China social media strategy pays dividends for Alaskan seafood

A recent social media campaign by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) yielded an impressive 55 million impressions on the leading Chinese social media platform Weibo.

The campaign was part of a social media promotion this winter by ASMI, where 50 Weibo influencers posted about Alaska seafood and fans of the posts were entered to a lucky draw for Alaskan seafood prizes.

ASMI’s long-time marketing contractor in Shanghai, SMH International, manages Alaska seafood WeChat and Weibo accounts, while also selecting social media influencers, also known as key opinion leaders (KOLs). Influencers for social media promotions are selected from different spheres of influence including health, food, and fitness, “to reach a wide audience with information about Alaska seafood’s nutrition and sustainability, ideas for recipes, and details about ongoing sales promotions,” ASMI Marketing Officer Alice Ottoson-McKeen told SeafoodSource.

Alaskan king crab has become synonymous with status in the brand-conscious Chinese market. Recent promoters of Alaskan seafood on Weibo include a live broadcast cooking show by a culinary influencer called “Woody Cheng Wei” showing his one million followers how to cook Alaskan seafood products. In another video, a Shenzhen travel agent and Weibo blogger focused on the Maldives – a favorite destination of Chinese honeymooners – promotes meals on the beach in the featuring Alaskan king crab and “red dragon fish” flown in to the Indian Ocean destination, which itself has an artisanal fishing population.

The use of internet celebrities appears to have been used to similar effect recently when ASMI China garnered 120 million views (and 106,000 comments) for the launch of an Alaska seafood mini app for another microblogging platform, WeChat. The app will inform Chinese consumers, trade, and media about ASMI events as well as Alaska seafood species and recipes.

Earlier this year, ASMI’s China office produced a short video that highlighted a variety of Alaska seafood products in the lives of people from different backgrounds and regions, which will be shared by four influencers on Weibo and one on TikTok this month.

Both social media and in-store as well as ecommerce promotions are all important parts of ASMI’s marketing strategy in China, according to Ottoson-McKeen.

“The two often go hand in hand, with influencers on social media being employed to raise awareness about ongoing retail or ecommerce promotions as well as the benefits and attributes of Alaska seafood in general,” she said.

To raise awareness of new products or species, ASMI China will often pair these items with more well-known and highly regarded Alaska species, such as king crab.

“The idea of this strategy is that a product like Alaska king crab will lend its prestige to the quality and value of the Alaska brand overall, thereby raising the perception and understanding of new to market species through association,” Ottoson-McKeen said. “For example, the short video produced for social media highlights a variety of products, including wild Alaska pollock and pollock roe, Pacific cod, snow crab, sea cucumber, rockfish, king crab, sablefish, salmon, and yellowfin sole.”


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