I attended Australasia’s first China Digital Marketing and Social Media Summit (known on social media as #thechinagap) yesterday in Sydney, Australia. Here are some of my personal observations and outtakes, particularly for New Zealand.
China is big. China is growing. China is different.
Those were some key themes coming through, and both Australia and NZ (and no doubt every other western nation) is slowly awakening to the implications of these three things.
Australia is interested in China, too
New Zealand has a significant advantage in dealing with China, as mentioned in a previous post. However our window of opportunity is running out. Australia is getting closer to a Free Trade Agreement with China, and competes in many of the same industries that NZ competes in (wine, meat, education, tourism, dairy).
The venue for this event was packed out, with a cross-section of organisations from around Australia represented.
The good news (or maybe bad news) is that both NZ and Australia are equally unprepared. While China has been embracing digital and social media with unparalleled ferocity and speed, Australasia has been relegating it to the sidelines, cautiously dipping our toes in the water from time to time. China will really test our fitness for agility, and affinity with social media norms.
It’s complicated: our organisations need some reinvention
Organisations are struggling with the reality that they need to be active in China and do it well, but/and China demands a level of commitment bordering on obsessive. We’re just not used to that.
Social media has caused enough disruption to organisations, now another language and culture is being brought into the mix. It’s not the way we used to do things, but we must figure out a way. Organisations will try many different ways, some more effective than others. And there won’t be one right answer. Agencies and consultancies will also struggle to keep up and reconfigure. That’s one of the reasons why syENGAGE itself decided to promote ourselves simply as a China social media marketing specialist company – out of all the things we can do, this skill and strategy set is one thing that NZ (and maybe Australian) organisations have a real and present need for.
Are we reaching a talent tipping point?
We know that, very soon, demand for bilingual, multicultural, experienced people will be strong. But at the moment, it’s hard for qualified, experienced Chinese immigrants to get a job. It’s even hard for kiwi and Aussie expats with China experience to get jobs, because they don’t fit the normal career path profile recruiters are looking for.
How will this gap resolve itself? Will it be sudden or creeping? My instinct says it will be sudden, as organisations with bilingual, multicultural people start to achieve great results and others sit up and take notice. But ultimately time will tell.
Those are my initial thoughts. Next week, key themes from the conference itself.
Were you there? What were your key takeaways?
Wish you were there? If there was a similar event in New Zealand, what would it look like?