Technically speaking, the majority of business deals these days are based on a certain level of trust between those who demand and suppliers. Try to think back, why did you choose that particular vendor for your last online shopping experience? Is it because of factors like product views, suppliers’ reputation, or quality reviews? These factors have successfully built a foundation of trust which gave you enough confidence to place the order online. In fact, the more money you are going to spend on a product, the more assurance you will expect from the supplier.
Why Chinese use social media?
Social media platforms are a powerful way of providing an interactive platform to all business brands for building a good relationship with both their current and potential customers. Although China has different social media from those of many Western countries, the basic rules of digital marketing are still very similar. There are many local businesses and international brands in China that have successfully utilized this concept in their marketing strategies. According to the report from Econsultancy via Entrepreneur, about 71% of businesses plan to invest more money in digital marketing in the future while only 20 % of them want to increase their budget for traditional marketing.
If you want to join the likes of successful brands in China such as Coca-Cola, KFC, Starbucks, and more in digital marketing, please allow me to share some insights about social media in China. Social media in China offers:
Tremendously high user base
To Chinese netizens, social media have become reliable tools for expressing true feelings and opinions, they spend more than 35 % of their time online checking social media. Furthermore, social media users in China are much more active than those in any other country around the world. Many of them have multiple social media accounts where they socialize with people and connect with updated personal information from all over the world.
According to a study from Statista, China currently has nearly 515 million social network users. Isn’t that amazing? With Chinese social media platforms, your brands are able to connect with a user base equal to the combined populations of the USA, Japan, and South Korea.
Promote Brand’s profile
Before Chinese consumers trust your brand, they need to know who you are and what you do. Social media is a free but efficient platform to introduce your brands’ bio, profile and your company culture to people throughout China.
Story approach (Credibility): The best way to start introducing your brand’s profile is through telling stories related to your brands. Real stories are very attractive since they help readers to get to know the real brand behind your different marketing strategies. Stories from founders tell people the real intent and mission of your company, stories from employees tell people how your brand treats others, and stories from your current customers tell people if you are serious about your service quality. The ‘Story approach’ will bring people closer to your brand and build up brand loyalty.
Resume approach (Authority): Your brand may also try the ‘resume approach’ by listing important dates/events/achievements such as the date when the company was first established, the first reward your brand received, the new brand your company launched, and many more. This approach brings authority to your company/brands which can be very useful to earn trust quickly from internet users.
Test and Learn experiment
Social Media can offer you a platform for marketing experiment to test and learn from the Chinese market. Through this testing and learning experience, you gain deeper insights into the taste, interests, and preferences of the Chinese consumer which in turn allows you to adapt and become more flexible.
‘Dove China’ had to learn from its mistakes after it first launched its social media campaign “Real Beauty” to promote the idea that beauty includes women of all looks and various body shapes, however, the cultural gap was not bridged and Chinese women disagreed with this. Typically the Chinese viewed Dove’s ‘real’ woman as overweight and unattractive and not something to which they aspire.
(Dove China Real Beauty Campaign)
With this in mind, Dove China then changed its tactics to continue this campaign by building partnerships with a Chinese TV show, Ugly Wudi. The message of the Real Beauty campaign was blended into the TV show’s storyline along with Wudi’s blog and other live online chats. After these changes, Dove China was able to attract millions of researchers and blog entries, they saw a 21% sales growth in Dove body wash and a 44% increase in terms of the Real Beauty campaign’s awareness.
Do not forget the social, basic function of social media which can be very useful in building a brand community.
Marketing strategy vs Business strategy
Many people will assume that brand community is the only marketing strategy where one collects as many followers or fans as possible. However, the brand community can be more powerful than this, it has the potential to lead and change the entire business operation and serve as a business strategy.
It similar to the theory we all agree with, that “Customers come first”. It is the people inside the brand community that matter the most because they are the suppliers of practical insights from the customers’ points of view. Learning how to adjust your business strategy based on the research from your brand community will increase the possibility of success.
Customer Service Channel
Be where your customers are. Brands need to understand their customers’ social media behavior so they can join and be active on the right communication channels. You may try to join some conversation groups related to your field of business online to provide professional advice and build up e-reputation.
Be there when they need you the most. Among all the customer service cases, the majority of the situations are negative. Customers need you the most when they encounter some kind of problems relating to your service, your merchandise, or your brands. Social media can provide you with an instant conversational channel to solve the situation right away and regain the trust of customers within a shorter amount of time.
Be there to add value not be defensive Remember the true purpose of providing customer service is to serve consumers’ needs rather than argue with them to see who is right. Listen to your customers carefully before taking further action. Your brands are there to add value to customers’ brand experience instead of defending your company.