Sign In


[Startup Shanghai]: Say Ni Hao to KAWO: The Startup Reshaping Chinese Social Media

SmSh dives into the world of startups, featuring marketing tech startup: KAWO who is reshaping Chinese social media management.
2023-07-12 12:00:00


“Startup Shanghai” traces and tracks the entrepreneurial scene in Shanghai, highlighting the unique and interesting ways our city’s business community is rethinking their respective industries, contributing to the culture, and shaping our collective futures. Check back for editorial cover on all varieties of locally grown talent in Shanghai.

Imagine trying to navigate a maze with your eyes closed. That's what diving into Chinese social media was like for foreign brands, until KAWO came along in 2017. KAWO's mission is straightforward: making sense of China's opaque social media online world for the world's brands. Many of you might recognize KAWO from The Ultimate Guide to China Social Media Marketing, roundly passed around the industry and recognized as the BIBLE on Chinese social media management. It's an impressive and daunting thing, which you can get right here (but come right back!)

As Kelly Xu, the dynamo leading KAWO's growth puts it, "We're here to create a seamless bond between East and West. We help brands cut through the labyrinth of Chinese social media and make genuine connections with Chinese consumers."

The Nuts and Bolts

Here is one of KAWO's dashboards. A bird's eye view across your social media in an English interface.

What is KAWO? In essence, it's a portal for brands to manage their Chinese social media across the myriad of unique and idiosyncratic social media platforms out there today: WeChat, Weibo, Douyin, Kuaishou, and Bilibili, among others. Probably the biggest selling point for SmSh readers is that KAWO's platform is both bilingual and offers real-time translation. Now, your Western team can create and manage content without the time and error added by a language barrier.

A look at KAWO's content planning dashboard. Here you can schedule posts, edit posts, and create calendar campaigns.

In addition to that, KAWO operates like a centralized control room where you can: monitor your social media presence; collaborate with colleagues or clients to craft content, track engagement; manage your social media assets (including images); and receive analytics of performance; among other things.

On top of that, KAWO also produces a steady stream of super useful reports and resources to help marketers learn new strategies and perspectives in China. Check out the 2023 Chinese Social Media Cheatsheet download. You can get it free here.

The Who's Who

KAWO is helping over 500 brands publish to over 300 million Chinese netizens each month, from giant corporations to educational bodies and sports celebrities.

We asked Kelly Xu to tell us a bit about KAWO's clients.

"Companies and organizations that work with KAWO, tend to be those that are early adopters of new technology and are intentionally wanting to be ahead of others when it comes to innovation and digital transformation." - Kelly Xu

A few of KAWO's forward thinking clients includes Harrow International School of Shanghai, Western International School of Shanghai (WISS), The North Face, luxury brand Chaumet, The Peninsual Beijing, NielsenIQ, The Houston Rockets, chocolate makers Loacker, global chemicals company Evonik, and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). This eclectic mix of clientele is a testament to KAWO's chameleon-like ability to cater to different needs and sectors.

Who's This For

Established brands looking to break into China, startups, and marketing agencies in the trenches, as well as brands already in China. If you are a brand wanting to take your social media performance past what your competitors are doing, especially with data driven insights, KAWO could be your new best friend. It's your bridge over the challenging linguistic and cultural waters of Chinese social media. KAWO could be the key that unlocks the puzzle.

A Quick Chat with Kelly Xu at KAWO

Kelly Xu is KAWO's VP of Growth. She is running a bi-weekly 45-minute webinar that introduces the social media landscape in China and discusses how marketers can leverage the power of China social media to achieve business results. One of the topics she'll be getting into is reinterpreting metrics and applying correct analysis to murky figures and inflated traffic stats to get the real picture of content reach.

Kelly Xu: Many marketers these days are discovering that success in social media means needing to move past "vanity metrics" like views on a WeChat post for example, because those can be faked.

Similar to when Justin Bieber lost 3.5 million Instagram followers, social platforms in China have also taken steps to stop accounts from faking data, so it is increasingly becoming a dangerous thing to do.

It's often some teams or people, under pressure to hit KPIs, who resort to buying fake data, but sometimes it happens when marketers buy sponsored articles on WeChat, and the media company who sold the assets will buy fake views without telling their client.

What decision-makers can do is reduce their focus on simple vanity metrics and look at a wider range of metrics that better measure the quality of their social presence. This will reduce the pressure on teams to hit unrealistic targets, make it much harder to artificially boost results, and can help prevent wasted marketing spending.

This is one area where KAWO has helped businesses, because once your eyes are opened to the world of social media metrics, then it's easier to spot fake views, and easier to understand how to create content plans that can succeed without inflated numbers.

KAWO Has a Free Webinar Series Going On

KAWO is hosting a free bi-weekly webinar series with Kelly presenting on a wide range of topics every other Thursday. You should check it out. We attended the first session, and while it covered basics, there were still things that we learned, and the webinar series scales up to more advanced topics overtime. Their first session had over 250 people join in.

If KAWO sounds like an interesting solution to help with your marketing technology stack, you can add their WeChat to speak to someone in English. Not only are they pretty nice, but they know A LOT. Tell them you saw KAWO on SmartShanghai, and they'll will send you KAWO's China Social Media Marketing Cheatsheet 2023 for free!