When it comes to Chinese social media marketing, I’m sure you’ve heard about Wechat, Weibo a thousand times.
But if you’re wondering how social media in China really looks like in 2017, what are the best marketing strategy to success on Chinese social Media? Then this one is for you.
I’ve summarized the major social channels and how brands use the channels to tap into the Chinese market:
The Great Fire Wall banned major US social channels, but it also created an entirely different Eco systems.
Through this post, I will use phrases like ‘Chinese Facebook equivalent, Chinese Instagram equivalent‘, make it easier to grasp.
But, before everything, please know:
Chinese social medias are, different products developed by entirely different company culture and background. If you think Wechat is just a mutant Facebook without the comprehensive date on Business Manager, you are certainly missing the big picture.
Table of content
4. Live Streams
6. T-mall and Taobao Apps
7. DianPing & Qyer
MAU: 900 M (2017)
Wechat is a messenger app with NewsFeed features.
Wechat Official Account (OA) is for marketing, it is the most powerful social media channel when it comes to social commerce. Allow users to complete the entire ‘Purchasing Decision Process’ without leaving the APP. Check Wechat Terminology to learn more about Wechat Official Account.
In April 2017, Apple disabled Wechat donation function, due to it’s violation of Apple’s In-App Purchase regulations¹. Accordingly, IAP through App Store, is required to distributed 30% of the amount to AppStore, via Apple Pay.
Apple argued that, Wechat’s Donation redirect users to Wechat Pay, which is against it’s policy. On the other hand, Tencent claims that Donation is not a purchasing act, thus not violate AppStore’s regulation.
QDaily² compared the news to what happened with Microsoft Window 20 years ago. Operation systems was the key to personal computer, but soon after the popularity of personal computer, it is what websites you visit that matters, and Windows’ IE couldn’t left the weight.
Now, IOs and Android are prominent pilar for smart phones. However, multi functional Apps like Wechat, are the players that fulfills user demands.
The question is: Will this be the new era of internet?
Wechat is not only a social media channel, and you need to master it for tap into the Chinese market!
With almost 600 million Official Accounts, Tencent provides the market, almost limitless influencer supply. There are several third party influencer platforms, make it easier for brands to find the right influencers.
Wechat also provides Paid Advertising, the conversion cost per follower is around 5-6 euro.
Wechat E-commerce/ Social commerce:
Wechat allows companies to integrate it’s official website into OA accounts, so customers will be re/direct to the site while using Wechat browser.
There are also third party and Wechat store to suit for different company’s set up.
The revolutionary Wechat Pay fixed the payment issue, made it much easier for both the brand and the customers.
Wechat bot and customer support
Wechat provides similar functions as Zendesk, allows multiple service agents to connect to the OA at the same time to provide chat service.
OA can also create Membership program and coupons for it’s followers, the coupon functions are highly effective to increase conversion.
As a matter of fact, Wechat is the most efficient social media up to date, when it comes to drive traffic from online to offline stores! Many of Wechat’s functions centered around transfer online followers to actual stores. Read more about the functions here.
Wechat Mini Program
Since January 2017, Wechat launched Mini Program, an open-source platform for simple bots. The idea is revolutionary, leverage Wechat to the same play-field as AppStore.
MAU: 900 M (2017)
The Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
Available in English and affordable Paid ads (Fensi Tong has an average CPM = 15RMB) make Weibo the most obvious choice for social marketing.
In 2017, Weibo added new features like Story, the Instagram Story equivalent, which is exactly like Instagram and Facebook, whom copied from Snapchat.
And Question, where users can pay to ask a question to other user, it is Weibo’s solution to generating profit for it’s content creators.
Personally, I really enjoy these new features, it shows SINA are more clear on the role Weibo plays in 2017.
Weibo is mandatory for brands. Unlike the rest of the world, brand’s official Weibo in China are much more entertaining.
You might never guess, some of the most influential weibo accounts are brands’:
Durex³ is most praised by it’s fast reaction posts about breaking news.
Forbidden City is one hilarious account.
and local white electronics brand Haier leads the entire brand official community.
Influencer marketing has always been Weibo’s advantage. Especially after Live Stream hype went through the roof in 2016, massive micro influencers starting to pop up.
On the other hand, Weibo’s Fensi Tong still remain the most developed Paid Social Advertising system in China. SINA has been investing heavily to strengthen the business part, including arrange influencer events to Paid Social trainings.
Last years, Weibo was competing with Wechat in the social commerce section. Now the collaborate with Alibaba Group made it possible, for Weibo to be the pure social media channel to promote and engage with audience, and leave the rest to Alibaba.
MAU: 80M (2015)
If you Google Chinese equivalence of Youtube, you will probably get answers like Youku, Tudou and QQ Video.
But, local brands are SLAYING on other video focused channels, which are considered ‘COOL’ among the younger generations. like Bilibili.com
Started as a community for comic lovers, the site rooted strongly in the young generation, where engagement is high and content are unique and original. Some of the most original and creative video content creators in China are active on Bilibili, making it a gold mind for brands that want to get in contact with younger audience.
For instance, Xiaomi is using Bilibili as it’s top social media channels, with over 300k followers engage with the brand.
Similar sites including AcFun.
4. LIVE STREAMS
MAU: 85M (2017)
After 2016, it is impossible to not mention Live Stream, when talking about Chinese social media.
The hype of Live stream was the number 1 internet phenomenon in China. All in a sudden, everyone is streaming about everything, from making breakfast to fancy fashion shows.
Personally, my major issue with streaming is the competitive market, which makes it hard to choose one platform and stick with it: Inke, YY, Douyu, Huya, Pnada, Huajiao, Yizhibo, just to name a few. The good thing is, most major channels like Weibo and Youku have their own streaming function.
Live stream marketing
Most brands using live streaming are fashion and beauty, it is hard to evaluate ROI from live streaming alone.
However, both TMALL and Taobao incorporated Live into their APPs, allow users to watch fashion show and events live, while place order on spot4.
MAU: 7.5M (2016)
Many of the new social media channels in China are centered around generating profit for content creators.
It is easy math, users are attracted by quality content and influencer present, there’s no better ways to have quality UGC, than help content creators to generate profit from it.
Wechat OA is the first channel that made paid content an official feature, which in turn helped to increase OA account to the incredible 600 million.
If you want to understand how Fenda works, check out this app called Whale, the Silicon Valley’s equivalence of FenDa, where users can pay to ask influencers a question, others can also pay 10% to listen to the answer.
Zhihu, Weibo and many others are doing the same thing.
As a knowledge focused community, FenDa is the new Quora. It is a perfect channel for B2B business, like consulting and agencies to conduct social media marketing.
MAU: 50M & 386M (2016)
T-MALL and TAOBAO APPs are killing it on Social media features, including:
- Live Stream
- Review community
- Influencer endorsement
- Pokemon Go equivalence games for shopping offline stor
- And much more
The best part:
All these features are carefully designed to increase conversion. Thus, if sales is your mean goal, it makes sense to devote major social media resources on Tmall apps only.
2016 Singel’s Day, Tmall pull up the best social media marketing strategy for it’s brands, you can learn more about it here.
MAU: 150M & N/A (2016)
For travel and service industry, the focus of social media channels are quite the different.
You can still see Weibo travel bloggers’ affiliate posts about hotels and restaurant. But where do customers in the end of decision making journey go for recommendations?
If you are a restaurant, a hotel, or anyone whom wants to tap into the outbound Chinese tourists market.
Make sure to take care of your DianPing reviews, it is as important as TripAdvisor. Qyer is the Chinese equivalence of Lonely Planet, a gold mine for highly converted customers and influencers.
I hope you can see the potential of Chinese social media marketing for your products, brand and business.
It is a gigantic market with many possibilities.
The channels in this posts are major established ones, with track record of bring brands lucrative ROIs, but there are so many niche social media channels that I did not include, which might be just the best for your business.
Wonder which channels are most suitable for you?