Olivia resides in Shanghai, China and works as the marketing manager for Brandigo, a global marketing and communications agency. She manages the company social media accounts, including WeChat, as well as the blog, content offers and promotion. She also manages the marketing and communications for Shanghai based free fitness community, FitFam, a volunteer-led organization with over 3,000 active members, and currently over 6,000 WeChat followers.
Olivia is recognized for her knowledge of marketing and branding in China; she was featured in Forbes and grew a WeChat account from 2,000 to 5,500 followers in just 6 months.
Today she shares with Coachify her top seven tips on using WeChat as a branding tool.
1. WeChat is a chatting app: engage, tell a story.
Branding in China is becoming more popular. In China or in Hong Kong when you are outside there are bright neons and signs everywhere. However, people are not paying attention to that, they don’t read advertisements on the windows anymore – everyone is looking at their phone. Especially young, Chinese consumers nowadays want to disconnect from all the noise of advertisement.
We are getting so focused on telling our own stories and getting involved in other people stories – just look at your WeChat moments. Why would brands be not doing it? Why would brand not tell their stories to better connect with people? The key question is: how can brands better connect with their customers?
Storytelling and personalization are the answers. WeChat is a chatting app, people are expecting it to be interactive, and personalized, that’s what they crave from this platform. They expect to receive content that they can relate to and connect with on a personal level. Elijah Whaley, CMO at PARKLU makes a great point in this article about the digital consumer in China – your WeChat, and other mobile channels for that matter, should be fun, engaging and useful.
2. Make it about people.
Data from Tencent shows that people prefer to see and share content about their lives and those close to them. Reach out to your community, your coworkers, your customers and get them involved.
One of the most popular articles posted from the FitFam account was an article announcing an event in partnership with a women’s active wear brand. The article highlighted many of the reasons why people find the community so special, and what the core values mean to many of the young women in the community. It reached people on a personal, and emotional level, and ended with a call to action. It also included user-generated content in the form of photos that were taken of actual members of the community.
Other well-performing content comes from the FitFam partnership with Creative Humans writer Eduoard Bellin who interviews members of the FitFam community in-depth. These stories provide a window into the life of a friend, a workout partner – someone that people feel connected to and have an interest in learning about because he/she is part of their daily life.
3. KOLs are a must.
This is especially true for B2C brands. KOLs or influencers are a key strategy for many brands. They’ve amassed their followers through blogging, thought-leadership, as well as leveraging their celebrity status. KOLs are usually well-trusted and have a much more personal relationship with their fans. As this Boston Consulting Group article states; In China, shopping is about more than just the transaction. It’s about entertainment, discovery, and social engagement with friends, celebrities, and internet influencers.
Chinese consumers trust influencers, and are not as put-off by sponsored content as much as their Western counterparts. In fact, many KOLs have done such a good job building up their fan base and making a niche for themselves that many have their own online stores on Taobao and Tmall where they are making millions selling products.
Make sure you set the right expectations in terms of your budget and do your research carefully before selecting a KOL to work with your brand.
LinkedIn is not only a powerful tool that modern recruiters use to source candidates, but also an emergent employer branding platform that many companies have started to appreciate.
Read on to learn how the recruiters, HR and employer branding specialists from the different parts of the world generate stronger candidates’ pipelines by using content marketing and storytelling.
1.Introduce Social Media / LinkedIn Training
Did you know that employees have 10 times more connections on average than a company has followers? To leverage your employees personal brand and network introduce Social Media / LinkedIn training.
For example, Dell’s HR strategy including social media training resulted in higher quality hires, lower turnover and better engagement rates for Dell.
“We have trained to date over 16,000 employees! We also train our summer interns as part of their development and introduction to Dell. The biggest success is the ongoing focus on the program including monthly power hours by topic (how to deal with trolls, what is the deal with SnapChat, etc.) as well as the revisiting and updating of the content. The opportunity we have is to continue to have executives model this activity and behaviour.” – says Jennifer Jones Newbill, Senior Manager, Global Candidate Attraction, Engagement and Experience at Dell.
Click HERE to read our case study About social media and recruiting with Jennifer Jones Newbill from Dell.
2. Empower your employees to tell the story about the company
Of course, they need to love their work in a first place, and the post should come from them, you cannot simply order a praising article. Readers will only spend their precious time on reading and sharing authentic stories. Pay attention to employees who already blog or vlog. Often those who relocate will be interested in documenting they journey.
3. Enchant your staff
Delight the staff with a small gesture or help when it is not expected, for example offering them flexible work arrangements or even showing that you listen, and you care:
“When you enchant people, your goal is not make money from them or get them to do what you want, but to fill them with delight.”
“(…) in a world of mass media, social media, and advertising media, it takes more than instant shallow, and temporary relationships to get the job done.”
Guy Kawasaki, Enchantment
4. Communicate your innovative HR policies
Challenge yourself (and your top management) to introduce a HR policy that could be shared as an interesting story.
Impossible? Here is the update from BrewDog:
“Thrilled to find out today that BrewDog have been shortlisted as a finalist in the 2018 Scottish Top Employers for Working Families Awards, in the ‘Best for Innovation’ category, for our Pawternity Leave initiative! (…)”
Seems standard but wait, did they misspell “paternity”? Or…
5. Measure success on your LinkedIn company page
Even if your company already has its LinkedIn page, you might strongly consider setting up a new page for your geographical region.
A simple company page is free yet give you some visitor demographics and some invaluable metric tools such as updates engagement and followers acquired in a specific month, week or even day.
Followers acquired are only included for sponsored updates. You could still measure the success of your organic (not paid) updates, by looking at the followers acquired on a given day if you post no more than one update per day.
This article was inspired by the companies and experts from Scotland, Germany, Czech Republic, Australia, and China.
What are your favorite company updates or ideas for using LinkedIn as employer branding tool? Reach out on LinkedIn or Facebook; we would love to hear about the examples from other countries.
From the rural Pacific Northwest to the middle of a concrete jungle, Olivia Plotnick has made it her mission to never stop challenging herself to reach new horizons. Making the decision to move to China by herself several years ago she has quickly learned how to build a personal network from scratch, become recognized for her knowledge of marketing and branding in China, get featured in Forbes and grow a WeChat account from 2,000 to 5,500 followers in just 6 months.
Olivia, what is the story behind your move to China?
I started studying Chinese at St. Mary’s High School. It was the first high school in Oregon to offer Chinese program. The summer after my first year of studying we had an opportunity to come China and I was one of the seven students selected. We travelled all around China during the holiday, it was my first trip outside of the States. It was the Summer 2007, and we went to Beijing, Henan, and the southern part of China, Kunming in the Yunnan province. It was so different from anything I had known or been exposed to before. After that experience, I started thinking that this is the path that I wanted to follow. I studied Chinese and business throughout college and I completed my final six months of college in Beijing, at Beijing Language and Culture University. I moved there by myself and enrolled in an intensive language program. The classes were only taught in Chinese and I was the only American in my class, with no other native English speakers. I think I cried a lot (laugh) and I was a little bit miserable for about five months, but by the sixth month I was loving it: I have this distinctive memory of riding in a cab and passing all these incredible buildings in Beijing. The energy from the city was electrifying. I went back to Oregon, graduated and found a job at an international adoption agency. I was helping prospective parents through the first 1 to 2 years of the adoption process. I was also helping to update the organization’s website to drive more traffic and liaising with our Beijing office. While this role was a huge learning opportunity for me, I knew it wasn’t my career path. I really wanted to move back to China and pursue a career in international business.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Lao-tzu, Chinese Philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)
In 2011 I quit my job in SAP recruitment in London and moved to China. Little did I know what was going to happen, but I hoped that the relocation would help me change my career.
I didn’t love my job, but I didn’t strongly dislike it either. As everywhere, it had its rainy Monday mornings when commuters were rushing through the Liverpool Station. Everyone seemed stressed out and unhappy about starting a new week in the City. However, as soon as I would get inside the office and make my coffee while chatting with colleagues, it didn’t seem that bad. ‘I can do it, I can get through another week, if I only survived Monday’ I would say to myself. There was also the thrill of headhunting, the constant buzz in the office, and a lot of laughs. Life was good and the closer to the weekend the better it was becoming. Around Wednesday, emails from my friends were starting to circulate as we were preparing for another fabulous weekend in London. It rarely happens that we are entirely happy or unhappy in our job, and I guess that makes any decision harder. When is the cutting off moment when we say: “I’m done with it and ready for a new role”? Once we have reached that stage another obstacle appears – we don’t have clarity on what we WANT.
I realized that what bothered me the most about my job was the fact that I didn’t feel challenged anymore. I didn’t want to live only for the weekend. I thought about moving to internal HR, as that was one of the most common “career transitions” for agency recruiters. I was also asking myself when was the last time I was happy at my job? The answer was three years ago, working as an executive search consultant in the energy sector. With that in mind, I was considering going back to the executive search. Then my boyfriend got a job offer in Beijing. We discussed three options: a long-distance relationship, me staying in London and trying to job hunt in Beijing, or finally quitting my job and relocating together. From a recruiter perspective, I knew that being in the right location could make a huge difference. Firstly, my CV with London and the UK number on it could go into the “bin folder” in a matter of seconds. Secondly, meeting hiring managers face to face is a small difference that makes the all the difference.
While discussing relocation, we also decided to get married. Three weeks later, on a Monday morning, I was rushing through Liverpool Station to work. I was going straight from the airport and I asked my manager if we could have a meeting. He knew I just came back from Las Vegas, he wasn’t particularly surprised about the marriage decision. However, he didn’t expect the news that I was now moving to Beijing.
I was moving to a country that I haven’t visited before. I didn’t know anyone there and I didn’t speak the language. A country that scores at the top of the most difficult places to live and work in the world. The goal was to find a new career path and I was excited about it, especially about the fact that everything was going to be different.
What happened in China?
Originally from Sweden, Elsa Medin relocated to Shanghai four years ago to study Chinese. She decided to stay in China and did her bachelor degree in international business. With her motto being “If I cannot find the path, I will create it!” she launched Spare Leash right after graduation. Elsa has a dog named Betsy, a schnauzer adopted in Shanghai in October 2016. She also fosters dogs.
Erin Leigh studied public relations, advertising and applied communication at Western Michigan University. She came to China after graduating from college. She has been living in Shanghai for over five years, working in PR and marketing, before co-founding Spare Leash. Erin has Oliver (labrador mix), Betty (mini schnauzer), and Max (terrier mix). They used to be foster animals, but she ended up adopting them. Erin usually fosters one more dog every month. She also rescues kittens; she bottle-feeds them and looks after them while searching for adopters.
Spare Leash is dedicated to making life easier for pets and pet owners by providing loving and trustworthy pet sitters in Shanghai. Their services are safe, reliable and cage free. The company was founded in Shanghai, in 2016. In the same year, Spare Leash was awarded by Time Out Love Shanghai for Lifestyle Service of the Year.
How Spare Leash started?
Elsa: It began in 2016 when I wanted to adopt a dog from the street in Shanghai. I was still a student, and I was going traveling for a whole month. None of my friends could take care of him. Finally, I didn’t adopt this dog. However, I started to think how we can all help each other looking after pets when we travel. I had an idea, and I spent a few months thinking about Spare Leash and how I can make that happen. I had mutual friends with Erin. She was facilitating pets’ adoptions in Shanghai.
Erin: One day, Elsa texted me out of the blue, saying: “I need to talk to you. Meet me for lunch”. We met at one of my favorite restaurants, Kommune. Elsa told me about her idea. It was also a part of her university project.
Elsa: I had a class called Entrepreneurship, and that’s how I started to look at it from a business perspective. My initial idea was a pet hotel, but I wasn’t 100% happy with that and kept on brainstorming. I went to Australia for a month, and because I didn’t adopt the dog, I was thinking about it during the whole trip. I was doing my research, writing down my ideas and a business plan. When I came back, I met Erin.
Erin: Elsa nearly had a business plan and the avenue laid out, as well as the name and the logo. Right away I said: YES. The very next day we were in my living room, my three dogs were running around, and we were starting the business. It was around early April. I had just quit my job in PR.
Elsa: I was in the last semester of my Bachelor’s degree majoring in business. I had in my final exams. My final thesis was about the WeChat business, so I was going to many business events and learning from hands-on entrepreneurs.
Erin: We first built a website, which took a month. Then we had a launch party – a charity event co-organized with Best Friends China.
Elsa: We got our first client during this event. The first interviews with sitters happened in Erin’s apartment.
How to volunteer and engage with a local community during your busy life abroad? #AddingValue series
Tiziana Figliolia is the Sr. Vice President, Global Business Operations and Finance at PTC. She is also the President and Board Member of International Professional Women Association (IPWS) in Shanghai, and a speaker on the topic of gender diversity, equality and women empowerment (Women TEDx Shanghai Salon, Shanghai International Forum on Women’s Development).
Tiziana is a global leader with 20 years of experience working with technology companies publicly traded and startups, with a wide range of strategy, planning, finance, customer support, sales & operations, R&D, and business partnering related responsibilities. As a native Italian and after graduating in Economics, Tiziana realized that moving to the USA was the right choice to springboard her career. Being a naturally curious and open minded person, Tiziana relocated a few times with her family and progressed her career around the world. Currently, she lives with her husband and son in Shanghai, a city, which she finds the most international and cosmopolitan from all the international cities.
International Professional Women’s Society is a non-profit organization that provides professional women with different platforms to connect and foster personal and professional growth. IPWS has a community reach of more than 2000 women.
Tiziana talks with Coachify about her motivations to volunteer, engage with a local community and empower professional women, as well as how it helped her to live a fulfilled life. One of the lessons we can learn from her is: choose a volunteering project or community that resonates with your life vision and passion.
Tiziana, how did you become interested in IPWS?
After working for some time in China, and completing my MBA, I felt there was a void in my life, which needed to be filled. I’ve accomplished a lot professionally, I have a great family, but I needed more to fulfill my purpose. More than the traditional work/life balance, I believe in living an integrated life where professional, personal (family) and social (giving back to the community) are interconnected and a measure of who we are, what we do and how we accomplish our life goals. These are three very fundamental parts of who I am. At the time I felt that the social aspect was incomplete. I asked myself: How do I give back? How do I make an impact on the community? I started to look around, and when my friend Margot invited me to an IPWS event, I joined. I enjoyed the crowd and the ambiance of the event and worked my way to join the Board of Directors and become the President of the organization, now for the past four years. IPWS was and still is an excellent fit in terms what I was trying to achieve.
Maasa, can you please tell us about yourself?
I love being able to connect with talent digitally and in-person and especially leveraging social media to tell a story behind some of the jobs that I recruit for.
I’ve been recruiting for the last 5.5 years, working across various industries ranging from healthcare, IT, marketing, creative, retail in both agency and corporate settings. I’ve been fortunate to recruit for many top brands & companies including Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, and Expedia.
Social media allows recruiters to connect with prospects in a more meaningful, authentic, and engaging ways than the traditional “submit and pray” system. For me, this is the most exciting part of my job as a social recruiter. I especially love showing off “behind the scenes” content and information to talent – whether that be fun group photos of the team or writing and sharing a blog on the “human” aspect of each job, team or organization.
Your LinkedIn summary is very impressive. It has all the “right ingredients” of a powerful summary, which are: storytelling, description of what you and your company do, call to action, keywords, and imagery. How did you come up with it?
Thank you! You know, in any profession, whether you’re a sales person, marketer or an engineer – there are tons of other people who do the same job you do. If you look across my network, I’m sure you can find many recruiters who have worked for the same organization or have held similar roles and I have. Given that situation, you have to figure out a way to stand out from the herd in an authentic and memorable way.
When I wrote this particular summary of mine, I thought about few things: 1) Who am I and what is my “brand”? 2) What are things I’m particularly good at? 3) What type of stuff gets me really excited?
The first part is really important – knowing your personal brand. Beyond being a recruiter at “company A” or being a specific industry recruiter, I have my own “flavor” or brand that I represent regardless of the company I work for or team I’m on. You have to have clarity & consistency in that brand & messaging.
The second piece is also important because that’s what makes you unique and different – your superpower if you will. You definitely need to understand the value you bring to the table and be able to celebrate that differentiator.
Third is being able to articulate the area of passion. This is where I ideally like to build more of my career on, and I think it’s beneficial for others to know as well. I’d like to think this is the reason why you reached out to me for an interview. I think overall you open up more doors by being transparent and letting others know what drives you.
Yolanda vom Hagen is originally from Düsseldorf, Germany. Her photographic main focus is on interior, industrial and documentary photography. She studied photography and design at the University of Applied Science Dortmund and the Beijing Film Academy. She was commissioned as the official press photographer of the German Pavilion at the Expo 2010 in Shanghai. Yolanda is fluent in German, Chinese, and English, which enables her to work independently in most parts of the world.
Yolanda sees herself as a preservationist of humanity’s current lifestyle and being. Her vision is to capture this generation’s contemporary environment for future generations.
Yolanda, when did you discover your passion for photography?
When I was a little kid my mother gave me a camera to take some pictures while I traveled with my brother on our own. After we would come home, my parents would develop the pictures and I would have the memories from the trip. The preservation of my experiences gave me the ability to share with my parents what I experienced, seen, and done. I did not have an outlet for my deep need for sharing, but taking pictures gave me the ability to preserve something not only from my life but also from others’ lives. It became a way to communicate. For my eighteenth birthday, my father surprisingly gave me a proper camera. I started to play around with it. When I was nineteen I needed to decide what I want to study after high school. I looked at architecture, psychology, and photography and then tested all of them during my summer vacation.
How did you test them?
In Germany, we have something called Volkshochschule which is a summer school/ workshop program. I participated in one photography workshop. Another workshop was about architecture. I also interviewed an architect and I asked him about his job.
He said: “There are so many people studying architecture nowadays that you will end up behind IKEA’s desk selling furniture.” This, plus my fear of math contributed to my decision to choose photography rather than architecture. I thought this would give me the ability to meet, communicate and work closely together with people, which is what a psychologist also does… However, photography gives access to a variety of different topics and fields I can work in. My father had ten or fifteen jobs in his life. I thought photography might give me the option to travel, see different cultures, work with different people and update myself to fulfill my need of learning and steady creative and personal development.’
Your father had so many jobs throughout his life. You picked up one job, which has so many jobs in it.
Exactly. There are so many fields I can work in. It took me some time to figure out my skills set in photography. The studying aspect made me really confused about which field of photography I want to work. I’ve failed a lot. Every single semester I had to redo my work two or three times. Only interior photography was OK. And there … we are coming back to architecture.
A multi-passionate entrepreneur, Sunny Gandara is a life design coach and a certified health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Sunny, a native of Norway, is a professionally trained cook and holds a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell as well as a professional Culinary Certificate from the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist through NASM, a Certified Wine Educator and Specialist of Spirits through the Society of Wine Educators, and a holder of the DWS Diploma through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET).
A huge part of her work is vegan lifestyle coaching and blogging. She talks with Coachify about her fascinating journey of going vegan and helping others to do so.
Sunny, how did you become a vegan lifestyle coach and blogger?
To me, becoming a vegan lifestyle coach and blogger was the result of having worked across three other industries first; I started out in the music industry where I worked as an international marketing and publicity director and traveled the world with celebrities, to becoming a professionally trained chef and later on a wine educator and specialist. I had my own catering company, Fork and Glass for five years, and while I loved both food and wine, I still felt that some aspects of my interests, skill set and experience were not utilized to the fullest.
Then in between, I decided to compete in amateur body building shows for fun as a way to get my body back after several years of eating too much and moving too little, I was inspired to get my personal trainer certificate. A lot of women would contact me wanting me to coach them, but also on nutrition. I didn’t feel qualified to handle the nutrition part, so I was inspired to seek out nutrition schools and landed upon the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I got certified as a health coach through them, and just before I joined I had decided to go vegan. I am first and foremost vegan for the animals, but I was thrilled to learn about all the health benefits of this lifestyle too. I found that a lot of people had healed themselves from serious health conditions through eating a whole food, plant based eating and was what inspired a lot of people seeking out this lifestyle. As a professionally trained chef, I started veganizing a lot of my traditionally animal based recipes, and gained a pretty big following, and from there on had the idea of helping others discover this wonderful way of living. A vegan lifestyle is not just limited to your diet and eating plant foods, it’s also living a cruelty free, compassionate and conscious life.
Adding Values Series: How to add volunteering to your busy life abroad?
Every day, I work in a very normal business environment. While it has its perks, there are many days where, although I am busy, it doesn’t quite feel like I am saving the world. Or even making a small contribution. Although I have nice co-workers and enjoy the actual work, I also want to feel like I am doing something meaningful. Making a difference in someone’s life who really needs it the most without just quitting my job and moving to Africa. While some are called to that, I know that that is not always the answer.
Therefore, I decided to do something. I am really passionate about anti-human trafficking and I have been involved in several organizations wherever I have lived in relation to this cause. Just recently, I have been asked to go on a trip to India with one of the organizations to empower women who were trapped in slavery (now who, fortunately, are rescued) via photography. To help bring them back to life in a creative outlet and feel normal again.
While I was honored to be asked, I thought, where am I going to get that money? And should I go with work? Is it the right timing? What if I am too tired to get on that long flight right after Christmas break? Will I be ready?
Financially speaking, they recommended for me to fundraise the money. They gave me some good advice and while it’s something new for me, I am excited to see where this goes.
- I created a gofundme page. You can see it here (www.gofundme.com/heatherschnacke) and shared why I want to go to India through this organization, and how I can help. I use videos, photos, and text to tell my story to hopefully inspire those to give – I really want people to see the importance of my role and cause.
- I thought of other ways to raise money – starting with things I am good at and passionate about. I asked a local gym if I could host a zumbathon for free at their place and all of the costs from the people who sign up would go towards this trip. They said yes! Most places are so happy to help a good cause. You can join us: https://www.facebook.com/events/666379836860502/
- I asked for sponsorship. I told my boss about the cause and she was so impressed that she suggested that I share with the company and that they would probably help! I did not expect that reaction. I have also asked another company that in exchange for articles that they would sponsor me – I presented it as a win-win case (which it is) and I meet with them this week as they are very keen to the idea.
There many other things you can do for causes like auctions, small parties, or online contests, but these are just to name a few. Fundraising and sponsoring can be quite scary and intimidating topics, but in my experience thus far, I have been pleasantly surprised. People want to help because they feel that same way you do in regards to contributing. And they can contribute through you. Once I started doing this process and asking for support, I became energized by the whole process and now feeling ready to go as ever!
I would be honored if you read more of my story here – please donate if you can and share this page. It would mean a lot to me and the women in India. (www.gofundme.com/heatherschnacke)
And let me know what you decide to raise money for – share it on this blog and we can support one another. That’s what it’s all about, right?
Written by Heather Schnacke