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Keeping in touch with China Market during Covid-19

It has never been more important for destinations and businesses to keep inspiring and to engage with followers through social media platforms during the current Covid-19 crisis. When many visitors have had to cancel their trips to Edinburgh in 2020, and the international tourism market is yet to recover due to travel restrictions, safety concerns and more, it is essential to maintain relationships with followers by sending the right messages to the right markets at the right time.

In the case of the China market, ever since the UK outbreak started we have been monitoring the situation and adapting the content strategy on Edinburgh’s official Weibo and WeChat social media accounts. We’ve put together virtual resources, films, artworks, music and literature, as well as recipes for our followers to see, to listen, to read and to taste Edinburgh at home. Instead of spreading fear and insecure feelings about the pandemic, we’ve shared a series of lovely stories showing the kindness of people in Edinburgh to highlight the solidarity and community spirit we have in this city.

Most importantly, we’ve kept showing followers the beauty of Edinburgh by updating high quality images and videos throughout the lockdown, in a way we wanted to remind our audience that, when everything is changing rapidly at the moment, the cherry blossoms at the Meadows and the views on top of Calton Hill & Arthur’s Seat remain the same, still the most romantic scenes in the world. The image of the beautiful tranquil city itself is more powerful than any statements. As a result, Edinburgh’s Weibo & WeChat have continued to be amongst the highest rated on the world’s DMO rankings since the lockdown.

Social media is also the best tool to monitor visitors’ sentiments. Because of the right content strategy, our posts have triggered nostalgic feelings from lots of followers who have visited or lived in Edinburgh before who have engaged with us saying how much they miss the city. Using this user generated content, we put together over 40 nostalgic sentiments from followers in a WeChat post on the 20th May – the Chinese “I Love You Day”, which became our best-performed WeChat article so far in 2020 and put Edinburgh’s WeChat DMO ranking at No 1 in the world for that week. This is our way of saying “we know you miss Edinburgh, we hear you, Edinburgh misses you too!”

As for those who have not yet visited Edinburgh, they become even more eager to visit after seeing those posts and sentiments, although it is still not convenient for long-haul travel at the moment, they’d dream to come to Scotland once they can. When the travel restrictions are eased and the flights between China and the UK resume, it’s time for us to use our social media platforms to deliver the message that “we are open, ready and welcoming” as well as keep updating travellers about latest opening hours, safety measures, events, offers etc. across the city.

Seeing the recovery of the domestic tourism market in China in the last few months has brought us confidence and useful insights towards our own recovery, and we are confident that our use of social media to maintain the “long distance relationship” with Chinese visitors will ensure that once it is possible, we will see this market quickly return to the city.

Guest blog by Alice He, Edinburgh China Social Media Manager. For more information on how you can get involved with the China Social Media project contact: alice.he@etag.org.uk