Techy, social media-aware, and 1.4 billion strong as of 2020, Chinese consumers are on their phones for much of the day. Nearly all are active on a Chinese social media platform of some kind. Market your business in some of these, and you’ll be getting more eyes on your business. Before we talk about the best Chinese social media apps for promoting your brand, let’s take a look at how crucial social media is to the life of the average Chinese consumer.
In this post we will be looking at the following Chinese Social Media Apps:
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The Landscape of Chinese Social Media
There’s no denying the power social media has in creating brand awareness. Wherever you choose to set up shop, you need to leverage the reach of social media. In no other part of the world is this apparent than in China.
China is home to more than 1.4 billion consumers. More than 70% of these consumers are on social media as of 2021. Based on existing projections, the number of social media users in China is expected to reach an adoption rate of at least 91% by 2026. This means that nearly all consumers will be using social media by 2026.
Chinese social media apps have more diverse roles relative to their Western counterparts. Chinese social media apps have functionalities for e-commerce and online monetary transactions. Chinese social media apps also have gaming and entertainment functions, similar to some apps in the West. In other words, social media apps in China have something to offer every consumer.
Indeed, e-commerce functions aren’t exclusive to online marketplaces in China, social media are in the game too. This functionality is beefed up in the country to the point where each app has a place in a commercial ecosystem unseen in many countries. This has led to the popularization of social eCommerce in the country.
In short, Chinese social media does more than enable users to post status updates and reactions. It enables businesses of virtually any scale to promote and sell products in ways that are pervasive to the everyday lives of consumers.
In China, there are many social media apps. For your convenience (and success in the country), we’ve narrowed your choices down to these top six.
We’ll begin with a social media app that has the largest market dominance with more than a billion users as of 2020.
To get an idea of what Weibo is, all you need to do is imagine a combination of Twitter and Facebook (or Instagram, whichever you use more for marketing). In a way, Sina Weibo is China’s answer to Twitter in the sense that the platform’s users can post under hashtags.
Two things make Weibo an excellent app for social media in China and brand promotion. First, as of 2020, Weibo has at least 520 million active users. Equally impressive is the app’s mobile penetration, with 91% of the users being mobile users. This is a statistic worth paying attention to especially if you’re targeting mobile users in China (and you should).
The other attractive quality of Weibo for investors is how engagement is easy on the app. Engaging with consumers is possible and easy because brands can create official verified accounts. Hence, if you sign up for a Weibo business account, you’ll be able to create a page for brand awareness and customer engagement.
A market penetration rate of at least 70% is a feat for any brand or application. However, when the consumer market consists of nearly every age group in the country, such an app becomes a marketer’s dream. WeChat is indeed this marvel of a social media app.
WeChat has gone a long way from how it was during its inception. When it broke into the online space in 2011, it began as a messaging app with a photo-sharing use case. Now, it has grown into a multi-function app capable of doing everything from booking appointments to making online payments. For its ever-expanding list of functions, it continues to be what many deem to be China’s most important app.
Marketers can advertise on WeChat and draw the attention of the platform’s 1.2 billion users. Marketers can create WeChat accounts to advertise via the platform’s Moments, Banner Ad, and Mini-program ad options.
Xiaohongshu is a social media platform but with a twist — an added eCommerce twist, that is. Xiaohongshu allows marketers to list products for sale under user accounts. Companies can sign up for e-commerce accounts with the platform.
What Xiaohongshu has over most e-commerce platforms is its engagement functions. Consumers can interact with companies directly using the platform’s messaging functions. On top of that, users of the app can post customer reviews of products they have purchased. KOLs (key opinion leaders) and KOCs (key opinion consumers) make full use of this function, so consider this when you’re about to promote your brand on the app.
The reviews can also include media showing their use and experience with the product. This enables potential buyers of a product to make purchasing decisions accordingly.
As of 2020, approximately 250 million white-collar urban users make up the platform’s user demographic.
Douyin has exploded into one of the most popular video apps and platforms today. If you’re not familiar with this Chinese social media app, you’ll know it by a different name — TikTok. DouYin/TikTok together have cumulated more than 800 million users worldwide. In China, the app count 608 million users as of 2021
Douyin gives users the power to create video content. What does this mean for you? It means that you can promote your brand through videos on this platform. Even better, signing up for an account is quite straightforward, given how many consumers have personal accounts on the platform.
For the visibility your products can gain from videos on the platform, here’s one thing to think about. In 2019, DouYin amended the ideal length of videos. Seeing that the average user spent no more than 50 minutes on the app, DouYin encouraged the creation of shorter videos. How short? The encouraged length is anywhere from five seconds to a minute.
Your video won’t be cut being a few seconds longer, but you’ll be better off condensing your content to under a minute.
Are you looking for a way to direct some organic traffic to your company site in China? If you are, then you may want to consider brand promotion in forums. In the West, brands have done this on platforms like Quora and Reddit. In China, the equivalent is none other than Zhihu.
Zhihu works a lot like Reddit and Quora. In other words, it’s a Q&A platform that allows users with verified accounts to ask and answer questions.
Being an active Zhihu participant can work wonders for your social media campaign in China. The ability to answer questions immediately positions you as an industry authority and a brand that engages with people — things you want to be known for in China.
To date, Zhihu has at least 160 million active users, with more than seven million online daily.
6. Youku Tudou
There’s no denying the importance of video in any marketing strategy that involves social media in China. If video marketing comprises the bulk of your market strategy, then look no further than Youku Tudou. Youku Tudou is China’s answer to Youtube. With a user base totaling 580 million, this is one video-sharing app you’ll need to leverage for maximum brand awareness.
Youku Tudou offers marketers and channel owners access to analytics. Using data generated by the analytics function, marketeers using the platform for video marketing can track the performance of their content. The analytics function helps you get a better idea of who your audience is and what content will generate the most engagement and appeal.
Marketing on Chinese Social Media Apps
All Chinese Social Media apps offer compelling tools to brands that become available once you registered for a business account. Each app has its own set of requirements and we strongly suggest you collaborate with a local partner to simplify and accelerate the process. This should be the first step you take when looking at promoting your company on Chinese social media.
All of the Chinese social media apps mentioned require no more than you sign up for a business account to start using their paid advertising tools. The only exception is WeChat where you also need to commit a minimum investment for advertising on the platform. The minimum will depend on the ad option you want. The Moments adoption is the most expensive one but guarantees high visibility for your brand.
One other area that needs a mention is the kind of content and products you can advertise. The Chinese government allows foreign brands to advertise in the country. However, there are many products that when advertised or mentioned on social media can lead to heavy penalties and censors.
Here are some of the products and keywords you should not include in your social media content in China:
- Medical products
- Formula milk for babies
- Anything involving Tibet or Xinjiang
- Tobacco products
- Alcoholic beverages
- Investments of any sort like real estate
- Educational services
There are many more regulated pieces of content as per China’s advertising laws. It’s hard to learn all of them overnight. This is what makes working with a China-based marketing agency all the more important.
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