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                                         March 2014

Social Media strategies of luxury resorts for the Chinese market

Prof. Dr. Bodo Kluxen

and:

Christopher Adjei, Christof Diefenbach, Eskandar Farsimadan,

Jonas Herdt and Jasmin Rothenbücher

 

1. Current state of affairs

1.1 Introduction

The common luxury hotels and resorts around the world currently feature a prominent presence on Social Media platforms with particular focus on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and the occasional collaboration with respective bloggers, among others.

But to take a hold on contemporary and future trends they have to become more focused on reaching their target groups directly, rather than going through Tour Operators and Travel Agents. But therefore, an overall Social Media strategy as well as respective sub-strategies for the regional and local geographic markets is only partly established.

The aim of the following paper is to offer insights and ideas for a future local Social Media strategy for luxury resorts, with a direct customer approach and USP communication in the one-to-one marketing channel. Using the example of the Maldives product area, the main focus of this future local Social Media strategy is the approach to the Asian market, with particular interest in end-consumers from China and thereby specifically a future younger market with possible focus on special target groups and niche markets.

 

1.2 Why a Social Media Strategy?

Since Social Media is part of a brand, it is a function of strategic value and should be treated as such and related interactions have to be integrated and compliant with the rest of the Marketing and PR activities. Here, the key to a successful Social Media strategy lies in the very fact that it is driven by its customers. A brand is only the starting point for conversations and exchange of information and a Social Media platform only the place, the nexus, where everything and everyone returns to in the end.

“It Takes a Community, not a Campaign to Build a Brand”.[1] Understanding this basic theme means understanding the overall context of the Social Media discourse. Everybody listens more to referrals and recommendations of experts, even friends and colleagues, then brands and advertisement alone. Therefore, advertisement does not take effect all by itself. Without social context advertisement is irrelevant, just as brands are irrelevant without enthusiastic customers.

And still, most companies misunderstand communication with Social Media as a one way street and as a result, feedback from the users is often answered late and sometimes not at all. However, even minor communication breakdowns, if failed to observe, can develop a rapid negative momentum. Therefore a dialog-concept that systematically controls the communication with the users has to be defined, just as the context and purpose of the Social Media activities.

 

2 Target Group Analysis

In this chapter we take a closer look into the mindset of the target group, being international travelers from China. The target group is thereby analyzed in two parts: First a general insight to the character, behavior and leisure pursuits of the luxury travelers, followed by an overview of the Social Media landscape in China, with insights into their usage and user preferences.

2.1 General Insights

Based on a booming economy, hand in hand with an exponential rise of millionaires and a rapidly expanding middle class, the Chinese travel market has become one of the fastest growing in the world, as mentioned in the Chinese International Travel Monitor 2012.[2] This report surveyed both Chinese travelers and hoteliers to gain an insight into key factors for the decision-making process. There, it is clear that the world’s largest group of overseas tourists receive first information about hotels mainly from friends, 60% of the time, but travel guides and websites are important sources of information too. Especially for younger generations travel agents are losing out to the internet. 57% of travelers under the age of 35 are much more likely to book hotels directly through the company website and 45% of those over the age of 35.

Main deciding factors when it comes to the booking process are star rating, comfort and facilities. So, although the first information sources are friends, the actual reason to book is on another desk. It’s the location’s overall quality. There are top services in demand from Chinese visitors that are no more simply “nice-to-haves” but a competitive necessity. The most important are: On-site shops selling luxury goods, in-house Mandarin-speaking staff, on-site translation services, translated travel guides and a partnership with China UnionPay to process payments from Chinese guests. Also a free Wi-Fi, Chinese restaurants on-site and room service options have to be considered.[3]

In reference to most popular hotel facilities, the Travel Monitor points out that the top three are restaurants, shops and bars. The modern Chinese traveler is more independent, younger and sophisticated, there amongst others popular themes describing this target group are confidence, money, online reservations, affluent and receptive.[4]

High-end and luxury shopping is also known as a predominant factor. As noted in a study of KPMG, for Chinese luxury consumers’ high quality, durability, exclusivity and uniqueness are top luxury features worth paying a premium for.[5]

Other interesting factors about Chinese travelers with the focus on the luxury site are given in the Hurun Report: The Chinese Luxury Traveler 2013.[6] There it comes out that the preferred leisure pursuit of Chinese’ super rich and dollar millionaires is “traveling” in itself. Right after that there is reading, tea testing and driving. Surprisingly, in 2012, swimming became the most preferred sport among Chinese wealthy individuals. And apart from that the top five contains gulf, mountaineering, yoga and badminton. Mostly, they decide themselves about the destination for traveling, whereas travel companions are predominantly family members. The purpose of sightseeing or business and the hotel selection brand-based or location-based are approximately in a 50:50 balance.

According to the report Chinese wealthy are now traveling overseas for business less frequently. There is 38% of this target group spending their annual holiday for 10-20 days, and 47% with 1-2 annual trips overseas.

 

 

 

2.2 Social Media Insights

Connections means “power” in China that’s why social networks have become part of the relationship-building fabric of the Chinese society. About half of China’s more than half-billion internet users are also using Social Media networking sites and all of these platforms are home grown.[7]

The Chinese government banned major international platforms to enter the social network market in China, but even if China allowed outside platforms, Chinese companies have the natural advantage of understanding the behavior and character of the Chinese consumer, meaning brands cannot simply translate their Western Social Media content.

“The first step, regardless of industry or country, is always to understand where the target client, or prospective target, spends the most time and to ensure that the brand is offering the right emotionally-driven experience for that touch point,” said Florent Bondoux, Strategy and Intelligence Business Unit Manager of the Digital Luxury Group in Geneva.[8]

For luxury brands doing business in China this usually translates into a global strategy on major international platforms combined with a local strategy on locally-relevant Social Media platforms, media and blogs.

But there are many major sites in the Social Media landscape of China, each one serving a different purpose. The following Social Media platforms – in order of importance – are worth watching when planning to establish a luxury brand presence in this highly complex market.

            Sina Weibo

Sina Weibo is the most visited and important site in China and therefore usually the lead platform where a luxury brand starts off.

Weibo is the Chinese translation for “microblog” and is considered to be China’s equivalent of Twitter. But simply describing Sina Weibo as the Twitter of China underestimates Weibo's unique capabilities, reach and leadership role in the Chinese Social Media landscape. Sina Weibo is an essential platform to more than 30% of the Chinese Internet users, with its popularity attributed to its nature as a mash up of Twitter and Facebook, giving users the ability to include images and video, something Twitter only implemented at a much later date.[9]

Already in 2011, Sina Weibo had a share of 56.5% of China's microblogging market based on active users and 86.6% based on browsing time over its competitors.[10] As of December 2012 Sina Weibo had 503 million registered users.[11]

Today it is the lead platform for social discourse, the biggest driver for consumer activity and a major celebrity hub. Just as American and other Western celebrities use Twitter as a means to communicate with their fans, Chinese celebrities chose Sina Weibo as a way to connect with their fans and increase their popularity. These VIP users include Chinese Celebrities from Hong Kong, mainland China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Macau movie stars, singers, famous business and media figures, athletes, scholars, artists, organizations, religious figures, government departments and officials.[12]

            RenRen

RenRen is the Chinese equivalent – with a striking resemblance – to Facebook and is considered the prime Social Media platform for the college-educated population in China.[13] Rising to popularity as a competitor to Kaixin, RenRen has for now come out on top of the battle with 31 million active users per month.[14] Since then, RenRen tries to expand its reach beyond it’s mainly student user-base.

            Kaixin

Launched in 2008, Kaixin is the original “Facebook of China” and in the beginning quickly rose to popularity thanks to the banning of international sites by the Chinese government. But in the last years Kaixin lost an increasing number of users to its competitor RenRen. Following the same main purpose as RenRen, Kaixin additionally focuses on gaming services, by copying famous and successful Facebook applications.

            YouKu

As the Chinese equivalent to YouTube, YouKu is a video hosting and sharing platform with the vast majority of content on the platform being user-generated by consumers. Analogous to YouTube, videos can be found across the spectrum from funny videos to social commentary or consumers favorite brands and luxury ware. The Chinese mainly use YouKu for relaxing and entertainment, voicing opinions and sharing personal videos.

Owing their popularity to the power of visual impressions and having clear social networking characteristics, like own communities, “liking” content, interaction with other users and “following” interesting channels, video platforms like YouKu and YouTube already represent the biggest competition to “traditional” Social Media platforms.[15]

With a market share of 35.5% in 2012, YouKu is the second largest video online platform in the world, after YouTube.[16]

2.3 Cultural differences

Now after the overview of the most important Chinese Social Media platforms, additionally the cultural differences of the Chinese consumer hast to be considered. Instead of seeing China as one country with one people, brands need to recognize that each area of China presents different challenges, demographics and reactions to marketing activities.[17]

For example, while the two sites RenRen and Kaixin represent the seldom case of two top-sites serving the exact same purpose, both can coexist because consumers in Northern China prefer Kaixin (Beijing, Shanghai) while those in the South prefer RenRen (Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen).

The consumers in these areas have obviously different personal and professional backgrounds, interests and Social Media preferences. Therefore, it is inevitable to understand and maintain a presence on more than one Social Media platform in China.

 

3. Social Media Benchmark

The following chapter will provide an impression of the current state of affairs in the Social Media activities of the top competitors for the Maldives product area. Based on the key findings, accordingly recommendations are made to improve the general and current Social Media activities. Afterwards, based on the insights of the Target Group Analysis in the previous chapter and the results of the Social Media Benchmark, a future local Social Media strategy for the target group is defined.

3.1 Results and Recommendations

            Facebook

With a few exceptions all resorts have quite the same type of quality photographs, a catalogue and glossy look. Additionally there are general themes like food, spa, facilities and nature they have in common apart from events or posts of discount. The competitors have a widespread use of apps on Facebook like “Book now” implementations among others and social connectivity

But a more balanced interaction between the respective resorts and their users is recommended. As it is, some resorts have a low activity in response rate but at the same time a lot of “Likes” as lightweight interactions, which is a “lazy approach”. Instead of just to “like”, communication has to be on par with users. It is important to take over the user’s perspective, they need to feel that they are being taken serious.

Furthermore a balanced mixture of selected amateur photographs and advertising pictures, as well as a balanced focus on specific offers/events and general catalogue themes is recommended. Additionally a better app integration with a proper “Book now” implementation, discount offers and social connectivity. Facebook may be used as a central Social Media hub (Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Write a Review/TripAdvisor) and to encourage user participation guests should be invited to upload Pinterest and/or Instagram pictures to an on-site photo gallery. It is of essence that the guests get involved and recommend as well.

            Twitter

The analysis of Twitter activities showed no obvious deficits. But observing the retweets of users, the power of visual impressions should not be underestimated, even it is “just” a microblog service. Similar to “Shares” on Facebook, the “Retweets” on Twitter have a lot of power to reach a broader audience, especially with influencers like celebrities.

            Pinterest

Almost all competitors have dedicated local profiles for the Maldives product area or at least take part in the global group presences. Here, the photographs should consist of a broader variety of motives, including amateur photographs of special events, not just exclusively as a digital catalogue. Pinterest can be used as a kind of photo diary with specific themes, offers and events. Exchange and reuse of specific photographs will keep followers up to date. Furthermore, more follow-activities are important, so to watch out for trends and possible cooperation opportunities (e.g. luxury fashion ware, cosmetics, etc.). Particularly on Pinterest there is a high chance to discover special target groups and niche markets, thereby increasing the reach to the audience.

            YouTube

Only few YouTube channels for the Maldives product area are locally published by the resorts. The majority of competitors are running global sites with their hotel group. But first and foremost, a local YouTube channel is recommended: The power of visual impressions is undeniable. Still, videos need to have a high variety of content, not the typical catalogue themes, but very specific events, activities and USPs. It is the diversity that matters and especially interviews and testimonials from guests and staff should be included. On YouTube, the amount of views and subscribers are the most important KPI. Already with a little effort, impressive results can be achieved.

3.2 Other Social Media platforms

In regards to other Social Media platforms like Google+, Instagram and Foursquare, almost all resorts share their indifference to the platforms and show almost no activity. Since Foursquare has low user interactions in general and is more focused on the “check in” to be shared and therefore used in conjunction with other platforms like Facebook, its Social Media relevance has a rather low priority anyway.

None of the competitors is running a local presence on Sina Weibo, Keixin YouKu, or any other Chinese Social Media platform for that matter. Only original Chinese resorts and those with specific interest in Chinese visitors operate appropriate global sites with the whole hotel group or are about to start respectively.

 

4. Future Local Social Media Strategy

Instead of relying on the global activities of the hotel group, the local luxury resorts should start off with their own local Social Media program, by expanding their already international Social Media presence to the most important local platforms of China: Sina Weibo and YouKu.

The dialog-concept with the Chinese users should follow the insights from chapter 2.1 and the overall activities and communication based on the results of the Social Media Benchmark in chapter 3 for the general recommendations and themes to focus on:

§  Provision of target group specific product information and themes, like focus topics on food and dining.

§  Focus should be on specific offers, events and activities, rather than the general and typical themes, creating a smooth balance.

§  Photos and videos should be balanced between authentic amateur and professional content.

§  Videos need to have a high variety of content themes, especially interviews and testimonials, with staff and guests.

§  The most popular themes for the respective target groups are Interviews, Honeymoon, Wedding, Location and Dining.

§  Implementation of celebrities as fans or followers through Influencer Marketing.

§  Hyper-targeting of niche markets with special Social Media platforms like P1. See chapter 11 for further information.

Last but not least, depending on budget considerations, additional thought should be given to the platforms RenRen and Kaixin. Establishing e presence on just one or both platforms has the potential to better meet the different challenges, demographics and reactions to marketing activities of the Chinese.

 

5 Classic Benchmark

Prices of the resorts are pretty much the same with most accommodations starting at 700 USD and stop at 12,000 USD. Reviews on TripAdvisor, across all resorts, universally mention the expensive food. This could be a point, where a resort could do a check on the prices and maybe adjust and test it accordingly, to see if it can set itself apart from the competition. There could also be more special deals with bargains for potential bookers. Having a close eye on what the competitors do in certain seasons of the year, can potentially avoid to fall behind. Or even better, being ahead of the competitors by setting up offers and discounts before others do, with appropriate marketing activities.

The aim to set oneself apart is of key essence, since there are no noticeable differences between the resorts. No real or clear USPs could be identified, the differences are mostly in nuances. But the guests appreciate very much the nature on and around the islands and the kids sector provides good offers for families. The focus on children and nature could have potential for future strategies. Shopping, especially for the Chinese, is a culturally important factor when travelling. But none of the resorts offers good shopping possibilities on their resorts.

The following chapters, based on the research results, cover a set of ideas that were developed to exemplify the potential and possibilities to realize a future local Social Media strategy. The overall aim are CRM actions suggested for luxury resorts, to stabilize the existing customer relations and win over new customers. These ideas are tailored to the Chinese target group with special focus on younger individuals.

 

6 Influencer Marketing

Influence plays an important role in business. Entrepreneurs are often influenced by the mentors they’ve learned from. Employees are influenced by the culture they work in. And buyers are influenced by the ones they trust, when it comes down to making critical purchasing decisions. This strategy for influencer marketing is based on cooperation with celebrities from different kinds of categories (music, sports, movies, TV), inviting them to the resort and producing content by documenting their stay with photos and videos, which is posted in the Social Media channels, like a kind of daily diary.

6.1 Definition of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is the practice of identifying and building relationships with individuals who have influence over a target audience of buyers.[18] Influencers are likely to be buyers themselves, as well as recommenders of products or services to their own audiences, both online and offline. Influencers may also be trusted third parties, such as bloggers, journalists, industry analysts, academics, or public figures.

These influencers help generate awareness and sway the purchasing decisions of those who seek out and value their expertise, read their blogs, converse with them in discussion forums, attend their presentations at industry events, and so on. Marketing to influencers essentially means building relationships and pitching stories to the influencers in a proactive, outbound fashion. Many influencers are eager for ideas and content to speak or write about. If they’re interested in, they will begin talking about a brand, its leaders, and/or products and services. Influencer Marketing builds credibility for a brand in the eyes of prospects because influencers are often trusted resources.

6.2 Benefits of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing can be a standalone effort or an effective way to amplify other marketing efforts. By marketing to a small group of individuals (influencers) a brand has the power to reach large groups of individuals (“influencees”). Understanding who a brand’s influencers are, helps to target campaigns and communications. Brands that gain credibility with influencers gain credibility with their end customers as well. Influencer Marketing can be a valuable and cost-effective way to increase brand awareness, establish and/or enhance the desired leadership position, drive more traffic to the brand website, generate more sales leads, increase the deal close rate and reduce the sales cycle time or ultimately impact the bottom line.[19]

6.3 Who is an Influencer?

Appinions defines an influencer as a person, brand or company who expresses a contextually relevant opinion that is meaningful enough to elicit action from others.[20]

There are three criteria used to identify influencers:

§  Opinions: Expressions of subjectivity, indicating a personal point-of-view, rather than mere distribution of fact

§  Context: The opinions are relevant to a user-defined topic, which is developed for a specific business need

§  Action: The opinion is meaningful enough to the opinion holder’s audience that they take action around it

6.4 What is an Influencer?

Influencer marketing can be part of a variety of marketing efforts:

§  Public Relations: Reaching out to journalists, bloggers or industry analysts to help generate awareness and help them to develop stories or content around a product or service

§  Digital Marketing: Create blogger programs or campaigns, utilizing bloggers for content creation, endorsements, to host contests or promotions, or to amplify marketing messages

§  Advertising: Featuring of celebrities, bloggers or prominent product advocates in advertising

§  Community Management: Content creation based on topics of interest to influencer networks

 

7 Sport Activities

7.1 Insights

Original sports from Europe or North America are very popular and mostly predominant in Asia.[21] Even if sport does not belong to favorite leisure activities for Asian travelers nonetheless there is a high potential in creating a new strategy in this direction. The purpose here is not to have such a nice offering to guests during the whole year but an increase of brand awareness, word-of-mouth activities and content creation throughout Social Media. A peg on which to hang sport activities are sport idols as influencers. Particularly sport idols have an outstanding status throughout their Asian locals in the past and present.[22] This in combination with a proper Social Media promotion will lead to the desired purpose.

7.2 Idea

The idea is to present sport activities and/or competitions as an event supported by influencers. They can be invited depending on favored travel seasons of the target group. Starting with a promotion on selected platforms, including information on most important questions as follows: Which kind of sport event does take place and when? Who is the influencer? Which kind of award or prize can be achieved? For the winner three free nights in any of the brand hotels or resorts worldwide or a day in company with a sport celebrity?

A possible scenario could be that guests have to register to the event through a Social Media platform. In a first step, usernames can be gathered for later promotion activities, then professional pictures and short clips of the event will be produced and uploaded to a photo album. The content of the (motion-) pictures has to illustrate the emotional experience of the guests. Staff and guests have to be interviewed for short testimonials. Short clips have to contain appropriate music. Individual guests can be linked on pictures by their usernames. As a result the pictures taken by the resort stuff appear on a guest’s newsfeed or pinwall. The purpose here is to let the guests do the word-of-mouth marketing through their networks, by shares, tweets, likes and comments.

On the other side there has to be an opportunity for guests to upload their own pictures through Instagram or Pinterest. This is important to stimulate the interaction between guests and the respective resort. When there is a small sport competition, a permanent ranking list can be implemented as well. Participants can always see their status and show them to their friends by sharing.

7.3 Communication

Content creation by guests and the resort increases the brand awareness and widens the circle of potential target groups among family members and friends, as they mainly are the first contact to receive hotel information and recommendations, as described before.

Aside from relaxing and lying on the beach, the Social Media public shall see that you can also get fun and emotional experiences and it’s the fun, the experience and action that can be transported emotionally by professional photographs of such an event.

 

8. Martial-Arts & Calligraphy

8.1 Insights

In general martial arts have a long tradition and high value throughout Asia. There, it is mainly about the balance of Yin & Yang, the meditative aspect and to bring in line your body and soul.[23] Referring to the target group there are different types in option, e.g. Kung Fu and the martial arts of shaolin monks.[24]

Apart from martial arts another interesting meditation experience could be calligraphy, which has a meditative character in the way of how it is performed by Thich Nhat Hanh.[25] It has a strong history and the meditative usage inspires many people.[26]

8.2 Idea

The idea is bringing together the common spa experience with the meditative character of martial arts and/or calligraphy as a new USP. It is a chance for guests from other parts in the world to get in contact with another culture and the Chinese guests will find something that makes them feel at home, even if they don’t make use of it.

8.3 Communication

The USP can be proposed through Social Media channels, with posts of influencers, event announcements and advertising pictures of guests. They might like to see themselves in action or specific sport suites. Organized photo-shootings in a sundown atmosphere on the beach might be very impressive for those who want to share it with their Social Media friends in order to get likes and comments. It is an opportunity for content creation with a topic that distinguishes from the competition.

 

9. Karaoke Sunset Cruiser

9.1 Insights

Asians love Karaoke. In China it is also called KTV (Karaoke television) or Kala ok and especially for them it is an important part of their culture. They go with friends, family or colleagues to a karaoke bar. Usually they rent a private room per hour. Some venues are small and inexpensive, while others are extravagant, multi-floored, mirrored and chandeliered palaces. In the room there is a couch, two microphones and a screen showing music videos and the song’s lyrics. They can order beverages and foot or help themselves from a buffet. The Chinese will spend hours and hours alone in a Karaoke bar, perfecting a repertoire of songs that they can sing to impress their friends at the next gathering.[27]

9.2 Idea

Karaoke events are loud and should not disturb the other guests. Therefore offering Cruising Tours for Chinese guests with a Karaoke facility on board is the preferred and unique choice. The boat leaves at sunset or at night and should be booked in advance. As Chinese like to sing Karaoke in the early and late evening it is perfect to combine singing and dining. Customers can additionally book food and beverages in buffet form or with a private cook/barkeeper onboard.

9.3 Communication

Communication of events of this special kind is must via Sina Weibo and other Chinsese Social Media platforms, with photos showing the guests singing and dancing on sunset, in the background only the Indian Ocean. Guests should get the possibility of uploading their private amateur photos and videos of their Karaoke trip. It is also possible to create a competition on the platforms for the best singer under the Maldivian sun. Once established, pictures will be fed in by the visitors.

 

10. Luxury Retail on Location

10.1 Insights

The market for apparel and accessories accounts for about 53bn Euros in 2011 which is a ca. 30% of the luxury market in total.[28] Luxury goods sales gain a year-on-year real value gain of 3% (as of 2012) and have exponential growth estimation for the upcoming years in emerging markets like the Asia Pacific. In fact China is the world's second largest consumer market for luxury goods followed by Japan.[29]

There is an increasing numbers of travelling high-end consumers from China, +28% from 2008 to 2012.[30] Asian airports are already up to 40% funded by fees from retailing luxury brands. The increasing demand for luxury goods and the enhanced affordability of luxury goods in the Asia Pacific already demands special treatment for VIP customers and heavy buyers.[31]

The Asia Pacific luxury market is led by western luxury brands for apparel and accessories as well as beauty and cosmetics. Top Brands like Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Rolex, Giorgio Armani, Burberrys, Hermès and Louis Vuitton are the most popular western luxury brands in China, as described in the China Luxury Market Study 2012 by Bain & Company. With a strong luxury market and a growing aspirational middle class Chinese travelers make up a big target group for luxury retail shopping and advertising at their respective travelling destinations.

10.2 Idea

The resort could provide luxury goods for retail shopping on location and selected luxury goods are placed at the disposal of the guests. Additionally, on location fitting for the time of residence as well as exclusive deals for a set time period are offered to the guests.

They may acquire special and exclusive keepsakes on their vacation at the resort. Such measures have several emotional benefits for the guests and provide better connection points for future customer retention management. The positive synergy effects of both brand images provide a strengthened base for means of advertising and attention, especially in the realms of digital marketing.

In general online and Social Media cooperation between luxury brands and luxury resorts are recommended. On location retail of luxury brands also provides several ways of Social Media attention either by guest involvement via user generated content or by several types of documentation on respective hotel and resort outlets.

10.3 Communication

Both content creation by guests and the resort increases the brand awareness and widens the circle of the potential target group, among family members and friends, as they mainly are the first contact to receive hotel information and recommendation. The Social Media public can participate in the guests luxury stay at the resort by the usual means of Social Media publishing, but emotionally charged by the respective luxury brand values, fashion and or lifestyle statements that are highly valued by supporters and followers of the respective brands.

Guests might like to see themselves in a specific dress at the dinner or experiencing exclusive offerings and products, and want to share that with their friends via Social Media channels, in order to get likes and comments.

Brand affiliations make for a specific targeting of audiences as represented by the respective brand. Such allows for a more precise Social Media targeting and also brings the benefit of synergy effects like an enlarged target group and added emotional brand values that resonate back on the own Social Media appearances, values and aspirations.

Enviable exclusive deals and experiences with luxury fashion and lifestyle goods make strong statements envied by the target audience making a trip to the resort even more desirable. Furthermore the guests are empowered to create user generated content by stating luxury goods in photos and through Social Media activity per se, liking the represented luxury brands.

All this can of course be promoted online and documented by professional photographs and through fashion and lifestyle themed events featuring the respective luxury brands.

 

11. Hyper-targeting

11.1 Insights

According to the latest Hurun Report on The Chinese Luxury Traveler 2013, the China Rich List ranks China’s Dollar elite as 600 Dollar billionaires and more than 2.8 million Dollar millionaires in the First Tier Cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.[32] Their lifestyle review shows that they travel abroad 2.8 times a year at 20 annual vacation days and have 7.5 days of monthly business travels. But travel is not just for business, most notably it is also the number one leisure pursuit for China’s wealthy.

In the same way the internet is the most popular source of information, with the word of mouth from family, friends and business colleagues just ranking second, giving Social Media a key role in influencing China’s rich. Especially microblogging is most popular among women and unsurprisingly the younger, more digitally-native generation of the newly wealthy individuals.

11.2 Idea

A specialized and very exclusive Social Media platform, P1 is an invite-only platform serving as a private Social Network for China’s elite, focused on the top 10% of Chinese earners. Today, the platform consists of more than 2 million individuals, mainly from Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and other First and Second Tier cities. Members of the platform share an international lifestyle, common values and interests and can meet like-minded individuals, expand business networks and share experiences.

P1 hosts events, parties and social activities for its members in Beijing and Shanghai every month and for those who would like to upgrade their membership P1 offers a VIP Membership with a VIP Card. The idea is to collaborate with P1 to deliver interesting and exclusive experiences and events throughout the network, where VIP card holders can enjoy discounts and exclusive offers with the resort and other possible cooperation partners through the combination with other Marketing activities.

As the leading private community for China’s rising elite of the younger, more digitally-native generation of the newly wealthy individuals, these promotion activities target only trend forward and culturally influential young professionals within an exclusive community of trendsetters. This special niche market is therefore a great opportunity in the social communication to directly reach out to the absolute desired core target group, increasing thereby the Brand Awareness and Transactions via the proposed special Social Media Promotions.

 

12. Conclusion

One size doesn't fit all on Social Media: Content and interactions must be adapted to different Social Media platforms while retaining the 360° brand to make sense in the context of the specific Social Media platforms and this requires tailoring content and interactions to every target group.[33]

Still, Social Media interactions are often one-off conversations. Instead they require targeted answers, analogous as a customer or prospect asking a question of a sales or customer service. One may point out that one of the biggest advantage on Social Media is the continuous content creation by a resort and its guests. It’s not only about the stimulation it’s about keeping the interactivity alive between both sides.

Aside from that, it is always important not to lose sight of the corporate identity. How does it look like? How is the corporate culture described? The core values must be projected and the self-image has to be omnipresent, spanning like an umbrella, over all Social Media activities.

The Social Media usage behavior is changing permanently in reference to services, trends, data security or devices. So it is important to always keep an eye on the market and technology. By following the development constantly there is a high chance to act in a appreciate time frame, if a big change is coming along the way. Instead of running after a relevant development it is usually better to be a part of it right from the start. But then again, only when it fits into the context of the overall strategy.

Last but not least Social Media doesn't exist isolated: It must be integrated with the rest of the marketing and business interactions across owned, third party, and Social Media platforms, both online and offline.

 

Christopher Adjei, Christof Diefenbach, Eskandar Farsimadan, Jonas Herdt and Jasmin Rothenbücher, 26th February, 2014

 

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All listed internet links within this work were validated until the 26th February, 2014.