Fan Xubing, Chinese social media guru, moves into e-commerce
Seafood marketing guru Fan Xubing sees a bright future seafood imports into China, and is pursuing multiple avenues of arriving at that future as soon as possible.
Fan is the founder and president of Sea Bridge Marketing, which promotes imported seafood in China for an A-list of clients that includes the Norwegian Seafood Council and the Canadian Association of Prawn Producers.
Other clients include Atlantic Canada Lobster, the Lobster Council of Canada and the Canadian Sablefish Association, the Fisheries Council of Canada, Salmon Chile, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, the Louisiana Seafood Marketing and Promotion Board, the Hokkaido Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, and Moana Seafood New Zealand.
Fan’s firm is popular for many reasons, but it’s his range of its social media reach that is the primary factor pulling clients in. Fan has spent a decade building a massive presence on Chinese social media and claims more than a million daily readers. His Global Seafood e-magazine, which claims 127,600 subscribers, publishes well-produced advertorials and reportage on imported seafood, as well as lots of recipes and how-to guides teaching Chinese how to consume imported species. Fan claims the Global Seafood channel is the number-one seafood channel on WeChat, the Twitter-style microblog which Chinese netizens increasingly use for shopping as well as posting and sharing news.
Fan initiated his successful foray into social media back in 2006, when he started a channel on the Youku video sharing site that Fan claims ranks among the top 50 food channels on Youku. In 2009, Fan launched a microblogging media campaign with a Weibo blog set-up that has also grown wildly popular. Seabridge grew its presence on the QQ instant messaging system, and has shifted with the times over to WeChat as users move from PCs to mobiles. In addition, Fan posts frequent videos of seafood preparation on the Toutiao video blog.
The breadth and depth of Sea Bridge’s social media presence reveals the diversity of China’s social media scene and its power as a marketing tool for seafood, according to Fan. He said his wide reach across online audiences in China helps his clients to carry out consumer education.
Building off his success, Fan recently announced his plan to set up an e-commerce platform, certain he can be successful despite the crowded e-commerce scene in China.
“We will become a seafood lifestyle company and a very strong seafood brand in China within one to two years,” he said.
Fan has also taken on a new role as a promoter of sustainability in the seafood industry in China. While Seabridge has made its money representing fisheries companies and producer groups, it has also been hired by the Marine Stewardship Council and Global Aquaculture Alliance to maintain social media accounts on WeChat and other Chinese social media platforms. Sea Bridge has likewise recently started to work for Greenpeace to highlight responsible consumption.
The role will challenge Fan and Sea Bridge, which has traditionally worked to promote of Chinese seafood consumption without much concern for sustainability. However, Fan said the seafood industry and seafood culture are changing rapidly in China, and that sustainability can and must become a bigger part of the conversation around seafood in the world’s top seafood-consuming country. Fan sees his firm as driving those changes and that conversation.
“The seafood industry has been experiencing very dramatic changes during last three to four years,” he said. “Many of the changes are because of our contribution.”