We Are Social's Pete Lin shared his secret sauce for developing lasting creative campaigns during his keynote address at ClickZ Live Shanghai.

When it comes to creating strong social campaigns, one good insight is worth more than 50 bad insights, according to Pete Lin, managing director for We Are Social's Shanghai office.

Opening the conference at ClickZ Live Shanghai this week, Lin outlined his four steps to producing creative content around 'contentment' for social media initiatives in China. First and foremost, all content must be created with the end consumer in mind. While managing updates and sharing pictures with captions is important, Lin noted, it is not what makes an effective social program. 

"We all understand content marketing is important, but simply building content is not enough. You want your user to be content with your content," he said. 

Step 1: Get the Right Insight

The process begins by isolating that one good insight, which means mapping out the data, looking at what competitors are doing, and digging deep into how that data is collected. Western platforms such as Twitter and Facebook make collecting data easy, with a wide range of free and paid tools. In China, however, Sina Weibo is the platform that comes closest to delivering that level of data to marketers. Then it comes down to selecting the key piece of insight depending on your overall business objective.

For example, when French bank BNP Paribas wanted to generate awareness for its Millennial banking app, Hello Bank, their insight was very specific - French Millennials open Spotify three times a day. A broader insight could have been "French Millennials spend two hours a day on social media", but this wouldn't have translated to a highly relevant and targeted audience. 

By combining the trends of virtual (Read more...) online music-streaming and crowd -funding, the bank created Hello Play, a crowd-sponsoring music platform that allows Millennials in France to convert the music they listen to into a virtual currency. The more they listened, the more Hello Coins they earned, which were then used to fund music projects of their choice. Within weeks of the launch, users had listened to one million tracks through the app and almost 500,000 coins were collected to fund 28 music projects.

Step 2: Plan Contentment, Not Content

To build contentment, Lin said that marketers need to put consumer objectives first and brand objectives second, as Netflix UK & Ireland did last year. Using people's fear of being spoiled to create buzz around its final episode of Breaking Bad, Netflix introduced Spoiler Foiler to its Twitter fans, allowing them to hide tweets with danger words from their feeds.

In China, a pasta brand might follow a traditional social strategy, such as offering users recipes, pasta giveaways and employing celebrity moms as endorsers.

"Overall, because it is pasta, you are essentially trying to change the eating habits of an entire nation," said Lin, adding that a clever campaign may, instead, have celebrity chefs demonstrate ways of making pasta the Chinese way.

Step 3: Innovate Within Your Constraints

Regardless of budget - though Lin argues that a small one is no excuse for a lack of innovation - marketers should look at channel selection carefully. Investing in banners on a small budget, for example, may not allow a brand to reach critical mass or cut through the noise.

"I'm not married to search or banners or programmatic buying," he said. "I'm just married to effectiveness."

For the Chinese market, smaller, emerging platforms in particular should be considered. These include social video apps such as MiaoPai, Meipai and Weishi, and upcoming streaming apps similar to the West's Periscope. Many are well-funded and not reliant on advertising revenue. What they need is a strong user base, and this is where a co-operation between a brand and an emerging platform for co-branding initiatives can work well together. He added that while the communities might be smaller - in China, small apps may still have 20 million users - a brand's level of visibility will be higher on a smaller platform.

"The biggest mistake people make in China is, everyone thinks you must win on WeChat," Lin said. "You need to have a presence on the big ones like WeChat and Weibo, but every day there are new apps coming online that give brands new opportunities to get ahead of the competition and to cut though the noise."

Step 4: Remember, You Are In China

Most importantly, remember you are in China.

Chinese social media went into a frenzy earlier this year after a video of a couple having sex in a Uniqlo Beijing store fitting room went viral. The scandal generated RMB 10 million (US$1.6 million) in media value for the brand, but came at a cost. While Uniqlo has denied the incident was a marketing stunt, a number of people were arrested.

Lin's final advice to brands in China is not to "do the same thing over and over again. Try something new."

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