Digital strategy a must for businesses in China

Internet main broadcast and communication platform for users in China, so marketers need digital strategy to target users, says social media panelists.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

SINGAPORE--The use of social media in China is high as the Internet is one of the main broadcast and communication platforms in the country, according to market watchers.

The panelists at Social Media World Asia 2012 agreed that China was one of the top countries in the region for social media usage. James Miner, senior vice president of digital media at ESPN STAR Sports, noted that digital was the primary platform for broadcast and streaming and media.

The Internet was also the main communication platform for users in the country. "How do you communicate if not through QQ?" Miner added, referring to China's largest instant messaging service provider.

China has also been one step ahead of its western counterparts in monetizing social media. Simon Ashwin, Asia-Pacific head of social media at Mindshare, said: "Monetization wasn't a problem from Day 1" for social networks in China as they profit through virtual currencies.

He explained that China's social media market was grown out of the online games space, which had already been monetizing through sales of virtual goods. In contrast, social networks in the west such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, will focus more on localized digital advertisements as a way to monetize their platform, he said.

Miner added Korea and India as two other Asian countries which had high social media usage. While he noted that the use of traditional media in India was high, social media channels were good for marketers to "talk to those with the purse strings".

Commenting on the social media scene in Indonesia, Ashwin noted that the high Twitter penetration level had been driven by telcos who embedded the app into handsets. However, the penetration of Facebook was "three times less" due to the data cost associated, he said.

In the end, social media penetration would depend on a country's telco's infrastructure which will determine the Internet bandwidth. The availability of bandwidth will determine adoption of technology, Miner said.

However, he added that even if the social media penetration level of a country was low, the number would still be substantial if the country had a big population.

Don't measure too many social CRM metrics
Daniel Lee, Southeast Asia regional digital director Euro RSCG, noted that while there was "no correct answer" to determine social media ROI, having metrics for social CRM can be helpful to check that the company has reached its social media goals.

Companies should keep social CRM metrics simple. "Rather than measure 50 metrics, focus on two to three," he said, adding that the results can be used as a benchmark.

Lee shared highlighted four areas where social CRM applied; the goals companies can set for social media; and the types of metric that can be used.

1. Service and support. Companies can measure if they are successful in providing rapid customer response. In this case, the companies will need to have a record of the average time it takes to respond to support request on social media as well as the percentage of cases that are successfully closed on first contact which is similar to how contact centers measure goals.

Companies can also measure customer advocacy which is when customers become brand advocates. For example, on Facebook, the company can measure the percentage of questions replied by other users or the number of active members in the last 30, 60 or 90 days.

2. Sales. Companies can measure how much sales lead has been generated through social media. Metrics for this area include measuring the average time it takes to respond to sales requests and tracking the number of leads which originated through social media channels.

3. Marketing and brand engagement. Companies can measure the quality of interaction with customers in social media. Metrics for this include positive brand mentions by tracking sentiment score on the company's own Facebook or Twitter page or on external social network pages such as on review Web sites.

Organizations can also measure their brand reach by tracking the number of followers on social networks, its fan base as well as the interaction rates with customers on social media.

4. Product innovation. Feedback from customers on social media can be channeled back to the company for product development. Lee noted that this was more common in open source software development where developers would ask users about features they wanted in the new product.

To measure the quality of input from social media, companies can track product suggestions generated through social media platforms. For example, when using social media to crowdsource designs, companies can measure the number of posts in its product suggestion forum and the number of active members in the past 30, 60 or 90 days.

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