The Ask

At the request of Bill Gates’ personal office, BRIDGE supported the launch of his personal Weibo and WeChat accounts. Our client hoped to reach the broader Chinese audience through social media engagement, and promote awareness of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and its projects.

The Strategy

We downloaded all posts with mentions of Bill Gates from three major social media platforms in China: Weibo, WeChat, and Zhihu. By closely cataloguing the 64,000 posts, we found a gap between the online Chinese community’s interest (his personal wealth and business success), and our communications objective (awareness of his contribution to global development and philanthropy). To address this challenge, we created links between Bill Gates’ personal brand and the work of the Gates Foundation, including leveraging their annual letter.

Bill and Melinda Gates would release an annual letter to review achievements of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and share their thoughts on the future of global development. In February 2017, BRIDGE orchestrated a marketing event in support of the launch of Bill Gates’ WeChat account. BRIDGE capitalized on the momentum it had created with the event to further promote Bill and Melinda’s upcoming annual letter. In leveraging public interest in Bill Gates’ personal brand, BRIDGE was able to close the gap we had previously identified. The highlight of this campaign was Bill Gates greeted and welcomed his followers in Chinese in a video then shared on his new official WeChat account.

A month later, seeing an opportunity in Bill Gates’ visit to China, we worked closely with his personal office and the Gates Foundation to promote his social media presence in China, which included organizing a live stream event of his speech at Peking University. With the support of Weibo, we created and promoted the hashtag campaign #GatesPKUSpeech, and shaped the online discussion with influencer engagement. During the interview with Tencent, Bill Gates held a cardboard sign to show the QR codes of his personal official WeChat account and the Gates Foundations’, welcoming people to also follow his engagement in global health and development, and join the conversations BRIDGE helped create.

The Impact

On WeChat, Bill Gates’ personal official account successfully attracted 300,000 followers in 3 days, and his first post on his annual 2017 letter was read more than 100,000 times. On Weibo, the campaign hashtag generated 44 million views and 5,000 comments, with 650,000 people watched the speech live stream. His single day follower increase reached 17,000. Based on the volume of people’s retweets and comments, Bill Gates’ engagement in global development was well-received by the Chinese audience.