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CIC China Internet Consumer watch 2014 July: Brand buzz offers lessons for product placement

 Industry Watch 8 August 2014

In the wake of hit movie like Transformer 4, more and more brands are considering or planning on product placement. Netizens were not only talking about the movie itself but also paid attention and offered opinions on brands’ product placements in the movie. CIC tracked the buzz about brands in the massively successful movie Transformer 4 which offers some lessons for those brands considering product placement: 


Nike vs. Adidas, the Battle for the World Cup “Adaptive Marketing” Crown

 Industry Watch 5 August 2014

While teams battled for the World Cup, the marketing war between the two sports giants Nike and Adidas battled off the football pitch in a social media marketing war. Both has casualties. Adidas’ posted  an unseemly tweet around Suarez’ bite. Nike suffered when all its high profile spokespersons’ teams bowed out early (again) and netizens raised the specter of the “Nike Curse”. While Adidas could claim victory (and did) with two teams in the final, Nike was seen as getting the last shot with Götze kicking the winning goal in pair of Nike Magist shoes. In the end, both brands had highs and both were also taken to task by netizens so it is difficult to declare a clear winner in this social media marketing war.


Viral Video Cinema Vol.19: Celebrity Collection

 Industry Watch 2 July 2013

Thanks to commercials and endorsement, wide screen (movie theatre) is not the only way we could see big movie stars. As a trendy of micro movie / viral video marketing, invite celebrity participate in shooting become kind popular and attractive. In this collection, we hope below 6 videos could give you an inspiration of how could brand leverage the power of celebrities.


Viral Video Cinema Vol.18: In the Name of Fairy Tales and Magic

 Industry Watch 8 June 2013

This week’s Viral Video Cinema is under the spell of “fairytales and magic”.
In our dreams, toys can walk around, wolves love Oreos, dragons fill the skies, fairies and witches are everywhere, and you might be Hogwarts’ finest magician. Today, we’ll bring you to this wonderland and show you how brands can utilize fairytales and magic in their marketing.


WeChat: Much More Than Just “Social”

 Industry Watch 19 April 2013

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a show on Thoughtful China about WeChat. Below is the video as well as transcript for my part. Check out the full episode here.
You might also want to check out our infographic for Weibo vs. WeChat and our updated social media landscape for China.
You can also follow CIC’s WeChat here:


“Creating a Buzz on Chinese TV” – CIC’s first contribution to Momentum Review by Kantar Media

 Industry Watch 6 July 2012

As new members of the Kantar family, we were honored to be invited to contribute to Kantar Media’s Momentum Review, and provide the Chinese element to their international perspective on media, monitoring and marketing.
When asked to contribute to the 10th edition, which is titled “The Screen Age and the Future of TV”, our own Senior Marketing Manager, Chander Guo, answered a few questions on how Chinese broadcasters use Sina Wiebo to interact with their viewers.


Sam to speak at 1st Asia Pacific Summit on Measurement

The Asia Pacific Summit on Measurement will take place between the 29th of February and 1st of March at the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong and is aimed at stimulating new thinking around the evaluation and measurement of public relations performance. The Asia Pacific Summit will include workshop sessions and speaking spots by senior communications professionals from across the region and beyond.


Weibo Increases the Frequency, Speed and Impact of Crises

Ogilvy PR and CIC’s White Paper, “Crisis Management in the Microblog Era”, uncovers unique characteristics of microblog-driven crises and suggests ways that brands can minimize the potential risks.
As the Chinese social media landscape matured in 2011, weibo (or the microblog) emerged as the source of most of the country’s most damaging and far-reaching crises; from the incendiary Guo Meimei/Red Cross saga, to billionaire investor Wang Gongquan’s eloping with his mistress, to corporate crises for both multinational and domestic brands.


CIC’s 2011 IWOM Retrospective: The Watch Compilation

 Industry Watch,The Weekly Buzz 14 February 2012

CIC’s IWOM Watch is a long running, monthly digest of exemplary case studies that reflect the dynamism and development of China’s unique digital culture. We pick out and analyze the month’s most significant online marketing campaigns, allowing you to listen, know, and participate in China’s unique digital community.


And so the next chapter begins…WPP’s Kantar Media to acquire CIC

I am thrilled to share the great news that CIC has agreed to be acquired by WPP’s Kantar Media. I look forward to taking social media and social business to the next level in China with our new partner.
More info below


Renren to Emphasize User Generated Content and Mobile Marketing in 2012

 Industry Watch 16 January 2012

In 2011, we witnessed the explosion of microblogging in China. However, while most of the attention was fixed on  Sina and Tencent Weibo, China’s top SNS are quietly making advancements in user experience and commercialization, particularly in terms of social advertising. Two particularly noteworthy SNS are the now publicly listed Renren (NYSE: RENN) and Tencent’s Pengyou. However, Pengyou has yet to embrace social business so it’s Renren, who campaigned  as “China’s Facebook” on it’s IPO roadshow, which offers greatest insight into upcoming commercialization trends for 2012.


CIC’s Thoughtful Approach to Weibo

It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that right now, “weibo” is the word on everyone’s lips, as the microblog is the hottest property in China’s digital landscape. Celebrities, fans, brands and consumers are coming together in what is the fastest growing community in China’s social space.
As ever in the Chinese social media market, there is more than one platform vying to be the “Twitter of China”. Sina Weibo is expanding its services to such a degree that such a moniker grossly underestimates the ways in which the platform is increasingly allowing advertisers to exert their brand identity and effectively own a slice of social media.


Luxury Brands’ Share of Microblog Buzz

 Industry Watch 13 September 2011

China currently sits second in the global, luxury consumer league table but HSBC fully expect usurp Japan’s first place within the year. This is a staggering rise to prominence in prestige consumption, particularly considering that in February of this year, CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets predicted top spot for China by 2020, then in April, US consulting firm McKinsey & Co. made a pre-2015 prediction.


The Most Buzzed Luxury Brands On China’s BBS

 Industry Watch 23 August 2011

As was recently uncovered by the collaborative research of CIC and GroupM Knowledge for the upcoming white paper, “The Voice of Luxury: Social Media and Luxury Brands in China”, Louis Vuitton was the most discussed brand during Q1 2011 within Chinese BBS buzz, a key battlefield for “earned media” in China. Chanel and Gucci were not too far behind.  For this analysis, we utilized CIC’s proprietary luxury buzz panel, analyzing around 360,000 BBS posts mentioning luxury brands and products each quarter, utilizing a taxonomy of over 70 brands.


IWOM Watch Special Edition – Are You Ready to Microblog?

 Industry Watch 26 April 2011

2011 IWOM Watch Microblog Special Edition
View more presentations from CIC

Below is an intro to our latest IWOM Watch on microblogging in China.


IWOM Mark No.65 (Vancl-wise, China Net Language Handbook, GLEAGLE Taobao Mall Store, Starbucks VIA, Douban Group Buy, Sina Weibo TV Ad, IWOM Roundtable)

 Industry Watch 19 April 2011

1). Shanghai Police Force Get Vancl-wise
Creating user generated copies of Vancl adverts, or “Vanclizing”, has become very popular on the Chinese internet. So much so that the model has been used by Shanghai’s police force as part of a campaign against fraud.

2). China Net Language Handbook


I will be a judge for the BEES AWARDS for international social media

 Industry Watch 24 January 2011

I am honored to participate in the Bees Awards, which bills itself as the first international social media marketing awards for communication professionals. This is actually the second edition, and I will be judging along with some pretty impressive names.
See the info below and contact the organizer if you think you have a campaign or platform worth including.


CIC and Sina Weibo microblog form a strategic partnership

 Industry Watch 1 December 2010

We are proud to announce our recent (November 15th) partnership with Sina, focusing on leveraging the content from their amazing Weibo microblog (AKA the ‘Twitter’ of China). The official Chinese press release is here. China has an incredibly complex and unique social media landscape, and this partnership demonstrates CIC’s commitment to working with leading stakeholders within the Chinese social media landscape to develop social media intelligence products and services.


PRESS RELEASE: Converseon and CIC Announce Partnership To Integrate Chinese Social Media Monitoring Capabilities

 Industry Watch 10 November 2010

I’m very pleased to formally announce our partnership with Converseon below. Converseon is doing good stuff in social business in North America and other markets and recognizes the value of having working with ‘best of breed’ partners like CIC to cover specialized markets like China. We’ve already done a number of projects together and I look forward to doing more.


CIC’s 4th Annual IWOM Summit: Talking About Social Business

 Industry Watch 7 September 2010

As we did in 2007, 2008 and 2009, CIC is once again is offering our IWOM Summit meetings with top executives from 25 different clients. For part of the 2010 summit, we will be reviewing the overall development of IWOM in China since we began CIC in 2004.  We are also introducing some concepts that we are quite excited about. Here’s a rough outline of what we will be covering.


IWOM WATCH June: World Cup online events

 Industry Watch 17 August 2010

In this IWOM Watch, we look at the “69 Jihad” incident that broke out on the Chinese Internet and triggered hundreds of thousands Internet users collectively scheduling attacks (spamming and tarnishing) on well-known forums and websites relating to Korean celebrities. The slogan of 69 Jihad, “NC don’t die, Jihad never ends” (NC: mentally ill, brain damaged), has become a piece of history in the Chinese Internet.



 Industry Watch 1 July 2010

The “group purchase” phenomenon is not new to the public, but “group purchase” sites in China have recently set off a new high tide. The basic concept of “group purchase” is that consumers can organize a group online to get “wholesale” prices from retailers or distributors. In this issue, we look at the large amount of “tuan gou” websites which have emerged in China, inspired by the success of – a reputable Western “group purchase” site.


A Quick Look at World Cup Buzz in China

 Industry Watch 18 June 2010

With the World Cup in full swing, let’s take a quick look at the buzz in China using our IWOM discover tool.

The World Cup Buzz peaked on the 28th May, with over 47% of the buzz was contributed by Sina Microblog (新浪微博). Together with World Cup themed buzz in Blogs, BBS, Video and Questions & Answers sites, buzz from social media was 3 times that of news articles.


IWOM WATCH APRIL: The Internet can be infinitely creative

 Industry Watch 20 May 2010

Innovation can be seen everywhere on the Internet, which requires brands to start thinking long term and act in a faster way. In this issue, we watched the emergence and the popularity of “Begging for XX” series. Netizens use these kinds of pictures to show their mood. And recently, Kaixin Restaurant has been attracting huge amounts of fans, thus holding great potential for brands to connect.


IWOM Watch 2nd Half year Review 2009

 Industry Watch 6 May 2010

CIC’s IWOM Watch Half Year Review covers some of the most notable topics from our IWOM Watch trend reports from July to December 2009.
The full report is available for download on Slideshare below:
IWOM Watch 2nd Half Year Review 2009
View more presentations from CIC .


IWOM WATCH MARCH: The power of netizens

 Industry Watch 30 April 2010

One of the most distinguishing features of social media in China is that Chinese netizens are unbelievably passionate about sharing, living and gossiping together online. In this issue, we observe how netizens bring into full play their initiative, wisdom and power. On Consumers’ Day, netizens exposed Toyota dealer’s “Threat Gate” incident through a video and incisively sarcastic rhymes, which effectively pushed Toyota into an even tougher situation after “Recall Gate.” Netizens’ complaints and petitions were taken seriously by the Guangdong authorities through their Internet-based platform. Millions and millions of netizens, as well as many organizations, answered the call to participate in the “Earth hour” event. In addition, McDonald’s new chicken wing campaign sparked hot participation. Finally, we take a look at BMW and Tencent launching their online Volunteer Relay Race for World Expo.


Finding Your Voice Online

 Industry Watch 29 April 2010

Recently, Philippe Lamy, VP of L’Oreal’s luxury division in China, wrote an article in AdAge China called L’Oreal Found Its Luxury Voice in Chinese Social Media. While I am biased as L’Oreal is a client of CIC, I do believe that it is very much worth a read as it details the actual process of how L’Oreal’s luxury division developed a social media strategy and found it’s voice online. Worth noting is that it was indeed a process…one of trial and error and “learn by doing.” The killer quote is:



 Industry Watch 14 April 2010

As I wrote(The Increasing Influence of Microblogs in China) a few weeks ago, we do see the increasing influence/uptake of the Sina Microblog platform. Below is an article from our IWOM watch trend report highlighting how China Eastern is using the service to engage customers through their stewardess’ (and I guess stewards’) accounts.


Recent Reads in China Digital and IWOM/Social Media , April 12, 2010

 Industry Watch 12 April 2010

Is Social Media Research a Replacement for Traditional Market Research?
Though I would like it to be so, I think not. However, social media research is a nice complement to traditional market research for traditional consumer insight. It also provides the additional benefit of providing context (who is talking, where the talk is, and the nature/style of the talk) that can’t be matched by any other approach and should be a key element of digital media/strategy planning.


IWOM WATCH JANUARY 2010: Faster, Faster and Faster

 Industry Watch 26 March 2010

I have been on the road, so am putting our IWOM watch trend report from January up a bit late. I do like the “seckill” phenomenon. Chinese websites do a good job of distilling an essential part of the private sales model so hot in the Europe and the US and combine with Chinese gaming culture. Good stuff.


The Increasing Influence of Microblogs in China

 Industry Watch 19 March 2010

Just a quick stat from our newly launched IWOM discover tool: almost 40% of the buzz we tracked around the Toyota recall on the day that Toyota president Akio Toyoda spoke in China about the issue came from Sina’s micro-blog. For more on the Toyota crisis, see my recent article in Ad Age China.

Consumer Day Is One More Thing Toyota Should Worry About

 Industry Watch 15 March 2010

Here is the latest article in Ad Age China.

SHANGHAI ( — Toyota Motor Corp.’s recall of millions of cars globally has created a PR fiasco for the Japanese car company. In China, the company now has one more thing to worry about.
Negative feelings towards Toyota are bubbling just as World Consumer Rights Day is popping up on the calendar. Every year on March 15, brands are regularly taken to task by both media and netizens for poor service.


China digital and IWOM/social media reads: February 28, 2009

 Industry Watch 28 February 2010

Social Media and Organizational Design
As I pointed in my IWOM Summit post late last year, the current phase of IWOM/social media development is seeing how organizations are adapting around social media. I am attending Dachis’ Social Business Summit in a couple of weeks which addresses this topic on a larger scale and I can’t wait. BTW, Hyku blog is a must read for anyone who wants to have a practical understanding of social media from someone who is right in the middle of the “last mile” of “installing” strategic social media within organizations. 


A brief history of Chinese social commerce and online group purchase

 Industry Watch 22 February 2010

Scott Tong from American Public Radio recently did an impressive story on the Chinese phenomenon of tuan gou (group purchase or 团购) called “China’s next export: Group shopping?” Scott interviewed me for the piece, as well as others. In summary, a tuan gou involves consumers organizing into a large group, often via the Internet, and then leveraging the group to get better prices. Groups are either organized informally on BBS sites like Xcar or can be organized via tuan gou sites like


IWOM watch December: Sina microblog beats out traditional media to report news first

 Industry Watch 2 February 2010

IWOM watch summary: 
Following the opening of United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen on Dec.7th 2009, a new awareness ‘green’, also called low-carbon life was generated. In this issue, we took a look at how netizens discussed environmental protection and contributed ideas spontaneously.


China digital and IWOM/social media reads: January 18, 2009

 Industry Watch 18 January 2010

I am going to try to begin sharing some of the more interesting articles/posts I read on a regular basis. I will share mostly on topics related to Chinese IWOM/social media, China digital marketing and social media outside of China. 
Taobao & China’s “Me-Commerce” Revolution (BDA)
See also great summary of the report by Thomas Crampton: How Taobao beats eBay in China. 


IWOM watch November: Video reviews gain traction

 Industry Watch 30 December 2009

In this month’s IWOM watch, we see that the movie 2012 is a hot topic with plenty of discussion about the plot as well as spoofing. We also see how “Mother Tomato’s” 8 years of posting her child rearing experience and special parenting vision made her become an idol among mommy netizens. Via the study on the popular TV series “Dwelling Narrowness,” we find that the writer Liu Liu got inspiration for her script from netizens. In addition, we take a look at the netizens’ enthusiasm to the launch of Windows7 as well as watch the new trend of video review, an impactful way combining with visual and audio elements.


IWOM watch September: We are the Chinese Youth Generation!

 Industry Watch 13 November 2009

Chinese Youth are the first generation of Chinese “net natives”, this group is unique, creative, passionate, brave and care about their society. In this issue, CIC looks at what Chinese youth like and how they create IWOM based on recent events.
Firstly, we found that they threw great patriotic passion into supporting the CCP’s 60th birthday by sharing the amazing rehearsal pictures/videos using their time honed BBS copy/paste skills, and then we see them spread and discover “grass-root beauties” across BBS’s. Secondly, we see the emergence of a new net slang term “烎(Yin)” which represents brave and persistence. Finally, we keep an eye on netizens’ spoofing companies by pretending that they have gone bankrupt and show how NONOPANDA, a cute cartoon image has managed to attract netizens attention both on and offline.


Meizu BBS Casestudy: How the M8 managed to beat the iPhone in terms of buzz

 Industry Watch 3 November 2009

In 2008, when looking at which mobile products generate the most talk (or what we like to call buzz), the clear winner was the Apple iPhone 3G, which due to netizens recycling content from traditional media to forums and then back to traditional media, helped it to rise above the rest in terms of buzz.


CCI and CIC’s New Youth Report: How IWOM goes beyond traditional market research

 Industry Watch 25 September 2009

A few years ago, we launched a framework for understanding/approaching IWOM, something we called L-K-P (aka Listen-Know-Participate). Recently, I have been using an updated name for this framework: Content, Context and Implications.
Content: This includes findings that are similar to what you would find in traditional market research. However, unlike traditional focus groups, a IWOM study like the one we conducted in our recently launched “Youth Report,” (see teaser slides here), offers brands a huge ‘focus group’ where hundreds of thousands of consumers are naturally speaking their minds and generating over a million comments.


IWOM watch August: The Birth of New Entertainment Ways

 Industry Watch 23 September 2009

Since the internet is always changing, in this latest issue of IWOM watch, we identified emerging trends in online entertainment. Firstly we saw the birth of a new type of offline entertainment gathering organized online called “Shan Wan”(闪玩), or to “quick fun/play.” The event targets white collar workers who are looking for quick friends to join sports, KTV or other activities of common interest. Secondly, we reported on Zhuan Tie (转帖 cross-posting), which is a common communication style that has spread to SNS communities.


IWOM watch July: When We Live Together Online

 Industry Watch 4 September 2009

This July it’s been another exciting month. Firstly, we watched as lots of netizens took relationships they have formed online offline – with netizens coming together to watch the longest total solar eclipse of this century and then proceeding to spread the news via different online channels. Then we watched as Man United fans organized meet ups to go see their favorite team play in Hangzhou. In the second part of this issue, we then looked into the popularity of the Jia Junpeng incident which has already generated more than ten million page views and hundreds of thousands of replies! Finally, we take a quick look at KFC’s newly launched “Drink Joyfully” campaign which runs over famous SNS’s and encouraged netizens to interactive with others and in doing so promotes their products and brand image online.


IWOM watch June: Social Media Getting Closer to Real Life

 Industry Watch 3 August 2009

In this issue we look at how netizens using photoshop came up with a story to explain how a whole 13-floor building somehow managed to collapse. We also take a look at the video “Nobody”, which inspired many copycat/spinoffs and led to lots of young netizen creativity. Finally we take a look at the emergence of two new online marketing communication platforms both which leverage social media. The first being “Xinhua TV” and Kaixin001 partnering together to explore new ways to broadcast news content, the other being the emergence of 3G and the mobile browser and application wars that are accompanying it.


Reflections on June (and some of July): IWOM Technology is Necessary, But Not Sufficient

 Industry Watch 28 July 2009

Like most, CIC has seen a busy summer so far. June was a particularly busy month with the release of two white papers and our IWOM dashboard.
Our first white paper is on the impact of IWOM on the purchase decision. Here we make use of traditional research to better understand the users and attitudes behind the IWOM phenomenon. Also, we propose how IWOM has altered the purchase decision process as viewed by traditional market researchers. I think such ‘serious’ research demonstrates CIC’s commitment to being the most professional IWOM research and consulting firm in China. We don’t just throw out a bunch of numbers about buzz, but really seek to understand what drives IWOM and IWOM’s impact in this unique China environment and build services on top of this understanding.


CIC quoted in the AmCham article ‘Connecting with Consumers’

 Industry Watch 14 July 2009

Amcham recently published a cover story “Connecting with Consumers” for its INSIGHT magazine. I am quoted along with Adam Schokora, Will Moss and Jeremy Goldkorn in the Shanghai AmCham INSIGHT cover story titled Connecting with Consumers.

To see how far things have come, see the 2006 version of the story, quoting most of the same people.

CIC’s measures the buzz around goat milk powder for Ad Age China’s Fast Facts

 Industry Watch 6 July 2009

Ad Age China recently published their monthly fast fact titled ‘If Not Cows, Then Goats’ which using CIC’s IWOM Passion Index Trend showed how during last year’s infant milk formula crisis consumers started to talk about goat milk powder as an alternative to cow’s milk.

To read the original article and see the graph in more detail please go here

IWOM watch May: The explosion of online marketing

 Industry Watch 26 June 2009

This May it’s been a online marketing free-for-all! Firstly, we watched as Intel in cooperation with Baidu placed a text advertisement on Baidu’s front page, resulting in Intel’s site to temporarily go offline due to the massive numbers of visitors! Secondly, we look into the popularity of Nokia’s two new viral videos and showed how China’s first multi-channel user interactive mini-series titled “What is An looking for?” (安与安寻) has become a campaign that all the fashion related brands want to participate in. Finally, we take a look at two popular campaigns both which were featured on KaiXin001 and which resulted in the brands receiving significant amounts of exposure – Lancôme’s “Pink Lady” and “Lohas’s Garden Event”.


The Launch of CIC’s IWOM Master Dashboard: Some Thoughts

 Industry Watch 25 June 2009

Just back from London. I’ve been so busy recently I just haven’t had a chance to really talk much about the dashboard we launched on June 1.  With the launch, we have essentially begun to put some of the powerful technology our analysts have been using for years into the hands of our clients.  I wanted to share a bit about why we are really excited about this launch.


IWOM watch April: 2009 SH Auto Show, netizens attend the event from home

 Industry Watch 24 May 2009

The Shanghai (SH) Auto Show, held in Shanghai from April 22nd – 28th, 2009 was reported as the biggest exhibition ever for China, attracting over 600,000 visitors within 7 days. Interestingly those unable to attend the event in person were able to experience the atmosphere of the event via various online channels. In this IWOM watch report, we take a look at some of the creative ways netizens participated in the event online, such as through QQ’s virtual exhibition hall and Sina’s online 4S store.


Group Purchase Mentions Double in 2nd Half of 2008: IWOM as More than Just Chatter

 Industry Watch 28 April 2009

I recently penned a Viewpoint article for Ad Age China looking at the phenomena of “group purchase” (AKA “tuan gou” or “团购”). In it, I noted that according to our analysis of Auto IWOM, the mentions doubled in 2nd half of 2008, as the chart from our data below demonstrates.
I have written and talked about group purchase a number of times over the last few years, including here and here.  I shared a case study of a group purchase made by one of my team members here. What’s interesting now is that group purchase discussions are becoming more prominent.


More Thoughts on China Digital and Social Media

 Industry Watch 15 April 2009

Recently, The Conversation Group’s Haydn Shaughnessy’s interviewed me via email for a project he was working on for a client. Originally, the interview was to be published on the client’s blog, but not sure that is going to happen now. Thought I would go ahead and publish it here, so….here it is. Long time readers will know I have shared similar thoughts before, e.g. here.


Reflections on March

 Industry Watch 8 April 2009

Looking back at March, one of the highlights was the opening of our new office expansion on March 12th. This is actually the 3rd expansion we have had since we moved into this office space in early 2007. What was especially cool was that my parents were here for the “ribbon cutting” ceremony.


Who’s really holding the megaphone?

 Industry Watch 30 March 2009

I am writing this a bit late, but I was pretty excited to pen my first Ad Age China “Viewpoint” column a couple of weeks ago. The topic was the recent Consumer Day. In addition to the typical ‘Crisis 2.0’ case studies that readers of my blog will be familiar with, I did explore a trend that is becoming more prominent and that is the more ‘active’ role that community owners are taking in bringing awareness to or even promoting brand related crisis’. Unlike social media platforms in the US, in China, the platforms for blogs and BBS which remain the key drivers in brand related conversations are very commercial (see my discussion of this topic on Adam’s blog here). I play with Pete Blackshaw’s “social media is a megaphone for consumers” metaphor when I write:


Consumer Day and The Internet Community

 Industry Watch 15 March 2009

Once again, Consumer Day in China is here (March 15). Crisis 2.0 is nothing new to us in China, but it remains a powerful example of how the Internet Community is reshaping the relationship between brands and consumers. With this in mind, I thought it would be worthwhile to re-visit the post I wrote last year about the event and integrate some of our recent thinking from our Internet is THE Community white papers (see here and here).


Reflections on February

 Industry Watch 5 March 2009

In February, I have had the opportunity to have extended discussions with partners and clients and our team in China and overseas about the positioning of IWOM, especially in an international context. In these discussions, I have shared how I strongly believe that while IWOM is a global phenomenon, how it plays out is very “local.” I have written extensively on this blog about how China is “different.” The places where people talk online are different (i.e. more on BBS than on blog, at least in relation to brands, see here and here), the degree that people participate is different (i.e. IWOM is more mainstream in China, see here), the importance/place of IWOM as a cultural force is different (see here), the language is different (that actual ‘language’, i.e. syntax, word segmentation etc., see here; as well as the net slang, see here); Essentially, I think for IWOM, you should “Think Global, but Act Local.”


Forrester: Chinese social media participation is higher than the US

 Industry Watch 3 March 2009

Adam has a nice post summarizing the recent Forrester report here. I was interviewed for this report and it reflects much of what I and my company have been saying about social media in China for years. Not much new, but nice to have some good stats to support.
Key takeaways
1) social media in China is mainstream


Online group car purchase: a real story

 Industry Watch 26 February 2009

Recently one of CIC’s analysts bought a car via “group purchase” (i.e. 团购) and shared her experience on our Chinese language seeisee blog here. I thought it was pretty interesting, so I have put a translation below. This one “group purchase” brought the sales of 55 cars to the one dealer who accepted it. Not too small…


IWOM Watch half year review: July – December, 2008

 Industry Watch 23 January 2009

CIC’s IWOM Watch is our regular net culture and “marketing 2.0” trend watch which provides a qualitative overview of the latest trends from the web that would be of interest to marketers. Every half year, we offer a free review report that outlines the highlights from the previous six months.


CIC 2nd Annual IWOM Summit Takeaways

 Industry Watch,IWOM Roundtable 15 January 2009

For our second annual IWOM summit I recently met with 17 marketing communications directors, managers and CxO’s from some of the most important and innovative companies in China, many of whom are from the Fortune 500 and are our clients and partners. The purposes of the meetings were to:
* Preview findings from our own study on efluencers and other internal research regarding their perspectives of IWOM and brands


Reflection on December

 Industry Watch 31 December 2008

As December comes to a close and New Year approaches, it is time to take a look back as I did in October and November. Unlike many of my expat “brothers,” I spent Christmas at my China home. Thanks to Taobao, my family got a Christmas tree (a “real” tree, by the way) with a bunch of presents ready for my son Leo to dive into Christmas morning (see below).


The DNA of internet word-of-mouth platforms

 Industry Watch 10 December 2008

Below is my latest article for iMedia Connection Asia.

It is important for brands to know how and why netizens connect with each other if they want to jump in and participate.
In a previous article here, I described the architecture of internet word-of-mouth (IWOM) in China, i.e. bulletin board systems (BBS), blogs and social networking sites (SNS), among others, where netizens connect with each other. However, more than just knowing where, it is important for brands to know how and why netizens connect in each of these different spaces if they want to jump in and participate.


Reflection on November

 Industry Watch 3 December 2008

As November comes to a close, I want to share a somewhat random, but hopefully interesting update of what I have been doing around IWOM, especially the flow of my thoughts. I write this as a follow up to my previous “update” for September and October.
I had the pleasure of attending the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s (WOMMA) annual Research and Marketing Summit in Las Vegas November 12-14. This is sort of the Mecca for those in our industry. Among the highlights included having dinner with Pete Blackshaw (the guy who coined “CGM” and overall brilliant IWOM strategist at Nielsen Online), as well as dinner with leading firms in our space in the US, including MotiveQuest, Radian6 and Visible Technologies. One of the hottest topics was the use of dedicated, branded communities such as those being done by Communispace. My overall take away from WOMMA was that in the West, IWOM itself (in terms of levels of participation and passion) is NOT as developed as China (or Korea and Japan), but IWOM marketing is MORE developed than China, i.e. sophistication and measurement of marking programs is more sophisticated.


IWOM Watch Oct 1-15: The Internet is THE community

 Industry Watch 21 November 2008

I recently discussed the concept of “The Internet is THE community” on my blog. This is a concept we have been using at CIC for years to frame our view of the Internet landscape and its stake holders including, brands, consumers and community owners. The core concept is that the Internet has leveled the playing field between brands and consumers by giving both consumers and brands alike the opportunity to connect in ways which were previously impossible. In our latest issue of IWOM watch, we highlight different examples of how brands can participate in and positively contribute to the community. We also cover an ongoing awards activity which is one of the most interesting artifacts of the Internet community. The awards activity is hosted by Netease, and serves as a sort of Oscars for community participation. See below to read more about the top winners and other examples of how netizens are contributing to the community.


IWOM Watch Sep 16-30: Retailers reverse the “Group Purchase” trend

 Industry Watch 30 October 2008

Group purchase, which I first wrote about in May of 2006, has become a popular trend on the Internet in China and a powerful way for netizens to get good deals and cheaper prices on all types of products, including larger items such as automobiles. Until recently, online group purchase activities were only initiated by individual consumers, who came together independently in BBS forums to get a cheaper price on certain products. In a new trend brands and communities like KDS are recognizing the power and influence of this popular part of net culture and have begun sponsoring formal “group purchase” events and campaigns.


A reflection on our IWOM thinking during the recent 2 months

 Industry Watch 23 October 2008

Below is a rough translation of an article I wrote for our Chinese blog. It’s a bit of a different style for a different audience, but I thought I would share anyway.
As CIC is in a rapidly evolving industry, I would like to share some of the experiences, conversations and overall thoughts which are shaping the CIC view of IWOM in China. Because our vision, like the industry, is always evolving, I will look to share these thoughts once a month.


IWOM Watch September 1-15: The 90’s generation starts college

 Industry Watch 22 October 2008

Below is taken from our IWOM watch for September 1-15. IWOM watch is a twice monthly report we provide to a number of our clients.
This September, the first kids from the 90’s generation (i.e. 90后) are starting college. Unlike the 70’s and 80’s generations which are considered more conservative, members of the 90’s generation are defined by their “uniqueness.” The Internet has served as a key channel for building this generation by providing a platform for self-expression and socializing.


How IWOM is Redefining the Relationship between Brands and Consumers

 Industry Watch 10 October 2008

Below is my latest article for iMedia Connection Asia.

In this column I look at how IWOM is actually reshaping the relationship between brands and consumers. In the first section I discuss how IWOM is actually leveling the playing field between institutions and individuals and providing an opportunity for brands to connect directly with targeted consumers. In the second part, I look at how this new relationship is impacting market research, marketing, customer service and PR.


IWOM Watch August: The first web 2.0 Olympics

 Industry Watch 8 October 2008

It is often quoted that Chinese netizens spend more time on the Internet than they do watching TV, and that the first thing a young person buys for their new apartment is a computer to access the Internet, and not a T.V. So it’s not surprising to find, that when following the Olympics, netizens chose the Internet over all other media, including TV.


IWOM Watch half year review: January – June, 2008

 Industry Watch 21 July 2008

CIC’s IWOM Watch is our bi-weekly net culture and “marketing 2.0” trend watch which provides a qualitative overview of the latest trends from the web that would be of interest to marketers. Every half year, we offer a free review report which outlines the highlights from the previous 12 bi-weekly reports.


CIC translates its IWOM white paper archive

 Industry Watch 16 July 2008

Since 2007, CIC has been releasing IWOM white papers with a focus in a particular industry, which offer both brands and consumers insight into the online buzz surrounding each specific industry. CIC has previously released white papers on the sports, notebook computers, auto, mobile phone and healthcare sectors. Up until now, the reports have only been available in English. However, due to popular demand, our white papers on sports, notebook computers and automobiles are now available in Chinese.


6 reasons brands in China should listen to IWOM (beyond seeding and crisis tracking)

 Industry Watch 15 July 2008

Here’s my latest article for iMedia Connection Asia on “6 reasons brands in China should listen to IWOM”.
I wrote this to offer the necessary counterbalance to those who focus on the seeding and censorship that exist within Chinese IWOM. If you only focus on these issues, then you will miss out on authentic, vibrant online consumer cultures and communities represented in massive numbers and making impact way beyond what any brand or agency could artificially create.


President Hu Jin Tao listens to online buzz…why shouldn’t you?

 Industry Watch 1 July 2008

I am getting to this a bit late, but I do find it worth noting that Hu Jin Tao takes the pulse of netizen thoughts and opinions on a regular basis; in fact, checking BBS comments are one of the first things he does when he gets online. Here are some of the highlights:
“Through the web I also want to know what netizens are thinking about and what their opinions are. I hope to get some suggestions and advice proposed by our netizens to the government and the Party.”


IWOM Watch Jun 1-15: Netizens share experience about National Matriculation Test online

 Industry Watch 27 June 2008

The National Matriculation Test (NMT), or college entrance exam, is a national test that is taken by millions of netizens across the country. It is the culmination of many years of hard study and will determine the students’ future.
In this IWOM watch, we see that netizens are no longer content with just mainstream media reporting of the event, they report their experiences themselves on BBS, blogs and online video sites. More than just reporting, this sharing via IWOM serves as a communal pressure release. Also, interesting to note regarding IWOM is that in the new test guidelines released this year, netizens were “strongly discouraged” from using net language in their essays which created extensive debate online, suggesting net language has a significant impact on Chinese culture.


Thoughts on recent Business Week article on IWOM in China

 Industry Watch 15 June 2008

Recently, Business Week published an article about Chinese Internet Word of Mouth (IWOM) titled “Inside the War Against China’s Blogs“.
Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog or who follows the Chinese Internet, including net culture and IWOM, knows that it would be quite a challenge to fully capture in a relatively brief magazine article the dynamics and complexity at play in this ecosystem and equally challenging to capture the emerging Internet Word of Mouth industry in China that has developed to help companies understand and participate in this new world.


Tuning into Sports IWOM 2007 Q4: BBS vs. Twitter

 Industry Watch 12 June 2008

A few weeks ago CIC released our latest IWOM white paper, Tuning into Sports IWOM 2007 Q4 (download here or get off of slideshare here). Unfortunately, I never really had a chance to write up a follow up post about the paper because of the earthquake, but after reviewing the paper again, I really do think it has some good case studies worth mentioning, especially the one about NBA “group reporting/watching”


Connecting the connected agency in China

 Industry Watch 2 June 2008

Here’s my latest article for Imediaconnection on “Connecting the connected agency in China.”

How agencies can connect with consumer communities
In my previous article, I discussed Forrester’s “connected agency” which is defined as an agency with “a deep understanding of consumer communities, helping brands create and nurture connections, deliver targeted, on-demand messages, and network for talent and insights.” In the article, I also laid out the unique elements of the Chinese internet community landscape that should be at the foundation for such a “connected agency”.


IWOM Watch Special Edition: Internet and IWOM shape the Sichuan Earthquake aftermath

 Industry Watch 27 May 2008

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May 12, 2008, 14:28 will be a time and date remembered by those in China forever. The memory of the catastrophic earthquake in Sichuan province that happened that day is tattooed onto our brains just like 9/11/01 is for Americans. May 12 is when time stopped; when the country stood still. It is when, for one of the most memorable times in recent history, Chinese united together around one event in a massive show of solidarity that demonstrates the strength of this powerful nation.


IWOM Watch Apr 16-30: Netizens find new channels for self expression

 Industry Watch 23 May 2008

One of the most interesting aspects of studying a culture is how self expression, which sometimes becomes art, can turn into cultural icons. One image that comes to mind for me is the “smiley” face “have a good day” t-shirts in the US from the 1970’s. In this issue, we see that such icons are being created within Chinese Internet culture. The character 囧 (jiong) has recently gained iconographic status and it’s meaning has been appropriated to represent being “sad and frustrated” due to its resemblance of a human face. There is a now full fledge “jiong culture” with dedicated blogs, BBS and video and it is even appearing on bags and other accessories.


IWOM Powering Help for Quake

The IWOM related to issues around France and the torch demonstrated the power of IWOM to impact opinion and action in China.
With the horrible tragedy of the earth quake in Sichuan earlier this week, we are now seeing some equally powerful demonstrations of the impact of IWOM, many of which are both impressive and moving.


Sports White Paper Released

 Industry Watch 13 May 2008

I am happy to announce that we have released our latest white paper, Tuning into Sports IWOM, 2007 Q4. You can download it here. If you were ever itching to know what Chinese netizens talk about basketball and football (NOT the American kind) and what brands are doing in this space, this is the report for you.


IWOM Watch Apr 1-15: Understanding the Local Online Community Landscape

 Industry Watch 5 May 2008

In the last IWOM watch, we talked about how the launch of SNS sites based on particular cities rides the trend of BBS communities which already serve such a need. In this issue, we take a closer look at KDS (宽带山), a sub-forum of PChome, which is one such “local” BBS based in Shanghai. KDS is filled with Shanghai residents talking about the latest gossip, news and generally playing around. It even has its own “KDS” net language such as “5pp54″(Ignore the topic if no photo).


Sports White Paper Coming Soon: Ride the Wave of Sports Online Culture

Next week we are planning to launch our white paper on Sports IWOM. This paper will follow in the footsteps of our previous white papers on auto, mobile phone, health topics, and notebook computers all of which can be found here.
Netizens are extremely passionate about sports, sports teams, players and sports apparel. As we have seen in other aspects of Internet culture, netizens are proactive in creating original content around these topics and interests. For example, China has a rich DIY sneaker head culture. (see below, taken from the upcoming paper)


Connection points for the “connected agency” in China

 Industry Watch 2 April 2008

The article below is also my latest column post on iMedia Connection Asia.
My plan for now is to follow up next month with a sort of “part II” for the article to articulate ideas about how brands can actually connect to China’s developed and complex community landscape.
BTW, if you like this article, you might also like Paul Denlinger’s “A new kind of ad agency warrior” as well as Kaiser Kuo’s “Closing the marketing confidence gap Part II”


Seeisee Chinese Blog Recap for Mar 1-15, 2008

 Industry Watch 28 March 2008

Below is a recap of a few of the recent posts from our Chinese seeisee blog.
The Relationship between Groups in IWOM and Public Spaces (March 11th)
The analysis of “group” in IWOM is always a main focus of ours here at CIC. Violet’s previous post “Groups in IWOM and their value in IWOM marketing” introduced the concept of “groups” in IWOM and online opinion leaders, and this time James’s new post emphasizes the relationship between groups in IWOM and groups in public spaces. Public space for “groups” refers to the place where group members talk and discuss different topics, such as BBS and forums. While the topics and the relationships between members in the group influence the level of popularity of each group, the size and magnitude of the public spaces can influence IWOM.


IWOM watch Half Year Review – An Overview of Chinese IWOM trends from July-December, 2007

 Industry Watch 24 March 2008

I am proud to present some key highlights from our IWOM watch reports, issued during the second half of 2007. We organized the highlights according to several themes that emerged, including brands integration of net culture into their campaigns, brands tapping into the masses, consumers taking ownership of brands’ online image (with or without the brands’ help), and examples of brands not only listening to netizen suggestions, but reacting to these suggestions.


Edelman Digital China: PR steps up to the plate for IWOM

 Industry Watch 17 March 2008

I have said before that digital marketing firms have the edge over PR firms in China in terms of “getting” IWOM. Of course, I always expected PR firms to put up a fight. Enter Edelman China. Worldwide, Edelman is seen as one of the first and best firms to integrate IWOM into its PR practice. And while there have been setbacks (the Walmart flogging incident in the US shows the bruises of a pioneer), all in all, they have pushed forward admirably. Recently, Edelman set up Edelman Digital, a global practice being rolled out in all markets, to be headed by Rick Murray out of Chicago.


Consumer Day 315: An overview of Internet Channels for the Malcontent

 Industry Watch 14 March 2008

Recently, BusinessWeek put out a cover story on “Consumer Vigilantes,” with various extreme examples of how consumers in the US fight for their consumer rights. This topic is especially a propos as Consumer Day, on March 15, quickly approaches in China. Sponsored by China Consumers’ Association (CCA)”, Consumer Day is the day that consumers are encouraged to share their customer service complaints (and perhaps kudos, but you don’t see much of this). Consumer Day stories are featured prominently in mainstream media, and PR managers live in fear of this day.


Seeisee Chinese Blog Recap for February 2008

 Industry Watch 11 March 2008

Seeisee blog is CIC’s official company blog, written, edited and managed by the CIC team. Seeisee represents who we are, what we do, and what we think about. There are 2 to 3 posts published on the blog every week. I know I am biased, but I really do think the team writes some pretty interesting articles and provides some useful insight. Beginning with this post, every couple of weeks, I will share a summary of some of the more interesting articles.


My thoughts on IWOM, SNS, BBS and more in Pacific Epoch Interview

 Industry Watch 7 March 2008

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to talk about IWOM and how it is developing and evolving in China. Pacific Epoch’s interview of me last week captures much of our latest thinking at CIC about the IWOM landscape and brands’ place in it. You can find the interview here. Free registration required.

IWOM Watch Jan 16-31: A New Kind of Net Star

 Industry Watch 4 March 2008

We have written about net stars quite often in the last couple of years (see here, here and here). This includes Backdorm Boys, Furong JieJie, Tianxian MeiMei, Xiao pang and others. We are now witnessing a new type of net star, and they are not human. They are net cartoons like yoyocici and hezi. Leading the pack, however, is Tuzki, a more mischievous Hello Kitty, created by Wang Momo, a graphics art student. Netizens have integrated Tuzki into their lives by making it their QQ/MSN avatar, putting it into their BBS signature and on their blogs. Recently, Tuzki has been tapped by major brands. In December, Tuzki began to “represent” the Moto Q, transforming what was previously marketed as a “Blackberry killer” in the US into a hip youth communicator along the lines of the Sidekick. Also, in this issue of IWOM watch, we see how HP is working with Tuzki and Wang Momo. Working with net stars is another example of our Listen-Know-Participate framework which can lead to great marketing ideas. It’s also worth noting that cartoon net stars have an additional advantage over “traditional” stars like Edison Chan: cartoon stars tend not to get involved in online sex photo scandals.


IWOM Watch Jan 1-15: Zhui Ke (追客) curiosity an opportunity for brands?

 Industry Watch 15 February 2008

In the last IWOM watch issue, we discussed how the Chinese net world, with a thriving “spoofing” culture, is primed for an “ElfYourself” type campaign.
In this issue, we see with the Zhui Ke (追客)” culture that there are passionate netizens who are always seeking to be the first to solve mysteries, identify problems, or simply find the latest “cool” thing. Such a culture would seem to provide the right foundation for “immersive gaming,” or “alternative reality gaming,” a type of promotion that can be used to launch new products, movies, and music which is gaining steam in the west. Wired Magazine defines such games as “narratives,” which “unfold in fragments, in all sorts of media, from Web sites to phone calls to live events, and the audience pieces together the story from shards of information.” Nine Inch Nails, a popular rock band, recently used this to great success as profiled in this same Wired article.


Tenets of CIC ‘s work philosophy

 Industry Watch 4 February 2008

My colleague Daisy is on sabbatical now, getting an MSc in social psychology from the London School of Economics. She attends this prestigious university on full scholarship.
Although Daisy is officially on sabbatical, she actually still works closely with us via the power of SKYPE (we had a record 5.5 hour conference call last month), msn, email and of course BBS and blog. Even more, while studying and learning, she continuously seeks out opportunities to apply what she is learning to CIC’s development and improvement.


CIC featured on WOMMA blog and WOMMA member center

 Industry Watch 2 February 2008

I mentioned recently that CIC joined the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. Since joining, I am happy to note that my IWOM Trends for 2008 article was featured on the WOMMA Word blog. This puts us in the company of some great thought leaders in IWOM in the west. Very flattering. If you haven’t read it it before, the WOMMA Word blog is a great read, filled with ideas and case studies from the “front line” in the US. Not all cases fit China, but there are definitely some good takeaways. Also, our notebook IWOM white paper is now featured in the WOMMA members’ library here.

Dell finds closure to Processor Gate and “Dell Hell” in China

 Industry Watch 1 February 2008

Last week, CIC launched a notebook IWOM white paper. I wanted to share some more of my thoughts about some of the implications. COMPANIES FINDING AN ONLINE VOICE Recently in CIC we have been talking a lot about companies “finding their voice” on line. This has shown up in my recent writing. For example, in the white paper, we put the challenge in this way:


Internet word-of-mouth trends in 2008

 Industry Watch 28 January 2008

The article below is also my latest column post on iMedia Connection Asia. Check out their relatively new Asia section for some pretty interesting articles related to digital marketing and branding. INTERNET WORD OF MOUTH TRENDS IN 2008
I have been watching the Chinese internet word-of-mouth space since 2004, and I strongly believe that 2008 will be the most interesting year yet. Here are my 10 predictions for the IWOM Industry this year.


Notebook whitepaper is coming next week

 Industry Watch 18 January 2008

We are busy putting the finishing touches on our Notebook IWOM whitepaper, which we will release early next week. It follows in the footsteps of our previous white papers on auto, mobile phone and health topics, all of which can be found here.
I have decided this time to NOT issue an English press release, but rather a modified version of the “social media press release” proposed by Edelman and Shift Communications last year in the US. I am not sure if the format ever gained any traction, but it fits our needs well. I really don’t want to waste time having our team put together a wordy, hyperbolic, bragging style statement that won’t get picked up much anyway, at least by the media and “new media” that are interested in our work. We will distill the “facts” into byte/bite size pieces, or ingredients, so that it will be easy for whomever to pull out what is most interesting to craft their own take from it.


IWOM Watch Dec 16-31: Elf yourself, spoof yourself

 Industry Watch 14 January 2008

For the second year in a row, OfficeMax in the US launched an incredibly successful online viral site called ElfYourself during Christmas. Essentially, the site asks you to “spoof” yourself or others by uploading a headshot pic as the head of a silly dancing elf. At its peak, the site generated an average of 41,000 elves per hour or 11 elves per second (from Promo Magazine). Not surprisingly, the site even created buzz in China where “spoofing” (i.e. e-gao/恶搞) is practically a sport for netizens. As we see this month’s IWOM watch, netizens spoofing in China can lead to both positive and negative images for brands. Brands in China who can follow OfficeMax’s lead and come up with campaigns that make the brand a platform to incentivize and tap into netizens creativity and funnel it towards positive spoofing will have a great opportunity for campaigns with similar success. 


Audio Post: IWOM as an essential element for marketing communication

 Industry Watch 10 January 2008

Last week, I published my interview video with ThinkTech Hawaii in which I gave a basic overview of Internet Word of Mouth (IWOM). In the name of experimentation, I am posting a short audio post that digs a little deeper on IWOM, based on the IWOM puzzle graphic above.

You can also listen to the mp3 on tudou directly or download it at here.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery: thanks Bolaa

 Industry Watch 7 January 2008

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I am sincerely flattered that blog aggregation site Bolaa copied one of our blog articles for it’s regular column on Donews. Our article, originally written by Clash, is here. The Bolaa article is here.
We of course are well aware such a practice is not uncommon in China. We were copied by the China Daily in 2006 as I wrote here. Actually, the China Daily gave me credit for the article, they just didn’t tell me about it. I wrote more about the “copy/paste” or zhuanzai (转载) concept here.

IWOM Ethics and Why CIC joined WOMMA

 Industry Watch 3 January 2008

Recently, CIC became a member of WOMMA. If you don’t know WOMMA, and you are in any way interested in, a student of, or practicing IWOM, then you definitely SHOULD know WOMMA. We first met with WOMMA at their headquarters in 2005 when Andy Sernovitz was the President. We had a great meeting with Andy, but decided at that time that WOMMA was more focused on the American market and membership would not have so many benefits for a China based company like CIC. My thoughts have since changed. We have been offering IWOM research and consulting services for over 3 years now, and as I see the industry developing, I have come to see the importance of an industry organization to establish guidelines and principles to not only define and promote the industry, but also to protect an industry’s reputation. To this latter point, it was when I reviewed the WOMMA code of ethics that I decided we should join. The WOMMA ethics code is best summed up by the following:


IWOM Watch Dec 1-15: Blurring online and offline lives

 Industry Watch 26 December 2007

Those who analyze youth and the Internet often distinguish between online and offline life. In this issue of IWOM watch, we see that this distinction is becoming less and less clear. For example, Tencent’s Q baby forum recognizes that the relationships that develop in online communities often extend to offline by offering on the ground events to support its latest Super Q Baby campaign. Parents who have gotten to know each other online can finally meet offline. Micat, an application that allows netizens to easily upload videos and pics taken with their phones lowers the barrier for netizens to turn their lives into a media. Finally, Starbucks recent “A Sunny Day” “subway series” of videos rides high on the buzz that is generated through discussions and the uploading of the subway videos onto leading video sites. In truth, young netizens don’t really make a distinction between online and offline: the Internet is simply a natural part of life. The savvy marketers and application developers who recognize this, and even more, who contribute to the blurring of these worlds, will see greater success in reaching and engaging Chinese youth. An excerpt from IWOM watch about the Q Baby activity is below.


Forrester’s Peter Kim on Brand Monitoring

 Industry Watch 18 December 2007

Last week, in Brandweek, Forrester’s Peter Kim wrote a nice overview of “brand monitoring”. See the article here.
He suggests that to succeed in IWOM today:
…you need to listen and measure before getting involved. Sticking your head in the sand isn’t an option; neither is operating in 24/7 knee-jerk reaction mode to every piece of CGM related to your brand. Brand monitoring can help marketers measure and make sense of CGM by delivering aggregated cost- and labor-intensive consumer insights.


IWOM Watch Nov 16-30: Netizens are talking and brands are listening

 Industry Watch 17 December 2007

While a detailed definition of “Web 2.0” is often debated, most would agree that one key component is the fact that netizens are now empowered to “talk back” to the media.
In this issue of IWOM watch, we see an example of this in consumers letting detergent brand OMO know that its TVC broke social mores when the child actor in the TVC failed to apologize appropriately. We saw similar complaints against KFC, McDonald, and S-VW advertisements last year.


CIC IWOM Summit: touching base with IWOM users

 Industry Watch,IWOM Roundtable 15 December 2007

As part of our recent IWOM summit activity, over the course of about 4 weeks in October and November, I had the opportunity to meet with 15 marketing communications directors, managers and CxO’s from some of the most important and innovative companies in China, many of whom are from the Fortune 500 and are our clients and partners. The purpose of the meetings was to provide an update on our experience and understanding of IWOM in China as well as to receive ideas and feedback from our clients and partners on their experiences. The IWOM summit is part of our IWOM roundtable series of events we hold several times a year (see our IWOM expert panel event from April this year here).


McKinsey recognizes the multiple roles IWOM can take in marketing

 Industry Watch 11 December 2007

The most recent McKinsey Quarterly (requires free registration) has a short but sweet article about how marketers can use IWOM. IWOM is so complex and can impact so many different aspects of marketing communications that they suggest taking a systematic, top down approach to understanding how best to leverage it. Thinking about China, for example, Starbucks was probably more concerned earlier this year with the Public Relations impact of IWOM when the blogosphere was a-buzz about how its store should be removed from the Forbidden City. More recently, however, with the debut of its “A Sunny Day” subway video series, they may be more interested in how IWOM is amplifying its “Advertising.”


IWOM Watch Nov 1-15: Netizen campaigns use “Grab the floor” on BBS to get attention

 Industry Watch 3 December 2007

When I was growing up in the US in the 1970’s, my friends and I would listen to the radio, waiting for the DJ to announce the chance for listeners to be the “10th caller” to win a new record by the coolest new band. I would then rush to the phone to frantically punch in the phone number (I swear I can type phone numbers faster than anyone, even faster than speed dial!). Such tactics by brands on one of the most powerful shared media at the time, radio, created buzz among my network of friends.


O’Reilly in China: China Foo

 Industry Watch 18 November 2007

I have been a bit remiss in writing up my China FOO camp experience from November 9-10. FOO Camps are organized by the O’Reilly group to bring together people from a variety of backgrounds who may not ordinarily meet to discuss and explore innovation. Tim O’Reilly is the one who coined the term “Web 2.0” and FOO stands for “Friends of O’Reilly.” This event in Beijing was sponsored by IBM, among others.


The end of the (advertising) world as we know it…and I feel fine

 Industry Watch 18 November 2007

Paul Denlinger has a nice, provocative post on his blog called Wanted: A New Kind of Ad Agent Warrior
In it, he suggests that the “agency” industry is going through dramatic changes and requires a new kind of “warrior” savvy in the tools and the culture of the Internet:
That whole business model has been blown apart with the Internet, and ad agencies are adjusting to the changes. These changes are just starting, and will ripple out to affect other services as well.


Almost 150,000 Chinese BBS messages mentioned Focus in Q2 and why Ford should care

 Industry Watch 14 November 2007

According to our Auto IWOM whitepaper findings, Ford Focus was mentioned in 3.5% of all auto BBS messages mentioning manufacturer brands or models during Q2. This comes out to almost 150,000 messages. Why should Ford care? Here are some ideas that come to mind: IWOM influences purchase decisions: In an Automotive News China newsletter , AC Nielsen said that:


3 pathways to net culture

 Industry Watch,Personal 13 November 2007

The article below is taken from my first column post on the newly launched iMedia Connection Asia. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Many marketers tend to think of internet word of mouth (IWOM) on blogs and BBS (online message boards) in China as scary stuff. They may recall the Dell Processor Gate incident where consumers complained on BBS that Dell had shipped a different processor than what was advertised. This eventually led to a class action lawsuit for false advertising. Marketers may also think of the CCTV9 blogger Rui Chenggang’s open letter to Starbucks, requesting the removal of one of its stores from the Forbidden City, which was later picked up by the Chinese media and even The Wall Street Journal. (Starbucks is out of the Forbidden City, by the way). While these examples demonstrate IWOM’s power to make a big splash, it would be a mistake to relegate IWOM exclusively to reputation management.


IWOM Watch Oct 16-31 – Social commerce: IWOM driving e-commerce

 Industry Watch 13 November 2007

A peasant hotel owner’s blogging turns his once struggling business into a profitable one. A PC expert who also sells PC’s offers real, practical advice to buyers on his blog and on community sites and now his business is booming. Alibaba launches a record IPO making it the 2nd most valuable Internet company in China.


IWOM snippets from week of November 5

 Industry Watch 12 November 2007

Here are a few random snippets related to IWOM I came across this week:
I like this pic from the Economist article discussing Facebook’s announcement of its new internet word of mouth advertising program (I am cooking up ideas about this; will share soon). Nice title: “Word of Mouse” and nice pic of “conversational marketing.”


CIC IWOM whitepaper on auto industry released

 Industry Watch 6 November 2007

I am happy to announce that we released our white paper on automobile IWOM in China today. We think this provides some very interesting data and perspectives that demonstrate why auto manufacturers should be listening and understanding IWOM.
Here are some of the highlights:

Auto IWOM is massive: for Q2 period, we tracked 15,618,268 automobile related messages found on online message boards (BBS) written by 468,430 unique user names


Some CIC IWOM Research Concepts and Glossaries

 Industry Watch 2 November 2007

And my colleague James has published his wonderful posts of “You time”(here, here and here), we’d like to share you some concepts and glossaries that CIC we established or collected. Those have become part of CIC’s language in work. If you are interested and new in IWOM research, hope those basic glossaries can help you get a start.


IWOM Watch Oct 1-15: Customize communication according to community

 Industry Watch 1 November 2007

We recently released our IWOM watch for October 1-15. I have started to write an intro to each report; you can see my first shot at this below.
At CIC, we often say that IWOM offers an opportunity to build relationships. We find plenty of support for this in this IWOM issue. For example, in its most recent campaign, SVW recognizes that different communities like QQ and MSN Live have different cultures with different types of relationships which ultimately require different approaches. And as brands deepen their understanding of IWOM, we believe the opportunity to build relationships with consumers and stake holders will become more and more evident as well as a means to deepen these relationships.


The Recommendation Phenomenon in China

 Industry Watch 30 October 2007

Kaiser at the Digital Watch blog has a nice write up of a study done by Jan Van den Bergh, the Shanghai-based president of i-merge/ boondoggle, and Sinomonitor which looks at brand and product recommendation on the Internet in China.
Worth a read. The download is available here and the press release here.


IWOM defined

 Industry Watch 29 October 2007

At CIC, we feel like we are on the front lines of the Web 2.0 “revolution” in how consumers are taking charge in being sources of and sharing information that drives the information age. There are 162 million Internet users in China, 54 million regular BBS users and 35 million blog users (see latest CNNIC report here). In the brand/consumer relationship, brands no longer have the exclusive ability to lead the communication.


Spoofed Knife Guy

 Industry Watch 28 October 2007

Recently, our Chinese language seeisee blog put up pics from the one of the more recent interesting examples of Chinese “spoofing” culture. The first photo is the original photo taken during the arrest of a “crazy man with a knife.”

Here are some of the spoofed “branded versions” created by netizens.


IWOM most trusted according to Nielsen and eMarketer

 Industry Watch 22 October 2007

A couple of pieces of research came out recently which further supports the importance and influence of IWOM on consumer purchases.
The first from Nielsen looking at consumers worldwide. Hat tip to Church of Customer blog. Press release for study here.

The second from eMarketer looking at consumers in the US. Link to original article here.

IWOM Watch Sept 16-30: “Shai”(晒/show) means showing off your stuff online

 Industry Watch 19 October 2007

Chinese netizens who love to share their stuff online actually have an official net language term to describe their behavior – “Shai” (晒/show). People who enjoy doing “Shai” are called “Shai Ke” (晒客), similar to the use of “Bo Ke”(博客) for blogger and “Bo Ke”(播客) for vlogger. The development of Shai is representative of the fast-evolving net culture in China where we have seen blogs develop into vlogs and witkey to Huan Ke (换客,people who exchange stuff online). As we can see in the excerpt on Shai from our most recent CIC watch report below, the channels of expression online in China are continuing to morph.


Great NYT Article: The New Advertising Outlet: Your Life

 Industry Watch 16 October 2007

See here. This mirrors what we see happening in China. As Flemming Madsen puts it, big brands are skipping traditional advertising to connect to consumers directly via online communities. This is happening in China as well, and we are fortunate enough to be front row, center working with cutting edge brands like Nike.

Comments on Jeremiah Owyang’s Web Strategy Field Report on Hong Kong and China

 Industry Watch 10 October 2007

Jeremiah Owyang, senior analyst at Forrester Research as well as an insanely prolific and incredibly insightful web strategist blogger based in the US, recently visited Hong Kong where he had multiple meetings with Internet players who provided him various impressions of the Asian, and especially the Chinese, Internet. Too bad he couldn’t make it up to the mainland where I think he would have gotten an even richer view of what’s happening in China.


IWOM Watch September 1-15: Mazda owners surround a Hummer

 Industry Watch 8 October 2007

Here is a sample from our recent CIC watch September 1-15 showing a darker side of consumers’ passion.

Recently, 20 Nanjing Mazda owners from an auto forum surrounded a Hummer on a highway at 30 km/hour speed, forcing the Hummer to drive the same speed as a bicycle. After doing this, these owners shared the video online with pride. To play a joke with netizens, they even used extremely crude, defiant language and showed their photos on BBS. Their activity triggered strong condemnation for bringing shame to not only their group, but also their family, their hometown, Mazda brand, and even Nanjing government. Finally, the incident leader of the Mazda 6 community in Nanjing apologized online.


IWOM Watch Aug 16-31: KFC on Baidu Zhidao

 Industry Watch 18 September 2007

We are always excited to see brands come up with initiatives which enable them to actually participate in consumers’ online discussions and communities.
Recently, we saw that KFC launched a branded channel on Baidu Zhidao, a popular online Q&A service. The channel provides a platform for consumers to discuss nutrition. Of course there might be questions to what degree consumers would give credibility of a nutrition channel sponsored by a fast food restaurant, however, we see this an interesting step. We are also beginning to see companies place official representatives on Baidu Post bar.


IWOM manager titles a trend

 Industry Watch 7 September 2007

In the last year, as we have developed deeper relationships with our clients and as have come to really understand the power and impact of IWOM, we have begun to talk about the need for our clients to have a position of IWOM manager. This person would be familiar with the key online communities and blogs related to the client. Even more, the person would work to develop relationships with the forum administrators, bloggers and forum owners to help communicate and translate the client’s messages and voice into the world of IWOM through authentic communication and engagement. Most importantly, this person would work in the organization at the cross section of PR, marketing, market research, media, advertising and even product development to ensure IWOM is integrated systematically and strategically. What is validating is that such there are already such positions in the U.S. Do a search on, a job board aggregator, for “social media” and you will find 552 jobs (as of September 1, 2007), many of which are for social media managers. (I am using social media instead of IWOM because it is a more common term in the US).


IWOM Watch August 1-15: Baidu Post Bar Crushing Machines

 Industry Watch 24 August 2007

Recently a series of Baidu “Post Bar” Crushing incidents have attracted our attention as an interesting, if not disturbing representation of Chinese Net Culture. It is important to note that Baidu “Post Bar” is an absolute cultural force online, especially as a host for some of the most active popular singer fan clubs. I discussed this phenomena around “Super Girl” Li Yu Chun in a post last year where singers like Li Yuchun have literally million of messages from fans. Also, for further backdrop on the darker side of net culture, see my post last year about “Internet Manhunts.”


Net language: Implications for Search Engine Marketing

 Industry Watch 20 August 2007

Last week, I discussed net language for automotive industry, with some examples around Ford Focus.
Looking at Ford Focus net language, according to the 93,721 messages mentioning Focus in our June data set of BBS messages, the official Chinese name “福克斯” gets the most number of mentions with 50% of all Focus BBS messages mentioning this term. “小福” (Little “Fu”) gets 25%, and FKS gets 15% (a single message may have more than one mention of a nickname).


Hey DX, hope you like this post on net language for auto industry

 Industry Watch 16 August 2007

Just in case you missed it, we have been having a series of articles on our Chinese language blog about net language on BBS and blogs for certain categories like IT, automotive, beauty care. We also have an overall view of net language.
We thought about translating all of them, but since a good bit of the meaning is lost in translation, I will just summarize one of the more interesting ones for automotive category. Net language for automotive is quite rich, so the below is far from comprehensive, but will give you a taste.


CIC Watch July 16-31: Transformers arrive, “Group Watch” kicks in

 Industry Watch 13 August 2007

With the massive popularity of the Transformers movie in China, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight some community activities the movie has inspired as an introduction to our newest CIC watch. In one of the CIC watch articles highlight the phenomena “Group Watch (团看)” which is similar in some ways to “Group Purchase (团购)“. With Group Watch, participants can gain free admission to the movie or at least a discount. I have pasted the article below.


CIC watch July 1-15: Net stars only getting bigger

 Industry Watch 5 August 2007

I am happy to announce that our CIC Watch report covering July 1-15 has been released. In this issue, one interesting topic is about Net stars. Those who have read my blog for some time know that I have written about this topic before (see here and here among others).
With this article, “The Growing Commercial Perspective of Net Stars” we can see that the impact/influence of net stars is increasing with the signing of ‘Xiao Pang’ to a movie deal with New Line Cinema.


CIC Watch Half-Year Review released

 Industry Watch 31 July 2007

I am happy to share our bi-annual review edition of our CIC watch report which you can download here. For the review, we pulled out some of the more interesting stories from our twice monthly CIC watch and put them into 3 categories including L+K+P IWOM Philosophy, Online Video Gains Foothold, and Netizens’ Online Collaboration.


Roles within Chinese online communities

 Industry Watch 3 July 2007

Last week we released our “The Talk About Phones” white paper. In the paper, we touched a bit on Chinese online community dynamics.
I thought it was pretty cool then to see that Matthew Hurst, on his excellent Data Mining blog recently referenced an article presented at the Communities and Technologies conference. The article, titled Visualizing the Signatures of Social Roles in Online Discussion Groups, was written by Howard T. Welser from Cornell University, Eric Gleave from University of Washington and Microsoft Research, and Danyel Fisher and Marc Smith from Microsoft Research.


iPhone in China? Nokia and Motorola dominate the IWOM

 Industry Watch,Personal 2 July 2007

Sage from Pacific Epoch, in his column for MarketWatch, deftly integrates discussion of CIC’s “Talk About Phones” white paper into analysis of Apple’s opportunity for marketing the iPHONE in China. The column is provocatively titled “Apple not a factor in China handheld market.” I wish I had thought of this angle when we released the paper last week.

CIC releases mobile phone white paper: “The Talk About Phones”

 Industry Watch 25 June 2007

We are very happy to announce the release of our new white paper, “The Talk About Phones: An overview of Internet Word of Mouth discussions around mobile phones on Chinese BBS.” We believe it serves as a nice example of the type of analysis and insight that can be done with Internet Word of Mouth (IWOM). While the paper does focus on the mobile phone industry, we do think it has implications that can be applied to almost any industry with a significant amount of IWOM.


Really Understanding Efluencers and IWOM

 Industry Watch,Personal 19 June 2007

We have been thinking a bit more about the concept of “efluencers,” our term for “online influencers.” My colleague Jason shares his ideas here (and my ideas on how this is reflective of CIC’s culture is here). Let me build on Jason’s ideas…. One of the visuals that we present to clients which can make a strong impression is the “80/20” rule of community content creators such as the one below taken from our upcoming mobile phone white paper. The paper, which covers Q1 2007 conversations, will be released this week.


Flickr issues on seeisee

 Industry Watch 12 June 2007

As many of you in China probably know, Flickr images are currently blocked in China. For more info in English, see here. What this means for this blog is that alot of the images are not available. It will be a massive headache to fix this, so we are going to try to wait it out to see if the issue will be resolved. Thanks for your patience.

IWOM industry news from the West

 Industry Watch 7 May 2007

A very interesting week last week for IWOM with multiple deals that further validate the industry.
*Nielsen buys the remaining shares (48%) of Buzzmetrics. See here.
*Reuters acquires ClearForest text mining firm to beef up its business intelligence services. See here.
*Collective Intellect and Wall Street On Demand form strategic partnership to create comprehensive research platform for institutional investors. See here.


Text Mining at CIC

 Industry Watch 17 April 2007

I am posting Paul’s own translation of his post on text mining, demonstrating the “tech” side of CIC.
At CIC, the core of our business is our data mining technology. Data mining has gained some awareness with the general public with an urban legend referring to “Beer and Diapers” (see here and here).


Google China spamming bloggers?

 Industry Watch 19 March 2007

Tangos at China Web 2.0 blog has a very interesting and articulate post about Chinese A-List bloggers allegedly receiving “spam” mail in the form of unsolicited press releases from Google China and/or its agency. If this is true, then it is unfortunate for such a great brand to fall into such trap.



 Industry Watch 19 March 2007

At CIC, we have developed a model for helping our clients understand and make sense of IWOM. We call this LISTEN-KNOW-PARTICIPATE. This is a model that has come from working with clients and IWOM for over two years. It is not my philosopy…rather, it is our philosophy. We articulated it as a result of a number of internal strategy sessions.


SEEISEE blog Chinese article summary (Feb 1st – March 7th )

 Industry Watch 19 March 2007

As you may know, we have a Chinese language blog here. If you check it out, you will see that it is much more active than my blog. I am going to try to do a better job about summarizing what we are talking about there. Below is the first attempt, though you can see that it is already dated. Another update coming this week.


TNS buys Cymfony to compete with Nielsen in IWOM

 Industry Watch 27 February 2007

I am on vacation, but gotta make a quick comment on some pretty big news in our industry. It was announced this week that TNS (Taylor Nelson Sofres), one of the largest market research firms in the world, purchased Cymfony, one of the market leaders in IWOM in the US. Cymfony will now become part of TNS Media Intelligence.


NY Times: Internet Boom in China Is Built on Virtual Fun

 Industry Watch 5 February 2007

Building on the MySpace Typhoon that is fast approaching, NY Times (thanks Nicolas) has a decent overview of the biggest player MySpace would need to compete with: QQ
While America’s Internet users send e-mail messages and surf for information on their personal computers, young people in China are playing online games, downloading video and music into their cellphones and MP3 players and entering imaginary worlds where they can swap virtual goods and assume online personas. Tencent [QQ] earns the bulk of its revenue from the entertainment services it sells through the Internet and mobile phones. Another distinguishing feature is the youthful face of China’s online community. In the United States, roughly 70 percent of Internet users are over the age of 30; in China, it is the other way around — 70 percent of users here are under 30, according to the investment bank Morgan Stanley.


CIC in Wall Street Journal re MySpace

 Industry Watch 5 February 2007

We are quoted in the weekend edition of Wall Street Journal. See here for PDF version and here for Chinese translation from Pigwatch blog.

CIC in Wall Street Journal re Starbucks

 Industry Watch 20 January 2007

The Wall Street Journal (article behind paid firewall) covers the latest company crisis started on social media. At CIC, we call this Crisis 2.0 (crisis starts on blog/BBS, and then is picked up by mainstream media). This is the first of 2007, but the article gives a quick summary of some of the bigger ones in 2006:


CIC watch: “You” – Time’s Person of the Year – also lives in China

 Industry Watch,Personal 19 January 2007

On the main SeeISee blog, we have placed an introduction and sample report for one of our services, CIC watch. You can check it out here.
The sample is a 6 month IWOM “greatest hits” sort of summary as it relates to marketing, PR and branding.
Hope you like it.

Chinese Blogs, BBS and the Automobile Industry, Part 1: I-WOM Channels

 Industry Watch,Personal 31 October 2006

In the past two years, CIC data has been developing the technology and the expertise to help companies in China track conversations on BBS and blogs. We call the space we are in I-WOM: Internet Word of Mouth. Most recently, we have been focused on developing specific industry practices. One of those practices is automobile.


Automobile: In China, the Chery Army sounds-off online

 Industry Watch,Personal 27 August 2006

Recently, US based Nielsen Buzzmetrics’ Bill Stephenson wrote about China’s Chery Automobile on his Automobuzz blog, saying that while there are few messages on BBS (online message boards) in the US about Chery for now, he expects that this will change when the car makes it expected debut in the US within the next couple of years. He advised US based automobile brands:


Baidu Post Bar and Super Girl fans

 Industry Watch,Personal 11 May 2006

Li Yu Chun, aka Super Girl, aka LYC, aka ChunChun still has quite a fan base. Just take her fan “bar” on Baidu post bar. Since June 25, 2005:

17,512,136 posts
926,656 topics


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