Latest Entries »

What’s the difference between a social media plan and a public relations plan? It’s not only about applying different tools.

How to make a social media plan specific and attainable? It’s not only about listing creative ideas.

For my last post this semester at NYU, I will give some advice on drafting a real social media plan, based on my hands-on experience.

picture from

1. Background Analysis.

Don’t only rely on the organization’s official website. You need more objective descriptions from websites like Wikipedia.

2. Research:

Besides content analysis, do some surveys actively. Your social media accounts are great places to give a poll.

3. Social Media Objectives:

Break it down to at least two points, rather than repeat the business objective with social media jargon.

4. Audiences:

Categorize the audiences to be primary v.s. secondary, or long-term v.s. short-term.

5. Key Messages:

It’s not separated from other steps. An insightful way is to find the unique selling points of the organization, then transfer them into key messages.

6. Strategies:

Talk to your colleagues and listen to their ideas. Two brains will always be better than one.

Be neither too general nor too detailed. Some feasible options include “multiple media”, “campaigns” or “social media conversations”.

7. Tactics:

Timeline is essential, which can be elaborated in a chart. Be creative, instead of copying plain words from existing social media plans.

8. Measurement:

It’s easier and clearer to correspond to the lists of social media objectives.

As a conclusion, three key points you should remember when making a social media plan are: Brevity, bullets and correspondence. If you still want an instructive guide, please check out, which helped me a lot while I compiled my own social media plan.

Hands-on experience is most beneficial. Do you have any tips based on your own experience?


Mike Daisey (Picture from

Foxconn, a prominent manufacturing company in China, whose clients include Apple, Dell, Amazon and many others, suffered a storm sparked by Mike Daisey’s fabricated monologue. Mike Daisey exaggerated the bad working conditions in Foxconn’s factory in his show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”, and a following public radio program “This American Life”.

After being questioned, Mike Daisey claimed his falsehood was to sacrifice some tiny truth for artistic effect, or maybe he just wanted to make up a stunt. Whatever the case, Foxconn did have a crisis, along with its clients.

Then how did Foxconn react? Nothing.

Mike Daisey’s monologue “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” has been rolling since October 2011. It stirred the U.S., yet Foxconn in China seemed ignorant and didn’t defend itself until journalists questioned the authenticity of Mike Daisey’s words. Even after Mike Daisey admitted his falsehoods and offered an apology, Foxconn denied that it would take legal actions against these falsified shows. All Foxconn had done was standing in the corner like an outsider. Foxconn’s reluctant reaction made all the falsehoods look so true.

As a comparison, Apple turned its crisis into an opportunity. Right after the criticisms of its supply chain vendor, Apple asked the Fair Labor Association, an independent auditor, to review the manufacturing plants it used. What’s more, Apple’s new CEO, Timothy D. Cook, visited Foxconn Technology’s manufacturing plant for the iPhone to show his concern about employees. A following NYTimes article compared Apple’s quick reaction and its rivals to reinforce Apple’s image as a responsible enterprise, which turned the corner perfectly.

Foxconn should learn a lesson from this threatening but not dangerous storm. First, it should enhance its media monitoring system to keep updated with what people are talking about Foxconn. Second, it should prepare some standby statements, and react quickly and sincerely if facing a risk of crisis. Third, it should use law tools to protect itself from defamation. Fourth and the most important, good performance comes before communication. Maybe it’s time Foxconn put more energy on improving its working condition and employee welfare in China.

Bo Xilai -- Picture from

A recent Chinese political storm – the removal of the former Chongqing City mayer – has covered the headlines of major media outlets in the U.S. Bo Xilai is catching more eyes than Jeremy Lin. However, when I searched his name on Baidu, an equivalent of Google in China, the news stopped abruptly before Mar 15th, which was the date he was dismissed.


Then where are the voices of Chinese? We don’t care, or we can’t care?

1. Chinese do care about hot topics. On the Chinese Facebook, we are discussing the public resignation letter of a former employee in Goldman Sachs heatedly. A HongKong actor’s social media account was sieged by millions of Chinese netizens, after he was accused of bullying actors from the Mainland.

The problem is, Chinese netizens have limited free access to any topic except politics in China. It’s been two weeks since Bo Xilai was ousted, but we never heard a word from Bo Xilai himself. Chinese audience has no idea what’s going on behind the screen, let alone netizens out of China. The Chinese government knows they can’t direct the public opinion, so it simply blocks the news source, which leaves Chinese netizens nowhere to begin arguing.

2. Chinese netizens are crazy about having a voice. I mentioned that Chinese netizens flooded President Obama’s G+ Page when they found it hadn’t been blocked by the Great Firewall. In China, numerous netizens are ridiculing the Chinese government via all kinds of social media, with words like “Read ASAP, or it will be deleted by the censorship soon.”

Picture from

Chinese enjoy these “resistance discourse” because anonymity of social media gives them a sense of privacy and security. Unfortunately, the limited freedom is being invaded by censorship inevitably. According to New York Times, Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, has to require real-name registration and review the posts of influencers, according to a new government rule. Chinese’s only freedom online is being ate in.

Different from Bo Xilai’s destiny, Chinese netizen’s future is difficult to predict. To be, or not to be, that is the question.

Jeremy Lin, made in USA

Is there anything not made in China?

Toys, clothing and Yao Ming, a former NBA player, all are included. However, there’s one made in the USA and welcomed warmly in China, Jeremy Lin. His legendary rising and inherent connection with China created great opportunities for American business aimed at the Chinese market.

First, Jeremy Lin draws the Chinese audience’s attention back toward topics of the NBA games.

According to one article in NYTimes, “The retirement last year of Yao Ming, a basketball star from mainland China, deprived the N.B.A. of its main Asian draw. But Jeremy Lin’s emergence has at least temporarily strengthened the league as a centerpiece of Chinese online chatter.”

Second, the business quickest to use Jeremy Lin’s image in China will get the benefit.

Another article in NYTimes claims that Jeremy Lin signed a two-year marketing partnership contract with the safest car – Volvo. Jeremy Lin will appear in Volvo advertising in the United States and China, as well as other Chinese-speaking areas in Asia.

Then how well is Jeremy Lin’s image conveyed to the Chinese Audience? Is he as influential as that in the U.S.?

Jeremy Lin is popular enough in China. A blog post in NYTimes shows that Jeremy Lin was the most-searched athlete on the Internet in China, eclipsing Kobe Bryant and the soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, to most Chinese audience, Jeremy Lin is still an abstract symbol. All that the Chinese know about Jeremy Lin is he is a quickly rising Asian-American NBA star. We want to know more about Jeremy Lin as an individual, but not a Knicks’ promotion video with only English subtitles, or Jeremy Lin’s Chinese twitter account which doesn’t plan to interact with us. The Chinese depends more on personal relations than rational thoughts to make their purchase decisions.

Jeremy Lin’s Twitter and Weibo accounts — Screenshot by Sandy

I have two suggestions for Jeremy Lin to manage his public image in China.

First, hire someone to manage his social media account, and interact with the Chinese audience as a human. When we compare Jeremy Lin’s social media accounts, we can find his twitter account has around 0.6 million followers, while his Chinese twitter – account has 2.6 million followers. Four times larger. So we can see the Chinese form a great potential market.

Secondly, use his relationship with Chinese celebrities like Yao Ming, the most credible third party for him in China. Though Yao Ming failed his math exams in university days before, he’s still a thought leader in China, favored by almost all the Chinese. If Jeremy Lin and Yao Ming enhance their relationship, then Lin will seem more accessible to the public and expand his awareness in China.

“Occupy Obama” on Google+ China

Chinese netizens shocked the world when they flooded President Obama’s Google+ Page. Nine out of ten comments were written in simplified Chinese, which somewhat bewildered American readers. What’s more, the U.S. media made it more chaotic with their funny interpretations.


Picture by Sandy Qin

Media: “They talked about occupying the furniture and bringing snacks and soft drinks”.

Readers: What? There is a huge demand for furniture in the Chinese market?

Sandy: “Sofa” means to be the first to comment. It‘s a Chinese Internet meme. There were some video parlors showing porn in China in 1990s. Since the rooms in video parlors were small, the first that arrived could sit on the sofa, the second might sit on a chair, and the last could only sit on the floor. When the generation who were teenagers in 1990s grew up, they brought this term into the Internet.

Social media muse: The biggest part of Chinese netizens are young people. Universities students of this part are more open to new media like Google+. They are the market to please.

“Please free us”

Picture by Sandy Qin

Media: “Some more extreme comments urged President Obama to work ‘to free’ the Chinese people”.

Readers: The comments placed on President Obama’s site are genuine pleas for help.

Sandy: This is a common humor of Chinese netizens. Because Chinese citizens have to be careful about words used in daily lives, they enjoy the freedom of anonymous online communities. They celebrate this freedom with ironies and jokes.

Social media muse: Chinese favors anonymity, because they can say whatever they like. Google+ which seems powerful after it somehow circumvented the censorship in China, makes Chinese users more audacious.

“We have no chance to occupy our president Hu, he hates internet an dhas no account on any website, so we can just occupy Obama, forgive us…”

Picture by Sandy Qin

Media: “It’s not exactly clear why these new users have chosen President Obama’s official reelection campaign page as their rallying point”.

Readers: I didn’t know President Obama is so popular in China.

Sandy: For Chinese Netizens, it doesn’t matter whose page it is, as long as it’s a top famous person. President Obama became the lucky one because most Chinese netizens don’t care much about his approval rating. They only care about the big names.

Social media muse: Chinese netizens are willing to “occupy” their own leaders if they are given a social media platform to do so, sneakily.

Chinese netizens feel sorry for commenting in simplified Chinese. However, I think this phenomenon will go on, as many Chinese netizens don’t even take a look at the President’s posts, they just reply for fun.

The busy Social Media Week has come to an end, but some PR practitioners haven’t found the time to participate in even one panel. Don’t worry. Here are two websites where you can find a brief review and videos of Social Media Week 2012:

  1. Social Media Week in Review
  2. Social Media Week on LiveStream

Among the numerous events and related articles, the issue of global strategy catches my eye.


Social Media

Last Thursday, Devrin Carlson-Smith from Big Fuel discussed with two managers from Facebook Inc., focusing on “how to build a global Facebook architecture for a global brand.” “Brand” here means those that business publicize via Facebook pages.

According to the panel, there are two options for Facebook to extend its brands into global markets.

1. Global appeal: One master page in consolidated control, which has links to other global pages.

2. Local appeal: One master page and other different page versions localized by countries and language settings.


Social Business

Facebook should deliberate the two options to enhance social media, but brands should broaden their views from “social media” to “social business.” Fred Cavazza, a freelancer, gave an insightful explication about social business.

By social business, Fred Cacazza means that business can’t rely on only the few top social media platforms, but should incorporate various social media into a unified vision, to serve the business goal.



In terms of global business, I suggest that global brands choose local social media platforms to build up local reputation. For example, Renren, as the biggest social networking site in China, links with a considerable Chinese market. Adding that Facebook is blocked within the Chinese market, Renren’s localization advantage may outweigh any branched or master pages of Facebook in the short term.

Which do you think is a better global strategy, social media or social business?

One Tweet Sparks a Conflagration

Twitter assists another feat in ruining someone’s image. Roland Martin, a commentator for CNN, was suspended last Wednesday for his homophobic tweets.

Let’s recap how the 140-word-limit social medium made the big splash.

On Feb 5, 2012, Roland Martin tweeted, “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl.”

Photos from;;

Later that day, GLAAD responded, “@rolandsmartin Advocates of gay bashing have no place at @CNN #SuperBowl #LGBT.”

GLAAD followed with a series of posts on its website claiming “Advocates of anti-gay violence have no place at CNN or Time Warner.

GLAAD even started a special vote pushing CNN to fire Roland Martin.

Roland Martin defended himself as mocking soccer fans, not gay people. However, outraged comments kept emerging.

On Feb 8, 2012, CNN announced it suspended Roland Martin for his “regrettable and offensive” tweets during the Super Bowl.

It’s amazing that the whole affair sparked from the Internet, flared up on the Internet, and ended with Roland Martin paying the price in the real world. The little tweets prove their power again.

Twitter is not to be taken for granted any more; we should learn a lesson:

1. Don’t grandstand too much. Social media like Twitter gives us a feeling of achievement when our posts occasionally catch people’s eyes. Therefore, many people keep pretentious risking their images as Roland Martin did. But we can’t go crazy on creating nonsense jokes, or we might sacrifice our reputations for nothing.

2. Identify who you represent. Before typing a word, position yourself as professional or personal. From Roland Martin’s case we can only see a thoughtless person posting on Twitter what should have been on Facebook. He should have tweeted as a professional and insightful commentator.

3. React sincerely. If a crisis is inevitable, then we had better figure out why people get mad, and apologize sincerely. Roland Martin did apologize, but he didn’t make the right point. GLAAD’s outrage on anti-gay views had accumulated for a long time, and Roland Martin’s tweet was just an unfortunate episode. If Roland Martin wants to get out of hot water, he should pay attention to the bigger picture by claiming his support of LGBT rights, instead of repeatedly clarifying whom he was mocking at.

My Social Media History

Can you imagine a life where the most popular social media platforms are blocked? Socializing without access to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, that is what my past looked like. Thank God, I had some equivalents as below.

Picture by Sandy Qin

1. QQ, the AIM of China.

I didn’t start my social network until 2007. My first try was QQ (an instant messaging program like AIM). The specific feature of QQ is anonymity, so many people use it to hook up with strangers, me not included, by the way.

2. Renren, the Facebook of China.

After I entered university, I started to use Renren (a social networking website like Facebook). Renren distinguishes itself with its real-name identification system. I use it to connect with my acquaintances. The posts on my Renren page are discreet, in case some unintentional words might cause misunderstandings and ruin a friendship.

3. Sinaweibo, the Twitter of China.

My colleague in a PR agency opened the Sinaweibo (a microblogging platform like Twitter) account for me, which set the professional tone of this tool in my mind. The advantage of Sinaweibo is I can connect with celebrities and keep pace with real-time affairs.

4. BBS

Among the many BBSs, one I have been using is BDWM BBS (the official BBS of Peking University). It’s a hodgepodge with political news, public announcements, campus gossips, and past exams questions. Particularly, the exams board helped me a lot in raising my marks.

5. the “Big 5”

Once I came to New York, I opened my accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+. Finally I got a chance to feel the real “Big 5”. However, a new problem emerged: When I update my feeds on Facebook, I have to repeat that work on Renren so that friend groups on both sites can see. It takes additional time.

Why not take Doc Searls’ suggestions: Let individuals manage relationships and data ourselves? Organizations should make connections between data bases. When personal data aren’t scattered, this can be called a real global village.