When I got a call asking if I could write content for the Chinese social media channel WeChat, one question came to mind: would I have to translate it into Mandarin? Happily the answer to that was 'no' - the Confucius Institute had the translation covered.
Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) has been running a programme called China-Ready which helps businesses put themselves in the best possible position to attract and impress Chinese visitors. It's a rapidly growing market and official tourism figures show Chinese visitor spend to Scotland has exceeded £43 million over the last three years.
In early 2017 a new strand of the programme was launched, in the shape of Scotland’s first-ever destination campaign on Chinese social media sites Weibo and WeChat.
ETAG describes WeChat as "China’s closest equivalent to WhatsApp and Facebook, and has over 800m active monthly users." Figures from the World Tourism Cities Federation’s 2015 Chinese Outbound Tourism study reported that 75% of Chinese outbound tourists rely on Weibo and WeChat to help with their travel planning (most Chinese nationals are unable to access Google, Facebook and Twitter).
I produced a wide range of written content for the “EdinburghOfficial” WeChat channel, showcasing Edinburgh's visitor attractions, shopping, landscape, culture, festivals, weather and much more. It required a different approach to my usual writing as the majority of the audience would have very limited knowledge of the city. This meant stepping back and writing for a reader who was completely new to the geography and history of the city. The Royal Mile, the cafes where JK Rowling wrote her Harry Potter novels and haggis were all mysteries that had to be explained.
As of June 2017, the EdinburghOfficial social media channels have received more than 30 million impressions. It's been a really enjoyable project to work on and I can't wait to see where China-Ready goes next.