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Social Media in China Essay

Introduction:

According to Webster’s dictionary Social Media are “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content.” The main purpose of social media as a marketing tool is to engage with consumers. Social media allows businesses to engage with consumers in ways that were never possible before. For most companies, creating a social media campaign is not the challenge. The challenge for most companies is their ability to measure effectiveness of their social media efforts. Measuring how a social media campaign translates into profits for a company is no easy feat. But there are some things companies can do to not only make their campaigns successful, but to measure the benefits of this success. The objective of this research paper is to explore how businesses can use social media as a successful marketing tool. Specifically, this paper will address how Chinese businesses can use social media as an effective marking tool. It will also explore the differences between social media in the United States and China. Social Media Platforms in the USA There are several types of social media which are used in the United States.

The most commonly known are those which are considered to be “social networks.” These sites allow for individuals to make their own personal profile and connect with other individuals. Communications on these platforms come as video, messages and pictures. Facebook and MySpace are commonly used to keep in touch with friends and family. LinkedIn is a different type of social network whose primary focus is to connect business professionals with one another. Many businesses use these types of social media to share important information about the company activities with consumers. They can also use these types of tools to entice consumers to purchase products or visit their stores. These types of networks can also be used to target customers or to create a buzz about some new product or promotion going on with a specific company. Pepsi is a great example of how a company used Facebook to increase sales. “Pepsi used social networks, specifically Facebook, to gather customer insights about their DEWmocracy promotions.

Their efforts lead to the creation of various varieties of their Mountain Dew brand.” By allowing the customer to decide what flavors they would like to see created, Pepsi gained great insight about the people who buy their product. Another type of social platform is what is known as a microblog. A microblog is a shorter condensed version of an actual blog. These platforms limited their users to 140 characters as opposed to regular blogs that allow users unlimited amount of characters. They are used for immediate and constant updating when things happen or even when they are happening. The purpose of the microblog is to get small bits of information to your “followers” as quickly as possible. Twitter is the most commonly known and most popular microblog in use today. With Twitter, a user can create their own account and then can elect to “follow” other users on the platform. They can choose to “follow” friends, family and even celebrities. But from a business standpoint, there is more value in Twitter than just tweeting and retweeting.

According to Schmidt, “Twitter can be used as a monitoring tool to get data that marketers need to make decisions. Companies now have ability to monitor what consumers think and feel about their specific product. One tweet from a company has the potential of reaching all 140 million Twitter users” (Schmidt.6). Though the microblog is a newer type of social media platform, Twitter has seen huge success since its birth in 2006. Marketers can capitalize on this platforms’ success by utilizing it in their business’s everyday marketing strategy. Blogs are also considered to be a type of social media, though less popular than the ones previously mentioned. A blog is similar to an online journal or diary but is used by several different people for different reasons. They are not limited in length and can be very informative or just for fun, depending on the author. The entries can also be short or long as well. Schmidt explains that, “the blog has a solid place in social media because of it flexibility and capacity for interactivity.

A blog reaches people in different ways than other mediums do so it is a good idea for companies to use this together with other social media outlets, not instead of them” (Schmidt.4). It is important to note, however, that if a company uses a blog, they must make sure they invest the time and energy to keep the information current and the posting frequent. Social Media in China Social media in China takes on a unique form compared to the rest of the world. Unlike other countries, the use of such social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are banned and blocked in China. “Rather than eliminate social media all together, these restrictions have resulted in a flourishing home-grown, state approved ecosystem in which Chinese-owned properties thrive” (Crampton.1). Social media has become integrated in the lives of Chinese people. Most internet users in Chinese experience the internet solely through social media.

The Chinese platforms created are similar to those platforms used across the world. Like their US counterpart, the Chinese have developed numerous types of social media platforms. While other counties use Facebook, China has developed a platform called Renren. This “social network” has similar features to that of Facebook in which users create their own personal profile and connect with friends and family. This platform is commonly used to keep in touch with such people. This platform attracts college students and users can also upload video and personal information. However, unlike many other countries, China also has several other platforms which attract unique segments of the population. For example, Douban is a social media site that specifically attracts art students. You are likely to find individuals who are passionate about reading , culture and music.

Another type of “social network”, KaixinOO1, is similar to Renren in that it allows users to create profiles. Unlike Renren, this site is utilized mostly by white collared professionals and is used to share more broad information as opposed to personal content. The Chinese have also utilized the microblog through there platform known as Sina Weibo. Again, this platform has similarities to that of Twitter. The interface works just like Twitter. Users elect to follow certain people and in turn other people can follow them. This platform has about 100 million registered users which consist of a board range of China’s internet population. Some of the people who utilize this type of social media include youth, celebrities, business professionals, and media personalities (Nooruddin.2).

But what sets this country’s social media apart is not those platforms that are similar to those of other countries, but those interfaces uniquely utilized in China. An example is the utilization of Chinese bulletin board systems (BBS). These are “online forums where individuals can post questions and engage in discussions on any range of topics. More the 96% of Chinese online users have spent an hour or more a day on BBS sites. These users tend to be between the ages of 20 to 40 years old from various professional backgrounds. More than 80% of BBS users search for product information and of these users about 61.7% ask other BBS users for their opinion before making a purchase themselves”(Geng.6). These systems allow for users to post
anonymously which encourages users to be honest in their reviews of certain products and services. As you can see, different social media platforms in china attract a distinct audience, making it easier for Chinese businesses to target specific consumers.

However, while there are many different social media outlets in China, after having a chance to speak with Chinese natives, it seems that Webio is the most highly used by Chinese citizens. We will explore further how businesses in China use these different platforms to successfully use social media as part of their marketing mix. Social Media Differences between the Two Countries Upon reviewing the different platforms in both countries, one might conclude that there is no difference among those types of social media used in both countries. Though at first glance, this may be the case, there is much more to social media in China than simply the platforms which Chinese internet users utilize. Social media has been so deeply intenerated into the lives of the Chinese. In china, the social media is the internet; there is no real distinction. “Social media platforms and online behaviors vary in important ways from those that may be considered their international equivalents and this difference is not due to censorship,” (Crampton.2).

The variations in usage are driven by language, culture and economical development. The platforms which individuals of different countries focus on can vary widely. This variation can occur not only between countries, but within a single country as well. One way to understand the differences between the uses in China verses The United States is by analyzing the differences among the platforms in both countries. Twitter and Sina Weibo are both microblogs used to have short quick communications with users. The differences between these two platforms are rooted mainly in language. Sina Weibo is the fastest growing microblog in China. Though it is similar to Twitter in that it allows users to post 140 characters, Weibo actually allows its users to post videos and photos. It also allows users to comment on other peoples updates and to add comments when reposting a friends message; all things which twitter currently lacks.

One of the biggest advantages however, which Weibo has over Twitter is the “length of communications expressed via microblogs in Chinese verses English” (Crampton.4). Even though both platforms allow users to express 140 characters worth of information in a single post, those users communicated using Chinese have an upper hand. This is due to the fact that each Chinese character is a word. This allows users, but more importantly, companies which are utilizing this platform to engage with consumers, to share more information. The article, “Social Media in China: The Same, but Different,” shows how Dell utilized this language difference. For a promotion the company was running they posted this update on twitter: “Today’s deal: Get FREE Eco-Lite Sleeve with the purchase of any Dell Outlet Insprion Mini 10,” (Crampton.4). A similar message on a Chinese microblog for the same add read like this: “Dell’s National Day Sale runs from September 11 to October 8th. To celebrate the 60th anniversary with the motherland, Dell home computers is offering 6 cool gifts and deals on 20 computer models.

These exciting offers will run nonstop for 4 weeks. Also, get a free upgrade to color casing and a 512MB independent graphics card, as well as other service upgrades. All offers are on a first com first serve bases” (Crampton.4). As one might notice, a 114 characters limit in Chinese translates into 434 characters in English. This turns microblogging in China into more of a blog-like platform. Though these two platforms are different in structure, as business promotion tools, they are one in the same. Businesses use both Webio and Twitter to create a dialog and to get information about what is going on with their company quickly to their users. According to Nielsen, brand information via social media in both China and the US spread through, “interactions with friends on social media platforms. They believe that their platforms can be used by business to achieve greater success than form traditional advertizing.”

It is clear to businesses that these micro blogs are important not only to help create a dialog between the consumer and the business, but more importantly, these specific platforms are used to obtain higher immediate brand exposure, brand identity and brand awareness among consumers. While the social network site Facebook has become the default social network throughout most of the world, China has been able to establish similar platforms which are tailored to attract specific segments of people. Most of the social networks created in China have developed around the interests of people who belong to certain segments of the Chinese population. As mentioned before, Douban is focused on attracting those individuals who are art students. The website also allows registered users to record information and create content related to film, books, music, and recent events in Chinese cities. Unlike Facebook and Renren, it is opened to both registered and unregistered users.

Not only can users connect according to their interests but the website also provides recommendations about books, music and more to its users. Based on this information, one can conclude that social media in China has been somewhat customized to meet the needs of several different segments of the population as well as to meet the interests of those people. Companies can benefit from these “targeted social networks.” Yet oddly, “many companies have failed to acknowledge the shifts in their marketing strategy. Social media has grown to become the shared commons where Chinese consumers offer opinions, ask for advice and discuss their interests which include brands. Thus, while in the past the internet could have been considered a lost opportunity in China, today, ignoring social media is a business risk” (Crampton.6).

The article entitled, “Social Media: The new Hybrid Element of the Promotion Mix,” examines how the traditional marketing mix has been changed due to the rise of social media. Traditional Promotional Mix Verses New Promotional Mix Traditionally, marketing consists of the four “Ps,” product, price, placement and promotion. The promotional mix focuses on the promotion elements of marketing. Before social media, companies relied heavily on what is known as integrated marketing communications to interact with their consumers. These communications, “attempt to coordinate and control various elements of the promotional mix- advertising, personal selling, public relations, publicity, direct marketing, and sales promotion- to produce a unified consumer-focused message and therefore, achieve various organizational objectives as well” (Mangold and Faulds.1).

Promotions are all about communication because promotions are the way a business makes its products known to both current consumers and potential ones as well. The goal of a promotion is to ensure that customers are aware of the existing products and it is also used to persuade customers that the product is better that the competing products on the market. It is a marketer’s job to remind customers’ why they want to buy their companies products. Traditionally, businesses spoke to their consumers through such mediums as TV ads, billboards and radio. It is also typical for a company to use sales promotions to influence consumers to buy. The rise of social media has flipped these traditional ideas of promotional marketing on its head. Due to the rise of social media, the “strategies for communicating with customers have changed significantly” (Mangold and Faulds.358). Mangold and Faulds suggest in their article, “Social Media: The new Hybrid Element of the Promotion Mix,” that social media plays a hybrid role in the promotional mix.

This is due in part to the fact that social media has changed the way which businesses can communicate with their consumers. Social media not only enables companies to speak directly to their consumers, but it also allows for consumers to communicate with one another on a large front. Companies can use such platforms as Facebook and Renren to communicate with their consumers. The company’s consumers can use these same platforms to give feedback about their experiences with that company’s product or service.“The second role of social media- enabling customers to talk to one another, is in away an extension of the traditional word-of-mouth communication” (Mangold and Faulds.359). What makes this word of mouth exchange unique is that it magnifies the communication. Before social media and with the traditional approach, individual consumers were only able to communicate their experience to a few friends. Consumers now have the ability to express their experiences to hundreds and thousands of people in the matter of a few keystrokes on a social media platform.

This takes the control of what messages are sent to consumers away from the actual business and puts it into the hand of the consumer; it in turn limits the amount of control companies have over the content and dissemination of information (Mangold and Fauld.359). The question for businesses to explore: how can this power of social media be harnessed for the benefit of the organization? The best way to do this is by consistently engaging with the consumers by these platforms. Companies are in control when they are able to create a buzz about a specific product, when they are able to learn from customers and when they are able to successfully target customers. Divol, Edelman and Sarrazin explain how companies can use this control which social media gives them to create successful social marketing campaigns. Divol, Edelman and Sarrazin, authors of the McKinsey Quartly article entitled Demystifying social media believe that in order for businesses to be in control of social media conversations, they must monitor consumer responses, respond to those responses, amplify their responses and make efforts to lead consumers to long term behavioral changes which will continue to keep them coming back to their company.

They describe brand monitoring as “simply knowing and understanding what consumers are saying about the company’s product.” (Divol.4) They believe that even if a company does not engage in direct conversation with consumers on social media platforms, this information obtained by monitoring will allow them to gain insight on what their consumers want. It also provides advanced warning for negative publicity. But monitoring is just the start. Businesses also need to respond to consumers by pinpointing conversations for personal interaction with the consumer. This responding can be positive if it is done to provide customer service or to uncover certain leads or to deal with crisis management.

Next, the authors believe that it is important to amplify their conversations with their consumers. They explain that “amplification involves designing your marketing activities to have an inherently social motivator that spurts broader engagement and sharing. This means that businesses should invite consumers to join into a conversation. They should also have ongoing programs and share new content. It is also important for businesses to provide opportunities for sharing back. Finally, businesses should focus on offering experiences that customers want to share to others” (Divol.6). An example of this amplification comes from Starbucks.

“Starbucks wanted to increase awareness of its brand. To do this, the company launched a campaign which challenged their users to be the first to tweet a picture for one of the new advertising posters which the company had placed in six major cities providing the winners with $20 gift cards. This got millions of fans speaking about Starbucks and their current promotion. By giving consumers a reason to speak about a company’s brand, they are able to quickly and effortlessly create customer brand awareness and therefore, save millions of dollars in advertising” (Divol.7). Finally, the authors believe it is important to lead consumers along long term behavioral exchanges which will keep them coming back for more. Companies can influence behavioral changes by creating a buzz, asking for feedback from customers and creating promotions which actively involves consumers. In order to have successful marketing campaigns in the 21st century, mangers need to change their thinking and attitudes toward these new additions to the marketing mix.

They need to realize, accept and understand that a large amount of information about their products and services are being talked about via social media outlets. They also need to understand that the communications occurring on these platforms are directly impacting all aspects of consumer behavior. Managers should be aware that “consumers are reducing their reliance on advertising and traditional elements of the promotional mix as a source of information to help make their purchasing decision,” (Mangold and Faulds.361). In order for marketing managers to drive a successful social media campaign, these managers need to learn to communicate with their consumers on the medium and not to speak at them as illustrated by the examples above.

How can Social Media be used to Benefit Businesses?

Though the social media platforms used in China and the US differ, the basic benefits of social media to businesses are the same. The main goal of social media in marketing campaigns is customer engagement. Just like with traditional marketing, social media can be utilized for customer engagement. As mentioned previously, social media allows the consumer to communicate on a massive scale to one another on their experiences with particular products. In order for a business to benefit from this, marketing managers need to focus their efforts on shaping the conversation. The following paragraphs explain ways in which businesses can take control of social media conversations. Consumers prefer to communicate with likeminded people. One way that organizations can control this is by providing platforms, which allow likeminded people to network. Organizations can create online communities which consumers with the same interests and values can come together to communicate about similar interests.

These “networking opportunities do not have to take form in social media platforms to be effective. For example, movie premiers bring together die-hard fans who like to attend midnight showings so they can be the “first to know” about the movie. Similarly, Apple has effectively been able to drive iPhone fanatics together who wait in long lines to be the first to purchase the new product. Creating excitement through events and through online forums will benefit the organizations. As the authors state, “ the experience of participating with likeminded individuals in highly anticipated events becomes memorable and is likely to e talked about for years to come” (Mangold and Faulds.361). This is the type of positive conversations organizations can benefit from. Consumers also feel most engaged when they are able to give feedback.

This way they feel like they are being heard. Organizations can also use contests and free give a ways in order to engage with their consumers. However, it is important to remember that organizations want to have meaningful conversations with their consumers. If all their consumers are talking about is getting free stuff from them and not about the products and services that these organizations may offer, then that means that companies are not using social media effectively. A way in which organizations can effectively use contests for engagement is by having contests in which consumers are actively involved in promoting a certain product. “Enabling consumers to see others using the product can entertain and engage consumers while communicating product benefits” (Mangold and Faulds.362). Other ways in which organizations can utilize communication to consumers via social media is by providing information to consumers.

Using social media platforms to introduce new products or to provide answers to questions are a few ways in which companies can insure that their consumers are being informed. Some companies have established special websites that allows consumers to connect to one another and gather more information about specific products or services which they are interested. For example, Procter and Gamble created portion of their website called “Ask Julia.” This section of the website provides detailed information on many subjects related to the products which P&G provide to their consumers. The more informed you are, the more you will communicate it to others. At times, it is important for businesses to think outside of the box with their campaign. A way they can do this and attract attention to them is by doing something outrageous to get their consumers talking. For example, Burger King played a joke on it customers by telling them that the Whopper would no longer be sold. They then recorded their customer’s reactions to the news which they posted online for consumers enjoyment.

These reactions got Burger King’s consumers talking. Sometimes it is important for businesses to have a little fun with their marketing techniques as Burger King did in this example. Consumers also enjoy exclusivity. People generally like to feel special. Businesses have the ability to control this type of special feelings. Feeling special can occur if businesses offer products, information and special deals which are only available to a specific subset of customers. These positive feelings will most likely translate into positive talk among consumers. Some other ways in which companies can get their consumers talking is by make people want to talk about them. When Apple launched their first iPhone, it changed the way people looked at phones forever. Companies should design products with talking points in mind. If companies provide exclusive offers to their consumers, it will also get them talking as well. It makes the consumer feel important to the company and thus should lead to positive talks from consumers.

Finally, companies can support causes that are important to consumers and utilize the power of stories to create meaningful conversations. By doing so, they can connect with those consumers which may be emotionally linked to a specific causes. Due to this linkage, these consumers may be more likely to purchase a company’s product. How can companies measure the effectiveness of social media? After doing a lot of research, I have found that both American and Chinese companies use the same or similar metrics to track their social media success. Since social media is fairly new in the marketing realm, most companies have struggled translating the effectiveness of their social media into actual numbers in term of return on investment for their companies. But companies can do themselves a favor by tracking specific metrics which can tell them how successful their campaigns are in terms of reach.

In terms of social media, reach is defined as the number of people who see the conversations which occur between a specific business and other consumers or social media users in general. As stated before, the purpose of social media is to hold conversations with potential new customers on these platforms; it is all about engagement. In terms of conversation, it is important for a company to measure the number of conversations they have with their “fans” or “followers,” the speed of the responses they are getting from their fans or followers and the company’s ability to hold a single conversation. It is important to see what your fans are talking about.

The conversations must be of quality and less so about what someone is getting from the company i.e. “free stuff.” But while social media thrives on conversation, the metrics that can be used to see the effectiveness of a social media campaign stretches much wider. The following lists some of the metrics that a company should look for in order to determine whether their social media campaign is really having an impact on their company: * Social Connections and Page Views: How much exposure is your site getting on social media platforms? It is important for any company to keep track of the number of followers they are obtaining through their social media platforms

* Quality of Followers/Fans: According to “Thoughtful China,” it is important that companies realize that it is not just about the number of followers or fans that the company’s page has but also the number of followers or fans which each individual person who is following the company’s site has. This will drive the reach and the impact which the company is having over the whole social media platform. (Thoughtful China Video).

* Engagement Rate: “A good social media marketer needs to know when he or she posts something that creates a reaction or follower engagement,” (Gold.1). It is important to keep track of positive and negative feedback gained from certain posts. It is also important for a company to keep track of what is known as the “retweet rate.” This is in essence is keeping track of the number of times you are retweeted every time you post a single tweet. This flows into the next metrics, reach.

* The Reach of your Social Media Campaign: This includes a number of things. One of the main things to look for is your company’s “share of voice.” This simply refers to the number of people on social media which is talking about your company in comparison to your competitors. It is important for a company to think about reach in this manner; “Am I doing better than last week or last month and what did I do to improve or hurt my performance or reach?” (Gold.1).

The more effort companies put into their social media campaigns, the higher the return. Studies show that if a company can convert “7% of fans or followers into customers this will translate into 40% of sales” (Thoughtful China Video). Since there are extremely high volumes of people using social media platforms, it is hard to say exactly how many people you engage with turn into buyers of your product. But since social media can be used all along the value chain, it is important for businesses to look at the ROI of social media in terms of its overall business impact, not just its impact on sales. Without impact measurements, it is extremely difficult for companies to justify investments in social media and to compare social media marketing with other marketing mediums.

Key performance indicators are vital in making the case for social media. According to McKinsey & Company, a comprehensive measurement rationale should consist of three levels of KPIs. Level one should consist of a basic KPI system that measures engagement and consumers feelings of the companies’ social media efforts on all different platforms. Metrics such as the ones mentioned above can be used to stratify this level measurement. The company also suggests that level two should consist of business case logic. McKinsey & Company recommends that “companies should create business cases to assess the value of specific activates, like campaigns, or decisions, like platform choices” (McKinsey & Company Buzz into Gold). An example could be tracking the value of a Facebook fan.

A company should create a calculation that recognizes the average number of contacts created through one Facebook fan. The third and final level consists of gross rating points which will allow companies to make social media comparable across all platforms. McKinsey& Company notes that “for traditional marketing, gross rating points (GRPs) measures advertising intensity of a campaign as a whole. This traditional rating can also be used as a metrics which is used specifically for social media. This measure would be based on the number and reach of the companies posting through multiple social media platforms and would be calculated as the number of people reached multiplied by the number of times these people are reached per day or week (which ever the company prefers).

Based on the information above, it is clear that there are many ways in which companies can measure effectiveness of their social media campaigns. The question that needs to be answered now is are American and Chinese companies successfully measuring these metrics? The answer: some companies recognize the importance of these metrics more than others and are doing a better job of tracking this information than others. Here are just a few examples of Chinese and American companies who have used social media as a marketing tool successfully.

AJ Bombers: An American Company who experienced social media success AJ Bombers is a burger joint located in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Joe Sorge, the owner of the restaurant changed the way he promoted his company and turned it strictly into social media marketing. He believes that successful social media marketing starts with a great product, something he believed his restaurant had; the best burger in town. Sorge decided to get rid of all forms of traditional marketing that he had previously used to promote his restaurant. Before making the switch to strictly social media, he relied on only using email marketing as a method of marketing his restaurants. Sorge started experimenting with Twitter. He first searched to see what people were saying about his restaurant and he eventually decided to create an account himself so that he could respond to what his customers where saying about his restaurant.

By doing this, he was able to create meaningful relationships with his customers and began to see positive reactions from his customers whom he had communicated with via Twitter. The power of social media became evident when Sorge realized that his account had the ability to reach hundreds and thousands of people through his Twitter account. Even if he did not directly engage with some of his customers, they were able to see the conversations going on, and if they liked something they heard or saw, they were able to retweet it to friends and family. The restaurant was previously known for its events. When Sorge realized the benefits of social media, he quickly used this to help promote the events which occurred at his restaurants. He used social media platforms to drive sales for AJ Bombers. One example of an event that Sorge put on was the, “I’m on a boat badge party.” He partnered with foursquare to create a check in point for his restaurant.

Then he used Twitter and Facebook to promote the event. This event allowed customers to earn an “I’m on a boat badge.” He also partnered with a local outdoors store to obtain boats which customers so that customers could earn their badge by taking part in challenges after checking in. During the event, more than 231 people checked in to the foursquare events page. The event resulted in the single best day of sales that the restaurant has ever seen and the employees had to turn away customers because they did not have enough room to accommodate everyone who showed up.

Sorge believed that the word of mouth buzz created by this event through various social platforms and the speed at which the information traveled is what lead for this event to be one of the most successful events he has ever created. This example shows the how constant engagement with customers on social media platforms can be effective in attracting consumers to certain businesses. It also shows how fast communication happens via social media and how many people these conversations can potentially reach. This type of success is possible for all kinds of businesses if they know how to effectively engage with customers.

IKEA China: Building a Loyal Following through Online Customer Engagement (Source: The China Observer)

IKEA Group is the world’s largest furniture retail with over 280 stores in 26 countries. In 1998, IKEA chose Shanghai to penetrate the Chinese market. IKEA presently runs ten stores in nine cities in China and has achieved total sales of $755 million dollars with over 31 million customers visiting its stores in 2011. Since IKEA used a relatively conservative approach to opening new stores in China, IKEA location were limited, making it harder to reach the young generation of white collar consumers across China. The company found it challenging to build a distinctive brand and to influence Chinese consumers to purchase products since most people treated the IEKA stores as a place for entertainment and not to make purchases for new furniture. In October of 2010, IKEA decided to expand their emphasis on social media.

The company started to organize events both real-world and virtual events to engage potential customers both online and offline. IKEA created its own profile on Douban, a Chinese social media platform which allows users to recommend, comment on and compare their favorite books, films and music. The company created a page which listed tips on decorating homes with IKEA products. In September 2011, the company launched on its page called “the dream home in films.” They encouraged users to upload screenshots of their favorite home furnishing styles from famous films and write a description of the scenes with each “episode” containing a different theme, focusing on different types of rooms in a virtual home. Participants could win gifts sponsored by IKEA.

IKEA attracted a widespread and achieve engagement among Douban users; they are considered to be well-educated and creative urban Chinese. The online and offline event provided customers and potential customers with a way of expressing themselves which translated into a positive impression of the IKEA brand. IKEA’s profile page on Douban, increased to just over 30 thousand followers and 210 thousand visitors. IKEA was able to increase its sales by 20% in the 2012 fiscal year by investing in its brand in China through social media. Conclusion Businesses all over the world have switched gears and included social media as a part of their marketing efforts.

With the ever evolving ways of the internet, it is important for businesses to realize how to use web platforms such as social media to help increase their bottom line. In order for companies to make sure they run a successful social media campaign, marketers need to educate themselves on the different ways to engage with their consumer on social media, and how to track these conversations in terms of ROI. Proper utilization of social media can lead to increased brand awareness, brand image but most importantly, the proper use of social media as a marketing tool can lead to increased sales.

Works Cited
Bodnar, Kipp. Generating Small Business Customers with Social Media.Hubspot.com. Web. Crampton, Thomas. “Social Media in China: The Same but Different.” China Business Review. ProQuest, 11 Jan. 2011. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. Divol, Roxane, David Eldmen, and Hugo Sarrzin. “Demystifying Social Media.” Demystifying Social Media. McKinsey&Company, Apr. 2012. Web. 20 Jan. 2013. “Dove: Encouraging Female Consumers to Share Their Beauty Stories.” The China Observer. N.p., 31 May 2012. Web. 20 Jan. 2013. “IKEA China: Build a Loyal Following Through Customer Engagement Online.” The China Observer. N.p., 22 Mar. 2012. Web. 20 Jan. 2013. Kuo, Kaiser. “Blogs, Bulletin Boards and Business.” China Business Review. ProQuest, Jan. 2009. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. Lipsman, Andrew, Graham Mudd, and Mike Rich. “Power of “Like”: How Brands Rewach (and Influence) Fans Through Social-Media Marketing.” Journal of Advertising and Research 52.1 (2012): 1-24. Web. Mangold, Glynn, and David Faulds. “Social Media: The New Hybrid Element of the Promotion Mix.” Harvard Business Review (n.d.): 1-9. Web. Nooruddin, Zaheer. “7 Steps to Weibo Success.” China Buisness Review. ProQuest, July 2012. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. Schmidt, Stacey, and David Ralph. “Social Media: More Available Marketing Tools.” The Business Review. ProQuest, Dec. 2011. Web. 20 Jan. 2013. “Turning Buzz into Gold.” McKinsey&Company. McKinsey&Company, n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2013. Gold, Harry. “14 Social Media ROI Metrics You Can Use Right Now!” ClickZ. Click Z Marketing and News, 21 May 2012. Web. 21 Oct. 2012.
<http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2178428/14-social-media-roi-metrics>. “Social Media Metrics.” Thoughtful Media Group. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. <http://www.thoughtfulchina.com/en/social-media-metrics-en.html>.


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