Content marketing is currently one of the most important trends in digital, and it’s one that presents a huge challenge for Western brands hoping to expand into the Asia-Pacific region.

It’s tempting to view the region as one entity for marketing campaigns, but language and cultural barriers mean that really isn’t the case.

To find out more about how to approach content marketing in APAC, I spoke to Julia Tan from Mynewsdesk in Singapore.

For more on digital marketing in Asia-Pacific, you can also check out our other interviews in this series:

And if you’re a client-side marketer who would like to be interviewed on the blog please email me at david.moth@econsultancy.com.

Now, here are Julia’s view on content marketing...

Where should marketers do their research before beginning content marketing in Asia?

There’s a lot of information available online that will give a broad insight into different cultures, but the real insights come from speaking to local people.

You need to understand how information is communicated, how people speak to each other and the priorities in each society.

That will in turn reflect how the market responds to a brand.

So for example, in big cities in Indonesia and Thailand traffic jams are an everyday part of life, so brands might want to reflect that in how they communicate with people, both in the messaging and the channel they choose.

This research has to be an ongoing process, not just a one-off event, as people in Asia tend to be overly polite so it can take a while to get an accurate view of what people really think of your product or messaging.

What channels do you use to promote your own business at Mynewsdesk?

The main channel is our newsroom, as we believe very much in owned media.

We do some reports and white papers to attract inbound leads.

Do you have teams in each market to localise the content?

Yes, the content has to be localised. For example we have a team in England and here in Singapore, and although we use the same language you can’t just assume the same content will work in both markets.

Within Asia-Pacific is it possible to take a unified approach to content marketing or does it have to be done on a country-by-country basis?

There is no unified approach at all. 

It’s common for multinational companies to be overambitious as Asia has huge potential, but there are also many barriers to entry.

You have to consider the differences in culture, language and business practices.

In some countries there’s a huge difference between rural and urban environments, while in Singapore we are very Western influenced.

As many regional offices are based here it’s easy for Western businesses to be deceived into thinking they can approach APAC in the same way, but it’s not true.

Before you think about content marketing you might have to consider localising the product.

For example if you are entering a market that already has a vibrant communications market like South Korea, you have to consider how you can market yourself in a way that stands out from the crowd while also respecting the local culture.

So each market should have its own objectives about what you want to achieve for the brand, and from there you can define the tone of your brand and the delivery of your message.

What are the biggest differences between different APAC countries when it comes to content marketing, other than language?

You need to first investigate the available distribution channels, because this will inform the types of content you want to work with.

For example, in Indonesia research has shown that there are more people with mobile phones than there are with bank accounts.

It also has two cities with the largest Twitter populations in the world – Jakarta has the most, while Bandung comes sixth.

I read that in the last election the politicians relied heavily on social media to get their messages across.

Another example is that Instagram is hugely popular in Thailand, so there are a lot of opportunities for brands to experiment with visual messaging.

While in Singapore Facebook is massive, people use it as a news source.

What are the most important trends affecting content marketing in APAC currently?

Firstly, going forward there will be more creativity and risk taking in content marketing, which is unusual as Asian culture is typically risk averse.

This is due to the fact that it’s becoming more difficult to gain share of voice and also that Google is becoming better at weeding out thin content, so brands need to be work harder to grab people’s attention while also creating content that is of value to the user.

This also means that marketers will continue to move away from hard sales information towards knowledge sharing and there will also be more curation of content.

Another important trend is the proliferation of distribution channels.

There are a huge number of channels and it is continuing to grow, with new social channels and content syndication networks appearing all the time.

Brands will have to put a lot more emphasis on adapting their content to different distribution channels.

Communications departments have to be able to function like a media company, which requires skills in digital, video production, analytics and data science.

This will mean that budgets are also likely to increase as there will be a blurring of the lines between marketing and public relations, and everybody will become involved in the content marketing process.

One final question, should brands expanding into Asia hire local staff or rely on local agencies?

I think you need to look at what your priorities are and also consider what stage you are at in the market.

The advantage of hiring local staff is that you can build an organisational culture that reflects local values and the local market.

Working with local agencies means you can bring about a strong impact quickly and effectively, tapping into their local expertise and networks.

Brands often fall into the trap of treating agencies just as additional manpower, but we should also rely on them for local market insights.

This also helps to build your in-house competencies over time and sharpen the skills that are needed.

Econsultancy is hosting APAC roundtables in the next two weeks focusing on marketing automation, email, and behavioural marketing.

A few places are still available. The dates are:

Content Masterclass Conference 2.0 - Maximise the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy - Book here

David Moth

Published 2 June, 2015 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (1)

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin, Head of SEO and Analytics at Personal

Great article David.

I've seen too many copy and paste campaigns from Europe being pushed out to other regions, including APAC. Without considering the nuances, the cultural differences, and the infrastructure challenges (and of course the audience needs), it just turns into an expensive waste of time.

This is a timely topic for me, thanks for sharing.

about 3 years ago

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