Tag Archives: social media strategy

WTM Report Reveals WeChat’s E-Commerce Expansion

With the travel industry descending into the capital en masse for World Travel Market 2014, the latest trends and forecasts in the tourism sector are emerging thick and fast. We’ve been keeping an eye out for the ones that mean the most to our clients (and ourselves!) and something that’s really caught our eye is the rapid rise of WeChat (Weixin) in China.

WeChat is China’s fastest-growing mobile platform, and has become the second largest global messaging service, with 440 million active users to rival WhatsApp’s 500 million. It’s so popular in China that it has become Weibo’s biggest competitor, further fuelling the enduring rivalry between internet service providers Sina and Tencent.

Inevitably, marketers have been turning their eye towards the platform, and some brands have already established a presence on there. The WTM Global Trends Report 2014 indicates that this popularity shows no sign of slowing: In fact, the platform is emerging as a viable sales channel for travel companies.

The report, in association with Euromonitor International, has revealed that WeChat is expected to generate revenues of US$1.1 billion in 2014 and grow by 40% in 2015. Although most of this revenue comes from online games, the company is currently focusing on increasing its revenues from mobile commerce and payments. Given that surveys suggest that it is the most popular platform in China for the sharing of travel experiences, this can only be good news for those wishing to sell their offering to the Chinese market.

WeChat (as well as LINE, a Japanese-based service which is gradually gaining traction in China) now allows companies to manage customer support through their app, which is particularly useful for the travel trade, where a swift response to customer issues can make the difference between a positive and negative interaction. Several travel businesses are already taking advantage of this. Leading online travel agency Ctrip is selling air, rail and attractions tickets through WeChat, whilst Chinese taxi app DidiDache saw its users double to 40 million in one month after beginning a partnership with company. Low-cost carrier Spring Airlines also launched a WeChat service in April 2014, allowing users to book flights and check in using the app.

According to the WTM Global Trends Report 2014, WeChat is expected to be lauched on all internet-connected movile devices including smartwatches and smartglasses, meaning that the platform will tap in to another key growing trend. As World Travel Market’s Senior Director, Simon Press, commented: “Instant messaging platforms have emerged from nowhere to become an important sales channel in one of the world’s fastest growing travel markets, and there is still more growth to come.

“And as accessing the internet from a smartphone becomes commonplace, instant messaging as a transactional channel could take off in mature markets as well.”

China’s significance as a growing travel market isn’t waning, and emerging technological advances such as WeChat’s should make us all sit up and take notice. The ability to provide customer service via the platform is ideal for companies based outside of China who have previously found providing real-time customer service a challenge; whilst the expansion of its e-commerce capabilities means that brands enhancing their presence on the app can follow customer interactions through to purchase. The app’s early adaptation to mobile devices, including wearables, means that it is well-placed to continue its trajectory as one of China’s leading social media platforms.

In short, there’s no reason to delay in embracing WeChat as the best new way to interact with, and sell to, the vast Chinese travel market. Language barrier a problem? It’s not a problem for us at Rhubarb Fool, so why don’t you get in touch?

Social Media: Know Your Audience Part II

You should be aware by now that really knowing your audience is a key component of any successful social media campaign.

But what happens when cultural differences obscure your view or prevent your message from getting across? How can you make a meaningful connection with your audience when you don’t really understand them?

The fact is that you can’t understand an entire culture by googling it. That’s why you need to call in the experts – like us at Rhubarb Fool.

We have a network of creatives from around the world who don’t only translate and transcreate, but who also advise on the messages we’re sending out and how they will resonate with our target markets.

Something can be catchy and clear in English, but confusing or even offensive in another language, or to another culture. That’s why it’s imperative that you collaborate with the experts to ensure that you

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really do know your audience as well as you think you do.

A really obvious example is how you might omit any images that show a lot of skin to tailor a product for the Middle Eastern market. But that’s not where it ends – the other day in the office we had a discussion with our Arabic copywriter about the overtones of the word ‘revolution’ and how our audience might read it.

In short – it’s not just the words that need transcreating, but the campaign as a whole.

Another culture in which this is particularly important to bear in mind is Chinese. As well as the quirks that come

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with any individual society, there are whole different social media networks to bear in mind.

RenRen was set up in 2005, and is a Facebook-like social network that tends to be used by younger generations – students and teens. After launching a new mobile app in late 2013, it increased its register users to a huge 194 million and reached 54 million monthly active users.

Weibo is the most popular social network in China by far, with around 280 million active users and 500 million registered users. It’s a globally significant network that’s ahead of the tech curve – many western celebrities and organisations have Weibo accounts, and it rolled out its multimedia functions before Twitter.

You might worry about the fact that censorship seems to have deterred some users – but the worldwide popularity of social media shows no sign of abating, so you simply can’t ignore a whole demographic on this basis alone. And these are just two of the most popular Chinese social networks to consider.

The only way to really be sure which network, angle, or approach will work best for your campaign is to consult with the experts.

Like we say here at Rhubarb Fool – listen, create, communicate.

Rhubarb Fool LinkedIn Social Media Strategy

Social media is just like … football Part V

Rhubarb Fool attempts to apply its love of the beautiful game to the challenges presented to small businesses by social media

You think that inventing the game gives you a right to be pre-eminent within it.

Let’s lean on the wisdom of Gary Vaynerchuk again. “Forget Mad Men, and f*ck Don Draper,” he wrote, firmly avoiding beating about the bush. Gary bases his views on his belief that: “Don Draper lived in an easy world where … you could spend your whole career working to figure out how the print and television markets worked”.

This is not the reality we are now confronted with. This world, the one we are all trying to negotiate is evolving every second, of every day.

If you want to use your resources diffusing your brand’s story on social media (highly advisable) and if that effort and resource is going to translate into commercial results (which it will), then you need to open yourself to the fact that what’s succeeded in the past may have no relevance to what will succeed in the future. There are no divine rights here, no matter how innovative or good you or your business might once have been.

The rules of the game now are defined by micro-content, moments of inspiration, the riding of waves and banishing any sense of entitlement.

So ask yourself: Am I up to the task of keeping up to speed and following a path full of deviations and unanticipated turns? Can I compete in the dynamic world of social media?

We believe that with effort, enterprise and enthusiasm; you’ll find it a world that offers more opportunities than challenges.

Social media is just like … football Part IV

Rhubarb Fool attempts to apply its love of the beautiful game to the challenges presented to small businesses by social media

You’re passing the ball backwards. 

It seems that a lot of people are still making the mistake of beginning their tweets with an “@”. This serves only to make the tweets invisible on their followers’ streams, unless they are following that other tagged handle as well.

If you insist on starting a tweet with tagging another account, put a full-stop in front of the “@” so the tweet is visible to all of your followers.

You think that the World Cup should never be played in Qatar. 

Maybe it shouldn’t. But you can’t afford to ignore the new in favour of the old all the time.  You might see Snapchat as little more than an adolescent phase. (Remember “Phasebook”). Your assessment might ultimately be proved correct. But it would be a folly to ignore a social platform whose users send 400 million messages each day. Snapchat has a core audience whose ages are between 13 and 25. It’s already fulfilling a vital function in the way that the next generation shares things with each other and communicates with each other.

We don’t dispute that it’s going to be difficult to play your game in circumstances that might be unfamiliar and uncomfortable.  But sometimes it’s the boat that heads out to sea in the storm that lands the biggest haul of fish.

So ask yourself. Are you playing it safe with the unfamiliar? Are you letting others find out the lie of the land in these emerging markets? Or are you learning and adapting so that you can prevail in spheres that may initially seem unattractive.

Rhubarb Fool Content Creators

Social media is just like … football Part III

Rhubarb Fool attempts to apply its love of the beautiful game to the challenges presented to small businesses by social media

Too much shooting. Not enough passing.

Research suggests that customers engage with brands that “Pass” (offer something of value) a lot. These are essentially the brands that put out a lot of thoughtful and attractive content, without explicitly making sales pitches. In doing this, a brand is essentially collaborating with its customers. It’s creating a shared emotional experience with each person and demonstrating its value to them and their lives.

Just like football, it’s the considered and complex string of passes that sets up the perfect shot. There’s no mystery as to why the teams that play thoughtful, intricate and measured football garner so much support from the neutral football fan.

So ask yourself what’s your ratio of passes to right shots? If it’s not–Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Shot – you could be doing something wrong.

You’re trying to play the game and support your team from the stands.

Let’s think of hashtags as being like a potential audience that’s prepared to get behind you and applaud everything that you do well, so long as you meet its wishes. The best way to respond to this audience would be to use it as a resource and make it work for you. Let the audience offer you

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support and momentum, rather than trying to create this support and momentum for yourself. An audience can be like a great wave. Sometimes it’s effective and expedeint to try and ride the wave, rather than create one of your own

Like it or not, the fact is that it’s unlikely that you will single-handedly get a hashtag to trend on Twitter (unless of course you’re David Beckham or Cristiano Ronaldo). However, if you pay attention to what’s popular and effectively hitch yourself to the popular wagon you may yield heightened performances from rather unexceptional tweets. You might not have the profile you’d like to have in an ideal world, but you can attract attention by surrendering to the currents that are being created by the audience

So take the time to follow what people are talking about on Twitter and identify what the audience is talking about? Are you listening for the wave and tacking your colours to the appropriate mast, or are you wasting time and effort by trying to determine what’s popular within the audience yourself.

Rhubarb Fool WEIBO CHINESE SOCIal MEDIA

Social media is just like … football Part II

Rhubarb Fool attempts to apply its love of the beautiful game to the challenges presented to small businesses by social media

You’ve got the wrong boots.

You wouldn’t play football in running spikes and you shouldn’t post essays on Instagram.

The best social content is essentially indigenous to its platform. This means that the content should be appropriate to the context it’s presented in. Your objective in engaging with social media should be to seamlessly offer the right message in the right environment, by ensuring that your content is right for the playing conditions (each platform’s unique style).

For example, Tumblr seems to engage those of a more artistic temperament and supports animated GIFs; whereas Twitter speaks to a younger, socially engaged, savvy urban audience.

So ask yourself what’s the indigenous environment of the platform you’re trying to speak on? Steven

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Gerrard is unlikely to burst through from midfield and net the winner in Mo Farah’s running spikes.

You haven’t changed your strategy since 1966.

The last thing we’d ever want at Rhubarb Fool is to detract from the glory that others have earned back in the day. But the likelihood is that what worked then won’t work now. Back in the glory days of television, you’d be watching the F.A. Cup Final and at half time you’d be sold washing powder. That worked then.

Today any break in a live football match offers the opportunity for you to be offered the opportunity to take a punt on the next goal-scorer. It’s advertising that’s bang up to date, responsive and interactive.

Businesses engage with social media to sell their products and services. However, potential customers have a different objective when they use this medium. And it’s largely to be entertained. The fact is that if you want your business to interact with people while they are seeking entertainment, you have to be that entertainment.

For example the person using Instagram is likely to be doing so because they want to look at beautiful pictures. So you’ll gain nothing by interrupting their experience by posting a picture of a 10% off coupon. Rather your focus should be on how you can integrate a picture of your product into an image that maintains a degree of aesthetic appeal and artistic integrity. Do this in an intelligent and sophisticated fashion and you could find yourself setting agendas and attracting attention to your brand. So don’t disrupt the entertainment, become part of the entertainment. What worked then, won’t work now.

Social media is just like … football Part I

Rhubarb Fool attempts to apply its love of the beautiful game to the challenges presented to small businesses by social media

Gary Vaynerchuk, the best-selling author and the man considered by many to be the king of social media, recently compared social media strategy to boxing. Gary broke down social media strategy into five simple words: “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook!”

While we at Rhubarb Fool don’t wish to detract from the pugilistic analogy, our love is for the beautiful game. As such, we’re more inclined to base our sporting analogies on football. At Rhubarb Fool we’re not thinking about “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook!” We’re thinking about “Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Shoot!”

So what do such analogies actually mean? The passing analogy is useful

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to a point because in a game of football a good pass will create space and opportunity. But the relationship between you and your customers is not really, as adversarial as the relationship between two football teams playing each other. You won’t build opportunity by breaking your customer down. You’ll do it by offering something of value to them. So for the Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Shoot! analogy you could read instead: “Offer Something of Value, Offer Something of Value, Offer Something of Value, Offer Something of Value, Pitch”.

It could also be reasonably argued that the world of social media is far more confusing, complex and sometimes more overwhelming than a match of football. Social media can be difficult to navigate and its constantly evolving nature is such that only routine use of and exposure to it will allow expertise to develop. Just as the great professional footballer trains every day and maintains a dedicated (and sometimes all consuming) focus on their game: so the social media professional will dedicate themselves to maintaining a position at the forefront of innovation, development and effectiveness in their industry.

But let’s be clear. Most of us are too busy running business to dedicate ourselves entirely to social media. The luxury of staying abreast of all that is new and exciting in this field is simply not viable if you’re spinning a dozen other plates. So please indulge us at Rhubarb Fool and let us critically assess the elements of practice than can lead to mis-placed effort and undesired outcomes. We’ll apply our football analogy to some social media faux pas. In this series of posts we’re going to set out seven of them for your consideration:

 

 

Rhubarb Fool offers some top commercial tips for 2014 Part III

Don’t hide your lantern behind a bushel. Share your successes

It’s easy to tell yourself that a job well done is simply a job done as it should have been done and thereafter move on with a quite air of contentment and satisfaction. But you can’t rely on others to shout your having done a job well from the roof tops.

So make sure that you publicise your commercial successes; however, insignificant these might appear to you. Taken on a new member of staff? Success. Submitted a pitch? Success. Won a pitch? Major success. As attractive as modesty is as a personal quality, you’ll find that it’s a far less

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valuable commercial quality.

Social media offers a great medium for sharing your successes. So if you haven’t embraced a Facebook page,

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Twitter account, LinkedIn profile and Instagram account, then make these tools part of your commercial armoury in 2014. It may be that different elements of social media have different values to your business. But viewed holistically it’s vital that social media becomes a central part of your marketing plan.

Bit of a technophobe? Please don’t be put off. Engaging with social media certainly doesn’t have to be a complex process. If you have even a small staff team, the chances are that there will be somebody within this who already has a personal account and will offer you ready assistance in taking that first step to set up your business’s own account. Social media offers a quick, cost-free way of connecting with your customers, creating and promoting brand awareness and, in some cases, establishing new business.

Though we will never shy from promoting social media as a great commercial tool, never forget that it is not without its limitations. There’s no replacement for the face-to-face contact between you and your customers and good old-fashioned networking. Early morning breakfast meetings and 60 second business pitches

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in front of a room full of strangers might not be the most comfortable means of promoting your business, but sometimes leaving your comfort zone can stimulate collaboration, recommendation and the establishing of pathways to new business. Regardless of the power of social media, there remains a host of different networking groups that cater for all industries. Some of these are offered in formal settings, but there are plenty of less formal networking opportunities available.

Stay one step ahead of the game

The more you engage with your business and your industry (by reading, listening and communicating), the better placed you’ll be to start defining the direction that your business takes. So subscribe to newsletters, participate in talks and attend seminars. You’ll stay fresh by keeping abreast of all the innovations in your sector. If you’re the first to know about the advances and new developments you can start sharing your knowledge (and promoting your opinions) by the all important means of social media.

Digital design, branding and content part II

Rhubarb Fool shares 10 benefits of quality web design

5. THE PURPOSE, INTEGRITY AND COHERENCE OF YOUR CONTENT

Content and design should co-exist in harmony on your site. Always remember that it will take visitors some effort to try and understand what you’re trying to say. So make sure you don’t:

  • say it in blocks of small, dense text
  • set out your text in an unattractive way
  • use tools of navigation that aren’t straightforward.
  • allow your “calls to action” to be confused.
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visitors away. The job of a good designer is to work with your content. They’ll deliver it with clarity and visual appeal, so that it directs your visitors to do what you want them to do.

6. THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL

Choice of fonts, text spacing and contrast are the sort of details that make a significant difference to the overall quality of your site. Such subtleties could be overlooked by those happier

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with function than design. But ultimately it’s is these subtleties that can determine how readable and functional the site is.

7. LEAVE IT TO THOSE WHO CAN SEE THINGS AS THEY ARE, RATHER THAN AS YOU’D LIKE THEM TO BE.

Your expertise is your business. The chances are that your expertise is not web-design. Sometimes you’ll actually benefit from making a trade off by focusing on what actually works for the web, rather than what actually works for you. When you pay the premium for a professional web designer, you’re paying for some who as the experience of translating ideas into web pages.

8. AVOID FALSE ECONOMIES.

Everybody wants a good deal. But how many times have we all regretted convincing ourselves that the great price we’ve been offered would actually deliver a great quality product. It’s quite possible to try to buy into the promise of getting high-quality design services and ending up spending time and money having to get someone else to put a bad job right. You’ll never run a business well if you don’t try and secure value for money in your purchases. But our experience is that good design takes time. As such, it costs money.

9. RELIABLE PARTNERSHIP

Business owners and web designers need to take a completely collaborative approach to creating a website. The process involves communication, a to and fro of ideas, conflict and compromise. If you can go through this process and deliver a satisfactory outcome, you’ll be at a point of establishing a long term commercial relationship.

10. ROOM FOR DEVELOPMENT

The foundations that should be laid by good quality web-design should offer a solid foundation from which improvements and embellishments can be made. It may be that you want to want to add a new product, or include a new service. Whatever the case may be, your site should already have have a suitably strong aesthetic to allow you to move forwards rather than to retread old ground.

So if you’re looking for some guidance in the field of web-design why not contact us at Rhubarb Fool. What you’ll find is a process that will be all about you. Not us.

Media strategy tourism retail rhubarb fool

Marketing across multi-media formats with Rhubarb Fool

How Rhubarb Fool can practice the perfect multi-media marketing strategy and why you can’t afford to be a one trick pony.

A beautiful billboard advertising campaign, focused on sites of premium exposure, will turn heads and it could create a stir. But what happens when the wind and rain works its magic?

The beautiful colours will fade and that high quality paper will tear. At Rhubarb Fool we believe that nothing will serve you as well as an integrated marketing plan that has breadth, charisma and durability.

But, as is the case in all of our commercial activities, that’s easy to say, but difficult to do. At Rhubarb Fool the task we set ourselves is to identify the best possible combination on markets approaches to take with your brand.

Research undertaken by Pointroll (in conjunction with Kelton Research) in 2012 generated some interesting pointers. In surveys of marketing professionals more than half of these professionals suggested that would use 5+ marketing methods in a single campaign. Of these, 15% said they used between 7 – 9 different methods and 13% claimed to routinely be hitting double figures in the methods they would use.

This suggested to us that people in the know seemed more inclined to approach the market place with a wide net, rather than a deep net.

But let’s be clear. Although Rhubarb Fool is able to pick from an extensive stable of marketing methods, there’s no chance of us being able to spend five minutes looking at your business and then tell you what methods are going to work best for you. Unlike Google, we don’t have fantastic algorithms at our command. We still have to suck it and see sometimes.

Think about cooking your favourite dish. Imagine the blend of herbs and spices; or cooking times and methods that deliver those taste sensations that you seek. Sometimes you’ll be best served by closing the recipe book and relying instead on Instinct and experience. You need to personalise the recipe. It’s just the same process in identifying the best methods of marketing for a company.

When we approach (for example) marketing methods for a digital campaign, we would be thinking along the lines of content, social media, apps, tablets, website development and search engines. Any number of these can be used in a digital marketing campaign, but you wouldn’t necessarily need to use all of them.

The success of a marketing campaign will be defined by its ability to make as many people as possible (in your target market) absorb your brand’s message.

We don’t think you’ll do this by a billboard on the North Circular, unless awareness was measured by the number of hours that London’s ill-favoured motorists spent staring at it. But we’re In the digital world. At Rhubarb Fool we want to diffuse your brand’s message across a bespoke selection of online streams . We want these streams to support and reinforce each other, and thereby provide a solution to brand communication that is integrated and holistic.

Allow me a cliche. At Rhubarb Fool “we’re always thinking outside the box”.The digital world is constantly evolving and by way of this process it’s always generating new marketing opportunities. Let’s look at Vine. It’s a social app, which allows users to capture and share a constantly looping 6-second video, for example. The potential that this had for marketers looking to create branded content is huge. It’s just one of the new marketing methods that Rhubarb Fool is harnessing.

To better illustrate out approach, let’s imagine we’re working with a young travel company, which had asked us to increase its profile. We might think about running a competition to engage potential punters. But, for that competition to work, we’d need people to know about it.

And how would we do this?

We might write a witty article or produce a comical video to surround our competition? But that’s not all. From there, we’d be using all of our skills to get our great content published on a variety of high profile and targeted sites. These would encourage and incentivise our audience to visit a website that we would have had specifically made for the competition.

Then, we’d be working to inspire people

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to share and engage with the brand via the hashtag or Twitter handle we would have created for the occasion. And beyond that we’d look at have a Facebook page underpinning the whole process.

So I hope you can see how Rhubarb Fool would use content, website development, social sharing and all-round exposure to engage your target market. Once we’ve done that your target market will yield customer upon customer. We want to give your audience more than a simple banner ad. We want to give it a whole brand experience that it can interact with.