A Chinese Social Media Case Study - Synotrip

Nanjing Marketing Group has used social media and other communication methods to interact the community of tour guides on Synotrip.com, a platform for independent tour guides to directly connect with travelers from around the world. The communication methods we use include Sina Weibo (microblog), an email newsletter, QQ messenger/groups and Sina Blog. We also provide support via phone, email, Skype and QQ.

Our strategy has been to focus on very high-quality interaction with a niche community of independent English-speaking tour guides in China. We have a low budget for this project, so maximizing output with limited resources is key. Our social media presence has helped us:

  1. Raise brand awareness of Synotrip.com, making it by far the most prominent platform for independent English-speaking tour guides in China.
  2. Greatly increase sales of premium tour guide memberships.
  3. Quickly respond to tour guide inquiries and complaints.
  4. Learn of new opportunities to expand the usability and functionality of Synotrip.
  5. Greatly increase the quantity and quality of user-contributed content on Synotrip.com.

Sina Weibo

Sina Weibo is an awesome marketing tool. It’s something like Twitter, but better, more trusted and more active.

We created a microblog on Sina to create an ongoing conversation with our tour guides on the topics of China travel and working as an independent tour guide.

We currently have over 1900 followers and many of them are highly active. They comment and retweet our posts very frequently. For example, see the image below from January 12th. We made 5 posts that day, received 9 retweets and 46 comments from users.

Sina Weibo Case Study

Here are some of our daily activities on the microblog:

We post one or two posts about great Synotrip content added by users. This keeps them involved with the site and teaches them how to use content to gain more business.

We read and reply to other posts made by our followers. Our followers know us so well that they know Synotrip community managers by name.

We post in Weibo groups related to travel and tour guides. This helps draw new tour guides to our Weibo and to Synotrip.

We engage in conversations related to our niche and our brand, even if it doesn’t directly relate to Synotrip. This make us seem more human and enhances our own brand as a platform for tour guides to connect with travelers.

We also post some of the best content added by Synotrip users on our Sina blog two or three times a months. This blog is a way of recognizing those tour guides that have posted outstanding content.

QQ

QQ is the most popular instant messenger in China. It’s commonly used as a customer service tool and that’s how we use it as well. So far, we’ve had 135 tour guides contact us on QQ. Plus, we have an open QQ group, which provides a place for us to have group conversations with tour guides.

We’ve used QQ to:

  • Increase our accessibility for customer support issues.
  • Discuss potential site features and problems with tour guides.

Our Newsletter

We run both Chinese and English email newsletters with a total of over 3,000 subscribers. Our newsletters have been instrumental in increasing sales and increasing user activity.

The last email we sent, which was about premium account price increases in 2012, inspired 17 tour guides to sign up for 6-month or 1 year premium account subscriptions. Very few tour guides do not renew their subscriptions, so this is a recurring revenue stream.

Although very useful for sales, we don’t often push our sales initiatives via email, because that would bore our readers. Instead, our newsletter content is focused on helping tour guides get more business. We provide tips on how to better use Synotrip to get more business, as well as how to use Google and other marketing channels to earn business.

Summary

Each of these communication channels provides a distinct purpose. When used together, and especially in conjunction with our search engine marketing efforts, these communication platforms are greater than the sum of their parts.