Creating a Winning Chinese Social Media Strategy – All you need to know
The undisputed world champion of social media is China, despite being absent from the largest social media websites in the West. By sheer size of the user base, with over 91% of China’s population connected to a social media platform, and by the overall level of activity, Chinese social media is prevalent in a big way, when you compare them to their counterparts.
For the most part, many online companies don’t even bother to tap into this potential goldmine of new customers, either due to ignorance or being intimidated by the language and cultural barriers. What must be remembered, though, is that consumer behavior doesn’t change all that drastically once you cross those imaginary borders and over international waters.
Establishing your Brand in China
In the U.S. you have to have your company accessible on at least 3 to 4 social media platforms to reach the minimum level of social activity; some combination of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and/or Instagram, typically. In China, that rule still applies, as it is even more common for users to be active on most of the big social media platforms at the same time.
What makes things even more enticing for a business that is exploring the idea of establishing their brand on Chinese social media, is that the Chinese are much more inclined to openly discuss their favorite brands online or interact with brands, directly.
The Social Networks that Dominate
We are going to start off with the top social networks that grab the biggest market share, but that doesn’t mean you should forgo adding more to your list of accounts. Remember, since so many Chinese are connected online, and use multiple social accounts, a “small” platform could be home to tens of millions of users that you could be missing out on. Let’s look at the biggest players out there that you can’t afford to miss.
Also known as Weixin in Chinese, this powerful mobile platform is one of the most versatile messaging apps on the market. This app is even gaining popularity in the States. As an online business, you can use WeChat to connect with potential business partners in China, not just customers. Its user-friendly interface makes it easy to handle e-commerce transactions and accept direct payments.
There is also advertising space available, which works similar to Facebook, in that you can target specific demographics and create ads that are custom tailored for what the user is searching for.
People refer to Sina Weibo as the Chinese version of Twitter, which becomes obvious after first glance. Same character limit, same seamless integration of multimedia content, and the same excellent opportunities to quickly reach out to potential customers, while staying engaged with past customers to strengthen your brand’s image. It is important to utilize Sina Weibo as a foreign brand, you need to establish your voice as an authority that can be trusted and one that is “cool” or likeable, as well. A good example of foreign success is how Durex brand condoms sent a timely “tweet” out on the platform when Beijing residents were experiencing a long stretch of rainy weather. They suggested using their condoms to stretch over their shoes in order to keep them dry if they must venture outside. Needless to say this caused a huge buzz and the Durex name went viral.
With over 600 million Chinese on QZone, you really can’t afford to not incorporate this multi-functional blogging platform. This will essentially be your second home in China because of its very friendly interface that allows for a great amount of customization right out of the gate. This allows you to create quick and unique microsites for any occasion, whether that is for the release of a new product or to promote events, deals, coupons, whatever you would normally post on a central website hub.
When planning your Chinese social media strategy, you must keep in mind of just how hyper-connected the lifestyle has become, even more so than the United States. These standardized social media platforms allow for all walks of life to be connected, regardless of the model of phone. This helps businesses immensely, they don’t need an expensive social media campaign or a fancy custom website to compete. What really sets successful brands apart from the rest of the competition is how smart and how dedicated their social media approach is to these platforms.
Be aggressive with how established you are on Chinese social media platforms, but don’t commit one of the biggest blunders for all social media strategies by replying to every single comment and every single share with what amounts to “spamming” and, ultimately, desperation. It doesn’t matter what country you operate in, everyone loves the funny, approachable and tenacious accounts on social media.
For more useful tips on digital marketing strategy in China, check out this article about 10 Digital trends there.
Article by Amber Coyler