Read our second post in this series, Digital Marketing in China Part 2: The 10 Social Media Platforms You Need to Know.
China has a huge and dynamic digital market that has many distinctive features setting it apart from Western social media. One of the biggest challenges for international businesses is that the familiar platforms used elsewhere are not part of the social media landscape in China. Marketers must adapt to the Chinese platforms, which can be more changeable than the big social networks that dominate the market elsewhere.
In Part 1, we discussed some of the unique features of digital marketing in China. In Part 2 we will expand on this by revealing the 10 social platforms that businesses should be using to reach Chinese consumers.
There are challenges if you don’t read Mandarin as these sites are in Chinese at present. Most have apps which are accessed via a QR code. QR codes are frequently used in China and companies set up their own codes for these Chinese social media sites. I’ve also written about China’s Biggest Social Media Networks and The Online Shopping Sites that are Bigger than Amazon which are all based in China.
The 10 Social Media Platforms in China
WeChat is the biggest social media platform in China and it combines many of the features that marketers will be familiar with in Western platforms into one network. It provides everything from games and messaging to financial services. Business users can make use of online shopping services, offer subscription only accounts, or use WeChat to provide services or offer discount coupons. The Customer Relationship Management tools can also be very valuable for businesses.
Some users have recently been concerned about privacy on the site, but WeChat remains the most popular and frequently used social network in China. It will continue to form a key part of any digital marketing campaign.
Qzone is another giant of Chinese social media, so it is essential for businesses to maintain a presence on the site. The site focuses on blogging, but it is associated with Tencent, so there are many ways to interact with users.
Tencent is largely an instant messaging service, but there are many additional features including gaming, streaming and the increasingly popular video service. Despite being one of the older platforms, Tencent is particularly popular with the under 20s, which shows how unpredictable the digital market in China can be. Businesses can open their own accounts or use the paid marketing services.
Microblogging is very big in China and Sina Weibo, or Weibo as it’s usually called, is the most popular platform for it. Marketers who want to understand the Chinese market should by paying close attention to this site to learn what people are talking about. Brands can monitor their own reviews on Sina Weibo or use it as part of marketing campaigns using influencers or celebrity accounts. It is also possible to engage effectively with users who are sharing their own content and opinions.
Douyin – TikTok
Douyin, better known as TikTok, is the ideal site for video marketing in China. The site is becoming more popular with celebrities, which will enable marketers to identify their target audiences more easily. Some of the most popular accounts are now using the short-video format to tell longer, episodic stories, which offers some exciting new possibilities for digital marketing.
Meitu is known as a photo editing app, but it is expanding on its social features in ways that will make it easier for brands to connect with users. Having a presence on Meitu is essential for brands in the beauty, fashion or lifestyle sectors.
Xiaohonghu is targeted towards women aged 18-35 so it is a key platform for brands targeting this group. Translated as ‘little red book’, the site has some features that make it particularly effective for digital marketing as it focuses on sharing photos and product reviews.
Zhihu is a question and answer site that presents brands with an opportunity to build up their reputation as experts in a particular field. Meaning ‘what do you know?’ its users often post very high quality content and they tend to be better educated, wealthier and more likely to live in large cities. Brands targeting these demographics can benefit from the advertising services offered on Zhihu.
Although it has been around since 2011, Kuaishou has recently gained a lot of popularity as a video sharing platform. Video is becoming more important across many of the Chinese social media platforms, but Kuaishou is focused on this format. Many of the users live outside the major cities, so this platform enables brands to reach consumers that they can’t connect with elsewhere.
The aim of Douban has always been to connect people with similar interests, which means that marketers can use the site to reach specific markets. Douban allows direct marketing to its users, so it is possible to reach out to these users. The rating and recommendation system encompasses all kinds of media and can be hugely influential so brands operating in these areas must manage their reputations on the site.
While these are the social networks that you need to focus on in 2019, it is important to be aware that digital media in China is particularly dynamic. Social networks come and go more often than in the West, with users being readier to switch to new platforms. The platforms can also be more specialised or may add new features that are unique to the Chinese market. Marketers must be aware of all the latest trends in social media in order to run an effective campaign.