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Forget the British, the Chinese Are Coming!

This was a topic discussed on Talk Social With Wahine Media, a weekly radio segment on The Matt DiGeronimo Show. Listen to the podcast replay here.

Photo: Pacific Business News files


Have you considered China as a viable market for your business?

Last week’s Annual Hawaii Tourism Conference hosted by the Hawaii Tourism Authority brought eye opening reminders of how Hawaii is not only a truly unique place to visit, but how we should continue to share our uniqueness with markets around the world, and China will be a big focus.

HTA projects that in 2014 there will be over 182,000 Chinese visitors who will come to Hawaii, spending $441.7 million. Does your business want a piece of that pie? If you do, you should think about reaching them on social media before they get here, and here’s why.


It was also reported that there are twice as many Chinese social media users than there are people in the United States. And it is projected that by 2015, there will be more posted on social media in Chinese than any other language.

This may be unbelievable news to some, but believe it or not, “the Chinese are coming”, as Brenda He said, who presented HTA China’s 2014 marketing plan.

It may also be news to some that China doesn’t have Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube as the rest of the world is used to. China has their own social media sites. There are several “Weibo”, or micro blog sites, one of the most popular is called Sina Weibo, which is almost identical to Facebook. You can post photos, videos or text updates, use hashtags, and tag other pages, just like Facebook.

Tencent Weibo is very similar to Twitter—it has a 140 character limit, and there is a re-posting feature much like Twitter’s retweet.

It goes without saying that almost all social networking sites in China are accessed on mobile devices so remember to think mobile and adjust your content accordingly. The best adjustment you can make is to always use photos that look good small, and make shorter captions.

You may also want to adjust your SEO strategies for China and other Asian markets. For instance, Baidu is the Chinese version of Google, Yahoo is the most popular search engine in Taiwan, Korea uses a search engine called Naver.

If you’re ready to take the next step and reach the Chinese on social media, surprisingly not a lot has to be done—the toughest challenge is to get a translator. Start with a Sina Weibo and or Tencent Weibo account. You can post much of the same content that you would use for your other social profiles, just be sure to add a few localized posts in between.

So yes, the Chinese are undoubtedly coming—in fact, they have been for some time but with HTA’s new focus on China, you better get ready, and what better and more accessible way than on social media.

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About Gwen Woltz

Gwen Woltz is co-founder of Wahine Media, a local social media agency specializing in strategically building thriving and engaged online communities for businesses. Gwen is past President of Social Media Club Hawaii, was a finalist for Pacific Edge Magazine's Young Professional of the Year, and is an instructor of social media at Pacific New Media Outreach College at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
  • Hi Gwen, Good write up.

    You correctly point out the Chinese are coming but there are significant challenges for the Hawaiian Tourism Authority in order to maximize the Chinese inbound opportunity.

    Firstly, one key limiting factor is the travel visa situation for Chinese wanting to enter Hawaii; currently this is overly complex and requires pre-planning. This is a known issue and is being address, although slowly. Chinese are increasingly becoming independent travelers (as apposed to Group travel) so tours, hotels and air carries may need to look at their language and food options to meet this specific group (much like what was done for the Japanese travelers).

    On the destination marketing side, we are seeing almost every Country in the world wanting to attract Chinese tourists so marketing Hawaii as destination needs to have a clear message; highlightly the unique values of this spot. The sun, surf and sea message is not unique and will be lost to Bali, Phuket and Sanya; destinations all offering similar messages. I would suggest culture, history and environment (a little like what the New Zealander’s have done).

    Just my 2 cents.

    Dr. Mathew McDougall
    CEO, Digital Jungle

    • Gwen Woltz

      Hi Mathew!

      All awesome and valid points you have made, thank you for adding your 2 cents to this conversation!

      If there is one thing that stood out at the HTA conference in regard to China, it is that Hawaii is currently a “last stop” as part of a east to west US tour. Mostly because Hawaii is seen by Chinese visitors as a destination that only offers the iconic tropical experience as you pointed out. I agree with you and think Hawaii should be marketed as a destination that has it all—because we do! Beaches, city, shopping, culture, adventure, food—all of what can be experienced in a east to west US tour.

      It is unfortunate that the visa situation is what it is, but hopefully it will be an issue of the past very soon.

      I look forward to continuing this conversation!