Social media should be a fundamental aspect of any marketing strategy seeking to break into the Chinese market. But the rules and key players are different. Here’s our guide to help you navigate the world of Chinese social media.

Social media is hugely popular in China, which makes it a perfect place for companies to market their products and services. In fact, about 70% of Chinese marketers will spend their advertising resources on social networking and video sites (source: eMarketer). However, the key players and rules of engagement are different than in the West, which can make it hard to know where to begin. That’s why we’ve put together five golden rules for successful Chinese social media marketing.

THE FIVE GOLDEN RULES OF CHINESE SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

1. Keep it mobile

Nearly 100% of 14-47 year olds in China now own a smartphone, and half use their phones to access the internet roughly 25 times a day (source: World Economic Forum). This means you should make your social media content mobile friendly if you want to reach the majority of users.

2. Be personal

Mass marketing won’t cut it in China. Social media users overwhelmingly favor small-scale interactions with individuals. If you want to make an impact, you’ll need to provide tailored, meaningful content for each of your users. Using social media tools may help you start building more personal relationships with consumers.

Let’s take a look at Otte, a New-York-based fashion brand that worked hard on its Chinese social media strategy as a gateway to the Chinese market. Otte’s investment in Chinese social media platforms like Weibo and WeChat has helped it successfully enter the Chinese market where they may even open a brick-and-mortar shop in the near future. The fashion brand made the most of WeChat’s personalization features by building a WeChat store to sell directly to consumers via the app, pushing content specifically around lifestyle and fashion advice. WeChat’s platform also enabled Otte to directly respond to consumer’s private messages, a level of personal service expected by Chinese consumers. With little investment, Otte was able to leverage Chinese social media to build a Chinese consumer base.

clay sculpting in black and white3. Channel your creativity

Chinese users want to be entertained and engaged rather than being sold something. They particularly appreciate interactive content and videos. For the 2016 Chinese New Year, Burberry invited users to virtually unwrap a gift, after which they could send personalized greetings cards, which proved quite popular. Clinique created a 40-chapter-long video series that resulted in 21 million views. The more creative you get, the better your results will be.

4. Prioritize customer service

One of the primary reasons Chinese users shop online is because of the customer service. They don’t want emails and forms; they want instant, direct communication with sellers. WeChat and Alibaba’s Aliwangwang messenger service allow users to chat directly with sellers at any time, building real relationships in the process. Quality customer service will quickly win you fans and increased social media engagement.

5. Champion the right people

Celebrities have millions of followers on Weibo, and a plug from the right person could reap huge rewards. Researching your target demographic’s social media information can help you find the right influencer.

To enhance your social media presence, it’s important to utilize all the different social media platforms available. Each offers something slightly different that sets them apart from the rest. That’s why we’ve put together a who’s-who guide to Chinese social media, laying out what each one can do for you.

A WHO’S-WHO GUIDE TO CHINESE SOCIAL MEDIA

1. WeChat

Known as WeiXin in China, WeChat is the country’s most popular social media website, with 768 million daily active users. Users can run their lives from the app, booking cinema tickets, chatting online and paying bills. There’s a bit of red tape for overseas businesses to get online, but the reward is worth it since it allows you to obtain strategic information about your users, use this to send them tailored content and offer them an all-in-one brand experience. If you choose only one social media platform to work with, choose this one.

2. QZONE

With 640 million active users, QZONE allows users to share blogs they find interesting, which can be a good way of getting your name out there. It is primarily valued by customers as a means of instant, direct communication with companies. Companies can build custom microsites within the platform to really push their brand presence.

red heart lockets in Chinese3. Weibo

Known as the Chinese Twitter, Weibo is a great way to engage with users on relevant topics and to construct your brand identity. It’s also great for online influencers to promote your business, providing access to users you may not otherwise reach. Other advantages include its well-established, paid advertising system and the analytics, index and trend tools it offers for collecting information about competitors and consumers.

4. Youku

The Chinese equivalent of YouTube (which is blocked in China) Youku receives over 800 million daily video views on various devices. It’s a great platform for conducting research on what video advertisements work and for building brand awareness. Since videos are incredibly popular on Chinese social media, it’s advantageous to make use of this Chinese video platform.

5. Ren Ren

Ren Ren has 44 million monthly active users, almost all of whom are college students. So if that’s your target audience, it’s a good place to invest.

6. Little Red Book

There are also various smaller social media tools that cater for eCommerce. Little Red Book allows overseas agents to market luxury fashion and beauty products that are not available in China.

FINAL THOUGHT

Ultimately, remember how you define your brand and consistently focus on value when it comes to your innovations. With a solid brand identity and awareness of the five golden rules, you can leverage Chinese social media platforms to successfully enter and engage with the Chinese market. Tell us your Chinese social media needs, and we’ll help you create a strategy and plan.