I’m always curious about how social media channels function in other countries. Recently, I noticed a discussion on LinkedIn about social media in the People’s Republic of China. I posted a question about whether social media channels could be used to recruit attendees to U.S. trade shows. I received a very informative response from Shawn He Yuxun, founder and chairman at MeetChinaBiz.org. He has given me permission to post it here.
“In my opinion, it would be extremely difficult if not entirely impossible to do that.
The social media scene in China at the moment still resembles what things were like when Facebook and MySpace were just created years ago, i.e., mostly a place for the young and those with a lot of free time on their hands to hang out and find dates.
BTW, you can more or less get a sense simply from the names of the top sites listed in Rebecca’s post above: “QQ alumni” is an outgrowth/extension of the original QQ (China’s answer to ICQ), a SMS or text messaging service. (N.B. Q usually stands for ‘cute’ in China. Another example is the beatle-like car model QQ produced by a leading Chinese automaker named Chery. Google “QQ car” with the images option and you will see…)
“Renren” means “everybody”; “Sina Space” is leading Chinese portal site Sina’s answer to “MySpace”; “51” is a word play on one of China’s most vacationed holidays — the May 1st holiday — which until 2 years ago had been dubbed the “Golden Week” because for years it had been a week-long national holiday.
Indigenous Chinese professional SN sites on a par with LinkedIn haven’t been created (or at least haven’t attained the popularity of the ones listed) yet. Perhaps for the lack of an alternative, many Western-minded young professionals and executives in China have in fact started using Linkedln by default. (That is why I decided to add my Chinese name – you may only be able to see three ?’s if your OS was not set up to display Chinese characters — to my title so it is searchable for Chinese speakers / LinkedIn users.)
So in a nutshell, at least in the near-term I believe one’s money would be better spent by focusing on more conventional online and offline approaches in order to generate traffic from China to a trade show in the US. These would include existing industry-specific online or offline platforms and channels (i.e., portals, associations, publications, etc.)
Depending on the size of the marketing budget and the strategic positioning, one could also opt to be more proactive as well, such as setting up operations and/or forming partnership or alliances with players on the ground in China.
Hope this affords you at least a ‘big picture’ of the situation and answers some of your initial questions.”
The Takeaway: Who wants to be the first U.S. show organizer to create a group on LinkedIn (in the Chinese language) exclusively for Chinese buyers and potential exhibitors?
How are you using social media channels to market trade shows to individuals outside the U.S.?