Michael O'Neill
Sep 20, 2011

Renren: more than China's Facebook

SPIKES ASIA - Alvin Chiang, chief marketing officer at Chinese social networking site Renren, spoke to delegates at Spikes Asia 2011 about building creativity into social media.

Alvin Chiang, chief marketing officer of Renren
Alvin Chiang, chief marketing officer of Renren

Chiang's session addressed the audience with an important question: as more and more consumers move to social media as their primary media platform, what challenges and opportunities does this present to creatives, especially in China?

He began his presentation with an introduction to Renren. "We cannot talk about creativity without first understanding the user experience," he said.

Chiang said the common interpretation of Renren as a Chinese clone of Facebook was flawed and that in fact there were striking differences between the two, both in terms of the user interface and with regards to monetisation points.

In particular, he showed how Renren has innovated in terms of how it has been engaging brands with consumers over the past four or five years, and how it has been experimenting with creative ideas and formats. "The demands have been pretty challenging for us," he said. "But we have gone through over 1000 brand 'experiments' with both local and international clients. And having run so many diverse campaigns, we can identify the moments of truth, the shared patterns for the success of social media creativity." 

Chiang then introduced a number of brand case studies from the likes of Olay and McDonald's to highlight how successful social media campaigns have needed to redefine the concept of creativity from a media platform point of view. By incorporating the brand message into the user's online and offline social network, Chiang showed how the best social media branding is that which can be transformed into "user generated branding".

With a user base of 190 million and with each user connected to an average of 180 friends, he concluded that creativity on Renren and other social networking sites needs to be directly involved with the platform's key asset — its users and their social graph and their own content.

Campaign China

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