28 May 2015 at 9:00 am

Eighteen million views and counting

Influential cartoonist Ding Yichen’s popular Weibo posts are bringing the New Zealand education experience to life.

Two Weibo posts from Yichen about Lincoln University (left) and Otago Girls’ High School (right).

Yichen is a cartoonist with five million followers on Weibo. (Weibo is one of the most popular social media platforms in China. A mix of Twitter and Facebook, it’s used by more than 30% of Chinese internet users.)

Yichen was accompanied by a team from Sina.Com.  A multimedia outlet, Sina.Com owns Sina Weibo (which hosts Yichen’s account). Its education outlet, Sina Education, was the first professional education-focused online media platform in China.  An interactive campaign involving Sina Education; Yichen’s dedicated visit Weibo account and her own personal account, and ENZ’s Weibo account, ensured maximum profiling of this visit on these channels.

The group visited eight institutions in Dunedin, Otago and Queenstown to raise the profile of the South Island as a study destination.

“Yichen’s followed by millions in China for her quirky and positive cartoons and posts about life.  She began sharing her work on Weibo when a student at Tianjin Normal University, and has gone from strength to strength since then.  Her work is clever, creative and innovative – all qualities that speak to the way that we seek to position and profile New Zealand education,” says Regional Director – Greater China Alex Grace.

“What better way to grow awareness and build preference for New Zealand than inviting Ding Yichen and Sina.com here to truly experience studying in the South.”

From the trip, Yichen produced posts illustrating her New Zealand experiences, which have been viewed 18 million times to date, and Sina.com are publishing content about New Zealand on a specific mini site.

Alex says giving the group a taste of New Zealand’s course content by doing – rather than just showing or telling – made all the difference.

Yichen took part in an animation taster class, took a cooking class, delved into winemaking, and drew with our students.”

“I encourage providers hosting international guests to think about how they can make their visits stand out by ‘doing’, as well as telling and showing. Kiwi students learn by doing, and our guests are here to understand us and our education system better. Let’s make it memorable!” says Alex.

The trip was part of Education New Zealand’s visiting media programme, which brings international media to New Zealand from targeted print, online and broadcast organisations.

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