Creating Relevant Content in China

Building Content, Content Challenges, All you need to know, Content Writing, Content Marketing, Good Content

This is the first of many articles to come that are for CreLong Media and the challenges I face in China when creating relevant content. I decided to start writing the first article on the part of my job that eats up most of my time; CONTENT.

Building the right content for the right customer is one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. I had a lot of conversations with both clients, journalists and content writers. Honestly, there’s a lot of preconceptions that I hear from clients on what they think their customers like to read. The key word here is “think”.

No big surprise here, so for the heck of it, I decided to dig deeper and check what’s the general thought out there. I wanted to eliminate the word “think” from the conversation and go with facts. I know, I’m not the first one to write about this subject. I do deal with Chinese / English content creation and the game is quite different. Or so, we think! Dreadful word, I know!

Here’s what I usually get to hear from clients about writing content for their companies.

“People don’t like to read.”

“Put more pictures, less text.”

“Content is not deep enough, too simple.”

“Make it really short.”

“Here’s the information we got, just adapt it and push it.”

“Younger people don’t like too much information.”

Do you see the mixed signals I get? On one hand, I’m asked to oversimplify content and push with less then 200 words. INSANE! I know. On the other, I get tasked to put up content that is overly heavy with “industry” related vocabulary.

Now here’s the first fact.

CONTENT IS ALWAYS MEANT FOR THE READERS

I KNOW! Such a basic thing and everyone agrees… Except in it’s application. I try to ask the following to my clients:

“Is the information useful to them or are you just promoting yourself?”

Yeah, I know. Normally, the answer should always be “yes” if you are writing meaningful content. The challenge in China is that content is delivered a lot on WeChat (or Weixin). It delivers both promotional advertisement and content. People get confused about which is which. Even in the way you receive a message. You don’t know until you open it. Here’s an example of what it looks like [LEFT | WeChat Newsletter with non ads content RIGHT| WeChat Newsletter which delivers ads]. But to write content for your readers, you need to know them a little better. Which brings us the second big thing.

TAKE TIME TO KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

How is that different from the first one? The first one is during your writing process. This is BEFORE you even start writing your first article. Again, I’m sure most of you are telling me “that’s common sense!” You would be surprised to know how many times I’ve been asked to start writing before I even got information about the industry.

“Can you write an article for us as soon as possible? Just adapt it from this (read copy-paste here). Deadline is in two days.”

Most clients will dismiss the importance of research. They just see the word count. It’s up to us, super content writers, to make magic happen with little to no information. It’s even more true in China where I get asked very short content to be sent out as soon as possible. It’s challenging because you must balance your professional background with what you client wants to see, like their services and self-promoting content. There’s a catch when you don’t balance it.

AVOID SELF-PROMOTING

Let’s face it, most of your readers are not idiots. If they open up the link, they are probably interested. You lose that interest as soon as you self-promote your services and stop being helpful to your reader. That means a lot of battles with customers to explain the following:

Content management, Generate Leads, Content marketing, learn about content, good content, generate sales

When you write in China, information must be literal many times, because “how would customers know about you?” Due to the platforms in China, there’s a weird need to mention yourself in the articles because WeChat doesn’t open your website, just the article with limited information as to whom it’s coming from. To add to it, WeChat being a mobile platform, there’s always talk about the length of your article. Which brings me to this last bit.

LENGTH DOESN’T MATTER

This is the biggest challenge yet. Everyone is on their smartphone in China. Because of WeChat, there’s this thought that content must be super short. Now, if you add it up with “self-promotion” and “short-content” why would you even read it?! I did some research on ideal content length. Short is good, if the content is constructive and useful. Long is fine too, if the content is interesting. Length really doesn’t matter all that much. Relevant content is by far more important.

I know this article is long. I write to share personal experiences and challenges that I face for the curious ones or other writers out there. And there’s a difference when you write for yourself or for a company. I’ll cover that in a later article for sure. In the meantime, to all the writers out there, stand your ground a little to avoid diluting the quality of your work.

Dragos out!

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Here’s some good reads about good content.

Good VS Great Content

Ideal Length of Content

A Guide To Content Writing

Scooting Around

Hey guys,

My name is Dragriffin and welcome to today’s topic:

Scooting Around

As some of you might know, I got myself a scooter. Nothing prestigious of course. Your regular electric scooter with the cliché stickers all over it. I look like a genuine hipster riding this little guy (or girl. I don’t know if my scooter has a sex, don’t care either). Why did I get a scooter? Not because I’m lazy. Maybe a bit. Coffee shopBut mainly, because it’s really nice to explore a city by bike and/or scooter and get to nice coffee shop like the one I’m in right now. I’ve been biking quite a bit through Beijing on one of the many different available bike companies all over the place.

Beijing is the first city that feels to me like an actual biking city. You can go anywhere by bike and the city was nice enough to put as many bike lanes as there are roads available. You heard me right. Beijing is a city that actually thought and invested in their “biking” infrastructure. Yet why is it still so polluted? Well, if they didn’t invest in it, I can only imagine how much worse the traffic would be, as would the pollution be. But I got tired of biking. Simply because regardless of my shape, covering enough distance in one day was not enough for me. I wanted more. Aren’t I an ambitious little man. Wanting to explore the city more… Big dreams here!

So I bought a scooter from my leaving roommate for the huge amount of 500RMB. She’s a girl. Why do I mention this? Simply because she was the one to put on all those stickers including a “No fat chicks” sticker…

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Therefore, I’m clearing my name from any potential sexist accusations. Don’t worry, I’ll take it off eventually. When I think about it… But here’s the thing. Most people here just don’t know what it means… And THAT makes the sticker funny. Because here, no one will ever read it, understand it and do something about it. My friend sent me a picture of a girl (kid) with a t-shirt saying something along the lines of “You Fuck’n Asswhole” in huge letters. HUGE! Don’t believe me? Pictures don’t lie.

Moving on from the “lost in translation” funny jokes. I now scoot around (is scooting a verb? It is?! But it doesn’t mean what I thought it did…I’ll use it anyway. You get it.). And while I scoot around, I also get to experience the life of drivers… Oh God… Whenever I get on my scooter, I feel like a daredevil. Risking my life and doing all kinds of tricks to avoid cyclists, other scooters, cars, buses, trucks that basically all drive in their own little world. Chinese people are excellent drivers because they drive slowly. 20170725_185014My motorcycle classes back in Canada have never been so useful. Hard breaking and avoiding surprise obstacles are a common thing here. You don’t need a license for an electric scooter here. They can still go up to 60km/h. It’s dangerous, yet exciting. I understood so much about drivers here. Lights are a suggestion. You go when you. If not, you can wait as much as 8 minutes at light. I’ve experienced it. Have you ever seen those documentary about ants where there’s a gazillion in a colony walking over each other? Well, that’s Beijing driving life. I get to cover a lot more distance, visit nice places and sit down in a nice café and work on articles such as this one. But yeah, it comes at a price. (Don’t worry mom, I’m careful! Kisses! What helmet?)

Dragriffin out!

Today’s item on the list:

  • Get a motorcycle and explore with it(I know, it’s a scooter, but close enough)!

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