Chinese organizations started monitoring social media for purposes of PR crisis management. As I noted in an earlier report, Spring Airlines decided to build social listening functions to identify crises and perform basic brand tracking after struggling with a public relations crisis — the backlash from airline staff blacklisting a passenger for complaining about flight delays — on Sina Weibo in 2012. Like Spring Airlines, most Chinese organizations now hire social media monitoring specialists and leverage insights drawn from social data to support marketing functions like optimizing marketing campaigns in real time, measuring the results of social campaigns, and collecting ratings and reviews from customers.

Moving forward, some early adopters in China have applied social listening to broader business functions in their organizations, including customer service, sales, distribution, and product innovation. In my most recent report, I see that these early birds have achieved benefits including:

  • Optimized customer experience in marketing campaigns. A leading beverage company used a social listening platform to analyze consumer sentiments and shorten response times in China. Its marketing team created an in-house social marketing benchmark system, instantly analyzes customer behavior, and modifies its marketing campaigns based on that analysis.
  • Predictive insights for product distribution and sales.A retail company used social listening platforms to predict demand for its products and modify its regional product inventories. Based on customers’ social activities and location information, predictive insights helped the retailer save logistics and warehousing costs and improve customer satisfaction.
  • Support for product innovation.Xiaomi, the world's fifth-largest smartphone brand, leveraged social listening to understand consumers’ opinions of and feedback on including Xiaomi’s marketing, sales, products, and customer service throughout the customer life cycle.

These examples show that it’s time to apply social listening to the entire organization in China. Let me know if you have any questions when you plan to implement a consistent social listening strategy in this country.