Highlights from #TheChinaGap Conference, Sydney, 24 Oct 2013

There was a packed house for the China Gap conference in Sydney

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? 

3 thoughts on “Highlights from #TheChinaGap Conference, Sydney, 24 Oct 2013

  • Sandra Jones

    Thanks for sharing the highlights of such a high profile digital marketing conference. I am sure it will help us gain knowledge on how to manage such events and what all activities can make an event successful.

  • Konrad Markham

    I also attended the summit and gave a presentation on Wine Marketing in China.

    Simon, I agree with your comments. Doing business in China can be a contact sport. It is not for the faint harded. The road to success in China will encounter more than a few speedbumps and roadblocks along the way.

    My takeaway was that those companies that are prepared to invest time and resources to tailor their products and services towards Chinese consumers will be rewarded.

    The Digital Marketing and Social Media tools in China are available now. My presentation aside, the summit gave some great insights on how to use these tools.

    Those New Zealand and Australian companies that understand Chinese consumers and use these tools well will achieve success in China.

    Konrad Markham

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