Nike presented their case study, in which they’ve reached Chinese young men who are basketball players. They created a community on QQ called “Ballers” that focuses on a lifestyle play that encourages them to connect to each other, organize, and share tips. Also present were L’Oreal, who has had recent success with the China Luxury community. Also, Ford has had early successes promoting their new car Fiesta, by deploying on QQ (SNS) and YouKu. (Like YouTube)
Facebook and Twitter are basically aren’t relevant: Both of these western owned sites are blocked by the firewall (bitly, seesmic and a few others blogs I regularly read), and I was unable to access them from my hotel. I was able to access them via my iPhone using the international data plan, and all Tweets were done by SMS. Those who really care about the social space have VPNs that can leap over the firewall.
Consumer Brand Backlashes Occur Online: Like all markets, consumers are asserting themselves using mobile and online channels. At the Social Media Conference, it was discussed a few times about the HP issues with products and how netizens use the web to share their concerns (see video). Also, a holiday called consumer day, netizens will assert their voices over brands, and get educated on how to protect themselves. Was told that blackberries are still common for the business audience as they are often supplied by the employer, so you’ll need to know your mobile consumer behaviors before building platform specific apps for China.
Recommendations For Brands Entering Social Business in China
Know the Socialgraphics of your market: Understanding the nuances of the individual market is key. In fact, with China being a behemoth of online netizens, a dedicated approach is required. Just as you know the demographics and psyhographics of your online consumers, you’ll need to know how they use the social web, and that’s called socialgraphics.
Your Facebook Strategy Need Not Apply: Don’t expect your North American strategy in social business and marketing to work in China, you need to find experts and hire experts that understand the nuances. You’ll need to know the specific internet memes here, how the discussions evolve, and how folks communicate with each other. Remember, each culture has their own social networking adoption (although Facebook continues to drive global dominance, however I don’t expect that to be the case for China) so you’ll need to rethink your strategy.
Governance and Organizational Model Key for Social Marketing Success. Take a look at your social business organizational model and really ascertain which of the five models is best for your global business, in particular, the Coordinated, Dandelion, may be most effective, and in some cases Organic.
I also was able to enjoy the city, and visit the massive 2010 Expo (bigger than the Beijing Olympics, estimated costs at over 40 billion dollars) and was amazed by the British, Dutch, and many other international pavilions. Shanghai has undergone incredible growth since I was here 10 years ago, and the growing skyline was impressive. I joined the Geeks on a Plane tour for the Shanghai events, including acceding the second tallest building in the world, the Shanghai World Financial Tower. The recently expanded subway was clean and well run, especially compared to the aging NYC subway and SF transit in my own area.
Posting will be light for the next week, (I’ll make a brief stop by Hong Kong’s Web Wednesday) I’m taking my first vacation since I started my business as a partner at the Altimeter Group, 10 months ago. See you soon.
Blogging conferences in the US were popular a few years ago –and have given way to Facebook conferences, and now Twitter or last week’s “Real Time” focus at LeWeb. The Middle East has been evolving quickly in the blogosphere, and this is a real focus for individuals, organizations, institutions, and governments to connect with others, and let their voice to be heard.m Embedded above, you’ll find my presentation, which has international examples of bloggers. It has a section with data (sourced cited) and then I talk about where I see blogging headed into the next era. The purpose of this event is to educate local bloggers on how to most effectively use blogging tools to connect and reach to the outside world, so I’ll give a hand, and try to connect the community right here on this blog.
Arabic Bloggers, Kindly Leave A Comment
In the spirit of community, in this case, global community, at the end of my keynote, I’m suggesting that the attendees leave a comment on this post, to shout out to the world, leave a URL, and a few sentences on what they focus on.
Web Strategy Community, Please Welcome Them
My hope is that these Arabic bloggers will not only connect with each other, but also connect with my readers in the business world. If you’re a regular reader of the Web Strategy blog –please welcome them, surf their blogs, and share about yourself if you’ve similar interests. We recently installed Disqus so we have threaded conversations –making it easier to keep track of multiple discussions. Be sure to return to this post in the future, in order to see how the conversation developers over time.
To me, success for this project is to see at least two people connecting with each other in which they can develop a meaningful relationship for understanding, business, or friendship. Blogs, a simple technology, that can bridge people around the world.
Update: It’s a few hours after the conference, and I’ve had time to reflect, and connect with other bloggers that attended. I’m told this was the first time bloggers were able to get together in Qatar, and some met for the very first time face to face. It was an privilege to be part of this historical event, which was organized and sponsored by ictQatar, ForumOne, and the many bloggers who attended. Really an honor, I hope to return in the coming months, this is one of the highlights in my career, and a milestone for the social web. Also, do see their latest blog, which was launched at the event, both in Arabic and English. The Gulf Times featured the event on the front page (pic).
This slideshow (photo credits here), I found embedded on Sean Percival’s site really shows how China is giving it their all to impress the world. Despite the many criticisms, they’re putting their best foot forward. I was in Beijing a few years ago, and they were starting construction, had banners up, and were very anxious and excited to host the world.
Today is 8/8/8 a good luck date in Chinese culture, a good kick off for the olympics (the ceremony started at 8:08pm), many casinos are marketing like crazy, and thousands of Chinese are off getting married today (over 16,000 in fact). I’m off to Monterey right now, some friends (non-Chinese) are also getting married. Best wishes global family.
BTW, upon closer inspection, docstock appears similar to slideshare, but it’s not limited to just presos.
I stumbled onto this large slide deck of global social media stats called the Universal Mccann International Social Media Research Wave 3. They break down usage of many different types of behaviors from creating to consuming blogs, rss, social networks, online videos, and uploading images. They provide a global viewpoint that you don’t see very often. While I don’t know their methodology to obtain these stats (they say they’ve a base of 17,000 panelists), it’s clear they are seeing growth in participation.
I found this link from future colleague Nate Elliott on his twitter stream, also read this blog. I noticed one small error in the 80+ deck slide, they spelled one blogger as “Michael Harrington” rather than “Arrington”
I interviewed Maria and Aaron Contente, who are both native Spanish speakers from Mexico, educated, and are successful professionals in Silicon Valley. Maria Contente manages many of the relationships with our clients at Forrester in Silicon Valley and Aaron is an engineer at a large industrial company.
After enjoying a home cooked Mexican meal (and a spicy cocktail), I asked them for their honest feedback on Facebook’s recent Spanish release. Watch the video to find out that the new version reads awkward.
I was just at Intel’s Sales and Marketing event on Tuesday, and was really glad to meet Intel’s EMEA Web Strategist (which is what I call decision makers), Taj Peyton. He’s responsible for understanding each of the unique needs of cultures in his European market and developing localized versions of the corporate Intel site –no easy undertaking.
Watch this video and you’ll learn
-Why you should or should not localize
-What you research
-Other than language, how are regionalized sites are different than corporate website
-How to get started
-Management is a nightmare, what tools to use?
I ran out of memory, so the interview got cut short a few seconds, but there’s a lot of meat in his presentation. If you’re planning on localizing you website, be sure to really understand the demographics (who are they), physhographics (how they think/feel), and technographics (how they use technology) before deploying, otherwise you may have just wasted your resources.
And yes, that’s the Wynn in the background, one of Vegas’s newest hotels. Intel put me up at the brand new Venetian extention, the Palazzo, each room is a suite (3 HD flatscreens), it’s opulent. I’m pretty sure I was the first person to every stay in the room as they just opened up last week, why do I think that? I had to plug in a lot of the appliances, I’m sure that’ll never happen again
My colleague Charlene Li recently showed me the Google Translator tools that can do more than babelfish as it can translated an entire webpage, and maintain the look and feel. Enter in a URL, and watch it translated. Here’s a few examples of my post being translated by Google from German to English, Greek to English, Italian to English. Sadly, there is no option to translate Hebrew to English.
A few months ago, I wrote a post about the impacts of social media to the corporate websites, and how it must evolve, it’s been translated by the community to many languages by volunteers. I’d like to thank Jacqueline Fackeldey (who focuses on human to human marketing) for re-translating it to Dutch.
At the bottom of the English post you’ll see links to other translations. If you know someone that has a blog and wants to translate it to Chinese, Japanese, or any of the other languages listed, it’s pretty easy to do: Translated, send me an email and I’ll promote the translation and add the link to the original post.
I was in Vancouver last month at the VidFest conference, I was able to attend a regular meetup with the local social media folks, people I really relate to. Over drinks, they told me about the unique web culture in Canada, in my usual form, I whipped out my camera and was able to get their opinion.
What’s the difference between Canadian and US web cultures? I asked them that too, see related video. I’ve traveled a lot, and it’s amazing to hear how culture, (beyond language) impacts web usage, the web is truly a representation of people and the culture they relate to.
At the recent Boston Bloggers dinner I was able to interview Mark Twomey, his blog Storagezilla, I’ve been keeping track of for a few years since I left HDS. I was surprised to find he was around my age, I expected him to be much older. He came the farthest distance for the event (Ireland) and was able to share with us about “Patty Paddy’s Valley” on how there’s a few web startups that are coming out to Silicon Valley for the next gold rush. Sadly, my camera ran out of memory space, so our interview got a bit cut off. Apparently, I inadvertently outed his true identity by linking to his blog a few years ago and exposing his name, fortunately, it all turned to good, I hope he writes up a post about that experience.
Read Write Web has a list of Irish startups if you want to learn more. Oh, and no, the green lighting wasn’t intentional.