Recently, Thoughtful China released a new episode about content marketing in China. They sat down with Lincoln Bjorkman, Wunderman’s global chief creative officer, to talk about how to produce content that is targeted, engaging and effective at achieving its objectives. The talk is interesting and you can watch it below.
Click here to view the video from inside China.
What is content marketing and how is it carried out in China? The first question we need to answer is “what is content marketing?” I would define content marketing as: content that is produced by a company with the goal of communicating a non-commercial message through non-advertising channels. Let’s break that down. All content (ads, videos, blogs, brochures, etc.) are designed to communicate, that is marketing’s first job. Marketing is about communicating a message about your brand, product, company, event, etc.
How is content marketing different than advertising? Advertising is usually designed with a product or service specifically highlighted for the purpose of selling that product or service. Content marketing is often times created to inform, entertain, or educate the target audience, not specifically sell something. The goal is to create trust and authority, which will ultimately drive profitable behavior.
What do I mean by communicating a message through non-advertising channels? Most times content marketing is carried out in the form of a blog or email list. Other platforms can be video hosting sites or social media. The message is usually non-commercial in nature and posted for ‘free’. This is not to say that companies do not spend money on advertising to promote their content, but that the content itself is not posted has advertisement.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Content Marketing in China
When I was working for an agency here in China, we did a lot of content marketing and social media marketing for brands looking to enter the Chinese markets. My job was to create compelling content that was usually in the form of stories related to the brands the agency represented.
For example, the agency worked with universities that were interested in attracting Chinese students to study abroad. Instead of running traditional advertising, we would often write stories about students that studied at the university. After we had written an interesting story, we would get it posted on a popular site. These stories would have more impact because the audience was more targeted and interested in the content.
Running a traditional advertisement is difficult to track and often leads to wasted views because the TVC or print ad is less targeted. Posting articles on study abroad websites or education portals or even the university’s blog had a greater impact because it was better targeted.
As you can see content marketing in China is very similar to content marketing anywhere else. The difference is the sites, platforms, and behaviors of the target audience. Content marketing in China, just like the rest of the world, is about better targeting and creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience. This can be done though video like Thoughtful China, a blog like this one, or social media like Burberry’s WeChat.
Here is an interesting podcast talking more about content marketing in China. Cas McCullough from Brilliant Content put together this podcast about content marketing in China titled “How Content Marketing is Done in China.” You can listen below to hear her opinion about content marketing in China:
How will content marketing in China change in the future? Here is a great infographic about the changes we can expect to see throughout 2015. This infographic was found on Wall Blog.
Key insights: 31% of companies in China are planning to reduce traditional advertising budgets and reallocate those funds to content marketing and new media. Companies using WeChat will increase use and the main goal of content marketing in China will be to increase sales and brand awareness.
Currently, content marketing is the sweet heart of the marketing and advertising industry but companies must not get caught up focusing on the wrong metrics and measurements. It is tempting to chase vanity metrics like ‘Page Views or Likes’ and forget that all marketing is about driving profitable customer action.
With millions of articles, videos, infographic, photos, etc. being published each month, it is becoming more important to understand your audience and provide the ‘right’ content at the ‘right’ time in order to drive profitable customer actions. The companies that can understand and implement proper strategies will benefit from content marketing in China, but if you are looking for viral success or quick sales boosts than traditional advertising is still the best option.
Here are a few other infographics and articles you might find interesting:
- How much time do we spend consuming content? [infographic]
- Marketing on WeChat: 7 Things Your Boss Wants To Know
- E-commerce Trends in Asia [infographic]
- China Social Media Impact Report 2015 [Infographic]
- Global opportunities for online retailers – E-commerce Infographic
What are your thoughts on content marketing and how do you think content marketing in China will change? Leave a comment; I love to know what others think.