May is World Trade Month. At the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, we have a team of employees that work to promote NC products all over the world. The total value of international agricultural exports is nearly $4 billion, with the potential to grow.
NCDA&CS operates a marketing office in Beijing to help promote NC Agriculture. Jade Wang works in the China office with social media.
“Jade is very important to us,” said Peter Thornton, assistant director of international marketing. “In this time of trade uncertainty, she develops a strong positive impression of North Carolina among our target audience in China. The use of social media covers a large number of people at a relatively low cost.
“Jade worked for Panasonic, running its social media program, before joining the NCDA&CS team. We are lucky and excited to have her on staff,” Thornton added.
Following is an interview with Jade, as she shares her thoughts on marketing NC agriculture in China and how Chinese social media platforms are an integral part of that promotion.
How is social media different in China?
“There are two dominant social media platforms in China, Weibo and WeChat. Weibo is more like the Chinese version of Twitter and it has around 430 million monthly active users. And WeChat is already a lifestyle for over 1.1 billion Chinese users and it is the combination of many services like a Facebook style platform, wallet (WeChat pay), game center, shopping, travel agency, financial services, conference call, etc.
The way people use Weibo and WeChat for marketing or personal purposes are similar among all social media platforms though Chinese social media platforms are relatively independent since Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are blocked in China.
Chinese social media users tend to spend a lot of time on these platforms. Each person opens their Weibo or WeChat over 150 times every 24 hours.
Chinese social media also has more users (430 million on Weibo and 1.1 billion on WeChat) and more marketing activities (over 10 million organizations operate their social media accounts on either or both platforms).”
Describe your typical work day.
“My major responsibilities include the management of NCDA&CS social media platforms (Weibo & WeChat) and promoting NC agricultural and consumer products through networking and outreaching to potential buyers, importers and pipeline organizations.
Typical work day:
9am: Posting the first “Good Morning” style article to followers so they get used to starting a beautiful day with our warm morning greetings.
9:30am: Reading all NC news from the clips, FB, LinkedIn and related websites to generate ideas for the second article focusing on one particular product. And it is also often related to the recent United States or Chinese festivals, cultural events, inbound/outbound missions or seasonal products as themes.
11:15am: Browsing broader range of NC-related news and articles online and sharing a few articles on Weibo. I also spend the time interacting with followers online.
Noon: Lunch break
Afternoon: Either selecting pictures and/or good topics for a new WeChat long article or often going out to visit potential buyers, import-product grocery stores, a trade show or attending a related seminar to continuously develop networks.”
What NC products do you promote?
“We try to promote everything that North Carolina exports or plans to export to the China market. Most recently, we did promotions for wine, beer, muscadine grape supplement, sweet potato, apple cider, snacks and lumber due to the summer season and trade leads.”
How is agriculture different in China?
Chinese farmers lease a small scale of land from the government and very often each family owns less than half of an acre land or smaller. Therefore, mechanization rate and productivity are both very low.
As one of the largest farming countries, China imports a lot of food products to help feed its 1.4 billion people.
The farming population decreased dramatically from around 80 percent in 1980s to 50 percent recently. Urbanization policy moves around 20 million farmers to towns each year and they are being trained to become industrial workers or working in service industries.
Food safety has been a major concern in recent years mainly due to the abuse of fertilizer and pesticide, which creates a fast growing market for imported products.
What is your favorite part of North Carolina?
“People in North Carolina are very kind and warm-hearted.
North Carolina has some of the most beautiful land in the world including 500 miles of coast, splendid mountain areas and hundreds of endless farms.”
Favorite NC Food?
“Beef sandwich with mashed potato，baked sweet potato with butter，BBQ plate with biscuit，pickled okra，Strawberry shortcake…(so much)”
What do you like to do in your free time?
“Watching movies, cooking, exercising, traveling, walking around places where I can access nature, such as parks, zoos and botanical gardens.”