“One person tells ten, ten tell a hundred.” Spread far and gain rapid popularity.
In China, building a strong reputation for your brand is so important.
If consumers don’t know much about your products or your company, they’ll turn to others’ opinions before deciding whether or not to buy from you.
Chinese shoppers are anxious not to “lose face”, and so they reason that the more people they know who use the product, the less likely it’ll be to fall apart, break, or embarrass them.
Unlike in the West, where word of mouth marketing usually comes from friends and family, China is an incredibly digitalised society, and as people are always connected to the internet, they turn to the opinions of strangers, influencers, and reviewers before buying products.
Whether you’re targeting shoppers via WeChat, e-commerce or in-store, developing an effective online-to-offline strategy is the key to building your brand and generating sales.
To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together eight ways you can build your e-reputation…
Engaging a community
Though it’s likely going to be impossible for you to read and respond to every comment and review, community management is the key to building a loyal, engaged audience.
Use engagement tools and respond to questions, comments, and concerns, thanking customers for their positive feedback and trying to put things right when people aren’t happy.
You could even build a community away from your brand; if you sell anti-ageing cream, for example, you could start a Weibo page or group about looking younger for longer, sharing tips and tricks on looking after your skin, and occasionally recommending your products.
Building buzz and excitement around your brand is one of the easiest ways to enhance your reputation and get more eyeballs on your products. There’s no guarantee your video or meme is going to “go viral,” but with a paid advertising budget and an effective strategy, you can reach the right audience and create awareness and improved visibility for your brand.
Thinking outside of the box and working with a Chinese marketing firm that understands your audience and brand voice is critical. They’ll be able to identify opportunities where you can create highly-engaging, original content, and piggyback off of trends to increase your reach.
Popular Chinese social networking sites including Weibo and WeChat offer banner advertising opportunities, allowing you to put your logo across potential customers’ newsfeeds and build your reputation. The key here is to focus on creating an instantly-recognisable brand; choose the right colours, fonts, and give your business a Chinese-language name for memorability.
Once you’ve done that, take advantage of campaign remarketing tools to effectively “follow” your potential customers across the web. If a consumer has visited your profile or website, remind them about your products and your brand until they decide to take a second look.
If they see regular banner advertisements featuring reviews, testimonials, and case studies, they will be more likely to purchase your products and then recommend them to others.
Another way to build your reputation is to depend on influencers and key opinion leaders, who often have thousands of followers and a strong relationship with their audience. Trust is so important; if an influencer recommends your product, they’re telling their followers that you can be trusted and that your brand is reputable and offers quality, valuable merchandise.
However, don’t just hand out your products to any influencer. Monitor their followers and engagement levels and consider micro-influencers who may have fewer followers than the big guns, but have higher engagement levels and will offer you a better return on investment.
Another way to build and maintain your reputation in China is to invest in a strong public relations strategy. Just as you would when promoting your brand in the West, sending out regular press releases to journalists and news organisations can help you secure free coverage in newspapers, magazines, and websites and spread the word about your brand.
Then, when consumers research into your business and see you’ve been featured in some of China’s most prestigious news outlets, they’ll be more likely to buy from your e-commerce store, confident that your products and services come highly-recommended from journalists.
Search for your brand name on Baidu, and the entire first page should be complimentary of your brand. Your company website should show up first, and then news articles, social media pages, and videos and reviews should follow. But that’s not always the case. If a negative review or article appears on the first page of the search results, you can use SEO to push those down from rank one and replace them with more positive, on-brand content.
Whether you’re just entering into the Chinese market or you’ve been selling your products through resellers for years, monitoring your reputation is critical. Pay close attention to blogs, news sites, social media, specialist forums and review sites Baidu Tieba, Yoka, and Kimiss.
Know when to respond and when to let things slide. A disgruntled blogger with ten subscribers, for example, won’t have as big of an impact as a major influencer who leaves a scathing review on WeChat. Target the right people and be strategic; offer an apology, replacement products, or refunds to keep people happy and reduce negative attention.
Ideally, you’ll want to ensure that all of your customers are satisfied, but as you grow you’ll find it harder to keep up with every brand mention and will need to change your strategy.
Managing negative attention
As we’ve just touched upon, monitoring and managing any negative attention is important. If you simply ignore negative reviews or allow complaints to build up, you’ll struggle to convince customers that you’re a reputable brand and that you care about their experiences.
Have a clear plan of action in place and consider building up a series of stock responses that your customer service representative can use when dealing with customer complaints. Tell them that you’re disappointed to hear their feedback and that you’d like to put things right.
You can also drown out negative attention by delivering the best products and customer service to your buyers and encourage them to leave reviews on sites and social media. You could even dangle a carrot and offer customers a future discount in exchange for a review.
Where necessary, you might decide to resort to law, though working with a reputable local lawyer and looking into alternative options beforehand makes sense. You should also be wary of the Streisand effect - if you attempt to hide or remove content from the internet, the blogger or social media influencer might inform their readers of your threats and legal action.
There you have it - some of the best ways to build your e-reputation in China. If you’re looking for help building a new or established brand in the country, reach out to Zudu China. Click here to get in touch and arrange a free, no-obligation digital marketing consultation.