At the end of September 2016, 15 students from EFAP & ESSCA schools made the move to Shanghai to study digital marketing within the China context (presentation of the Master’s degree in French). This blog was an exercise part of their curriculum, and after a couple weeks of adjustment to set-up the tool (powered by WordPress) and struggle with the Chinese firewalls, the real exercise started from January 2017. So, here is a quick review of what happened on this blog for the last 12 months.

What about the blogging exercise?

In a nutshell, our students have to produce a couple of articles on this blog to learn the basics of producing online content (text, images, videos, infographics, etc.). And possibly to also tell about their experience in China. When looking back at it, I think they achieved some pretty amazing results.

To assess the quality of their work, we set up a grade made of 2 specific marks:

  • one about quality of the article (is it intelligible, and well structured? does the article have good sources? the level of language used, and the timeliness of posting)
  • one about the quantitative success, just by checking the metrics on Google Analytics (GA).

However, this article is not about revealing the students’ grades, but to highlight some of their best work during the past year, using both of the mentioned criteria.

What have been the most read articles of this year?

#1 – Chinese e-commerce strategy: E-marketplace, Social e-commerce or own website?

Published by Stéphanie right after Chinese New Year vacations, this article received more than 1,000 pageviews from 828 unique viewers for the entire year 2017 to date. And it actually captures very well one of the main challenges many companies and brands are facing when entering the China market: how should they reach out to consumers and sell online in China?

This is definitely a 3-minute-and-8-second read worth of time (if I believe GA) to get to know better the Chinese digital environment. Other top articles by Stéphane include Luxury and Digital in China: E-commerce Precursors & The top 5 apps to download in China (co-written with Xavier).

#2 – Best places to eat in Shanghai

When a bunch of French students go abroad to study, they quickly create a list of their favorite restaurants! This article is really about that. And from a statistics point of view, it also generated a surge of traffic when it has been published on 22nd and 23rd of March.

The author, Géraldine, not only crafted a great article with many pictures and useful information. But she also made a solid promotion of it (562 of the 995 pageviews come from Facebook while 184 come from a search on Google). You can also check her other articles: WeChat: From the Messaging App to the Super AppAI Driven Marketing: The value of Chatbots for Businesses.

#3 –  Study in Shanghai: everything you need to know

With this article, Benjamin & Xavier tried a different type of content and they have decided to relate their experience of studying in China. They offered a couple of important tips and also, a nice selection of useful mobile applications for their daily life here.

Although they missed offering links to all these apps (“put some link, hit Cmd+K or Ctrl+K!!!”), this article has been very successful. And once again, Facebook played a great part to generate traffic to it (393 out of the 935 pageviews, 42%)

#4 – Music Experience in China: Tencent, unstoppable leader

An avid music listener, Xavier (him again) created an impressive article about the different music services existing in China. Not only listing them, he also went as far as created videos to demo some of these services and embedding them in the article (we actually struggled a bit to upload them on Chinese equivalents of YouTube).

In addition to that, he listed most of the references he used while writing the article and made a great at listing all these keywords for proper tag management within WordPress.

#5 – 6 Things to know about digital in China

Benjamin (him again too!), coined a great article about basic and important knowledge regarding the Chinese digital landscape. Short, straightforward and well-documented, this article provides a good jump start to any exploration of digital China. And I do hope some students will take the time this year to update and expand it.

#6 – How to get delivered food in China with (饿了么)

In this perfect example of a long-tail article (look at the traffic below), Pierre has created a simple, down-to-earth guide to use, a very popular food delivery (外卖) mobile application used by millions here. Despite the rough English and funny layout, this article has certainly delivered the right information and been useful to many. Well done!

#7 – O2O, A Revolution Led by China

The term has been discussed for the last few years within the digital marketing circles of China, but actually never been really explained in details in English. And that’s why Charlie decided to take care of it in a well-written article, featuring different examples of what Online-to-Offline commerce is all about.

#8 – Les Gafa sont morts, vive les Gafabat !

Finally, since we’re a French business & communications partnership of schools, the last article of this top 8 ranking has been written in the language of Molière by Clara. The topic? The GAFABAT and a lengthy explanation of the meaning of this acronym (hint: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent). Clara also authored another worth-reading article about Chinese tourists around the world (ranked #11): Le Profil Du Touriste Chinois Et Comment Le Capter.

Other articles worth a read for this review

Although they are not listed in the top 8, some articles would deserve a special attention for various reasons.

Thibaud came up with an idea to tell the stories of major Chinese digital/tech entrepreneurs in China. So, if you ever wonder who are Jack Ma, Robin Li or Ma Huateng, click on their name. And if you want to know more about who founded companies like Xiaomi (Lei Jun), LENS Technology (Zhou Qunfei), AAC Technologies (Pan Zhengmin), or DJI (Frank Wang), here is your chance! Kudos to Thibaud for this wealth of information! (NB: articles are written in French, feel free to use Google Translate, the only Google service available in China by the way!)

Another interesting series of articles came from the other Xavier, about a topic that he already knew would become newsworthy: the BitcoinAn introduction to Bitcoin and the history behind it (ranked #10 of the most read article of this blog) & The rise of the Bitcoin and its situation in China are 2 articles rich in information and extremely well sourced.

In the hot news category, the WeChat Mini App (微信小程序) has been certainly one. If Clara was explaining what it would be about in French (WeChat: l’arrivée des mini-programmes), Julie-Anne gave a comprehensive and excellent overview what they are few months after their official launch (WeChat: an essential overview of Mini Programs)

One of the major events of the year 2016 was the opening of the Shanghai Disneyland. Mathieu related the experience of his visit with his fellow classmates here: Disneyland Shanghaï : Un parc à la pointe de la technologie (in French). 

Since their digital strategy could be considered as a good benchmark for many foreign brands entering China, you will certainly hear a lot about Starbucks during the coming month of this blog. But before that, take the time to read Étienne & Xavier’s article about their app: We tried Starbucks innovative social gifting through WeChat.

Another necessary introduction about Chinese digital landscape is the role played by Alibaba as one of the main forces to embrace an all-things-digital approach. This introduction can be found in Arnaud’s article here (in French and with a pretty rare photograph of Jack Ma): Alibaba, la nouvelle vitrine mondiale qui fait trembler Amazon.

Victoria’s Secret recently made the headlines of the Chinese media, holding its first fashion show in the city. Well, 10 months ago Élodie covered their opening of their first store in China: Victoria’s Secret first lingerie store in China.

Last but not least, this year has been full of different events during which our students have participated and often covered on Twitter using the #MBADMB hashtag. One of the most important conferences was definitely the China Chat Conference (official website). Lauranne & Charlie co-authored a solid review of it here: Highlights from China Chat Conference 2017.

 Some key points to create great articles

A review would not be a good one if we wouldn’t be able to take a step back, and have some basic analysis of what has been done so far. Between all these articles, I have somehow identified few common points. Points that I want to capture and pass along to the next class (and anyone willing to create some good online content):

  • A good topic, discussed by the major media or not even covered yet, is a usually fundamental prerequisite (and China has plenty of them). An approach from a different angle, a bridge to cross-cultural and language barriers, can also be a solid base for a good article.
  • Use of rich & interactive media to improve the article: videos, GIFs, pictures, infographics, links are the main ways to enrich an article. There are much more that can be tried such as social media integration, text formatting, live streaming to name a few.
  • Create useful content: life in a foreign country is not always easy. Sharing good tips and favorite places, creating how-to guides, providing step-by-step instructions is usually a great way to turn information into something useful and practical.
  • English or French: the analytics are showing that articles written in the English language have been far more popular on this blog. However French is equally important. As this blog is an exercise overall, we encourage students to experiment and find their voice in the language of their choice.
  • Quality writing (spelling, grammar, careful choice of words): in 2017, we are rather lucky to have great tools available such as Microsoft Word, Grammarly (for English writing), BonPatron or Scribens (for French writing), or even a smart usage of the quotes “” on Google can help a lot to correct major mistakes, polish a text and make its reading enjoyable for anyone.

In conclusion, I want to thank personally all these students with I have learned a lot throughout this year. To Arnaud, Benjamin, Charlie, Clara, Élodie, Étienne, Géraldine, Julie-Anne, Lauranne, Mathieu, Pierre, Stéphanie, Thibaud and Xavier & Xavier, thanks a lot and I wish you only the best in your future endeavors! 

What’s next?

Next year (actually next week), from January 2nd, 16 students of the ’17-’18 promotion will start the exercise. China is continuing its digitalization (or digitization?) and I hope we can continue to cover parts of it in this blog.

After this review, we are passing the baton to Alexandre, Alice, Benjamin, Eléa, Eyal, Florence, Germain, Jade-Loune, Ludovica, Margot, Marie, Marie-Victoire, Paul, Sarah and Thibault & Thibaut. I am confident they will all create some great stuff on this blog.

Happy New Year 2018 to all of our readers! And stay tuned for more articles! 😊