You will find in this complete Guide the Best Chinese social media for Marketing, with last update, figures and best strategies, done by expert.
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Chinese Social Media in 2021
- More than 850 million Chinese people are using the Internet in 2021
60% of the population compared to 300 million of the US
- There were around 673.5 million social media users in China in 2019
This makes China the world’s largest social media market, with people increasingly depending on such platforms to look for a place to share their opinions, ask for product recommendations, and connect with others.
- Chinese social media landscape is unique and constantly evolves with the emergence of new players every year to keep up with the high demand
- Global brands looking to build their presence in the Chinese market need to keep a close eye on what’s happening with these platforms.
In this post, we’ll introduce you to some of the most important Chinese social media sites, and examine the opportunities for businesses on these sites in 2019.
Social Media in China for Marketing
1. WECHAT – THE SUPER APP
In 2021, WeChat is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. To celebrate its success over the years, the star social media launched new features: short videos, animated emojis, status updates, and WeBeans.
- In 2020, WeChat reached 1.2 billion monthly active users
Data from Statista.com & WeChat Annual Report
- Messages: 38 billion messages are exchanged daily, almost like WhatsApp (55 billion)
- Videos: 68M videos are uploaded every day on WeChat
- Average time spent: 66 minutes on WeChat daily
- Frequency of daily use: 60% of WeChat users open the app more than 10 times a day
- Number of WeChat official accounts: 20+ million accounts
- Weight of mini-programs: 70+ million mini-programs (95% of e-commerce brands have one)
The app started as an instant messaging app but now has developed an ecosystem where users can perform a wide variety of activities such as making transactions, ordering food, booking movie tickets, calling a taxi, playing games… The more users commit to Wechat and longer time they spend on the app, the greater marketing opportunities it offers.
How brands do marketing on Wechat?
- Official account:
It’s like the house of brands where they publish content, news, information, promotion … to update followers, which finally leads to more sales.
- Wechat Content marketing:
According to recent research, 49% of the WeChat users would share an article on their moment if they believe it’s useful. Publishing valuable and compelling content on Wechat can:
- enhance your brand image
- increase customer engagement and convert your followers into buyers. Among all forms of content, video format proves to be the most popular and effective on Wechat
- WeChat search:
In 2018, Wechat introduced a search feature, which brands could utilize to improve the velocity of their content. The search function on WeChat is still relatively new. Therefore, extensive research and testing have yet to yield any concrete strategies to master WeChat search. If it happens to be like any other search engine, keyword optimization could help drive traffic to relevant articles.
- The “Wow” of Wechat:
Earlier this year (2020) Wechat added a “time capsule” feature similar to Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook’s stories feature. A lesser-known addition was the “Wow” feature. If users click the “like” button for an article on Wechat, the article will then be shown to all the user’s contacts under the “Wow” tab under WeChat’s “Top Stories” section. This drastically increases the exposure of the articles organically.
- Location-Based Marketing:
Wechat can detect user location, enabling brands to target potential customers nearby. This feature covers more than 300 cities and 2,500 counties nationwide. Leveraging your WeChat followers’ location information can be beneficial for online and offline businesses.
- HTML5 campaigns:
Brands can create different HTML5 campaigns such as games, quizzes, voting… to boost engagement from followers or to create sales directly.
- KOLs promotion:
Brands leverage popular Wechat accounts of KOLs who have huge followings to spread the message.
- Wechat advertising:
Wechat ads include Moment ads (shown on Moments) and banner ads (blended into targeted articles) to increase the reach for brands.
Check out this guide. It’d give you a more detailed understanding of Wechat’s advertising and growth.
2. WEIBO – THE ESSENTIAL SOCIAL MEDIA
- Weibo active users: 523 million (2020)
- Daily active users: 224 million (2020)
- 50% increase in live stream sessions
- Q&A postings increased by 400% in 2018 compared to 2017
- 82% of Weibo users shop online
Weibo is basically an open social media platform (more than Wechat) where people not only post, share and interact but also get updated on trends and news. This is the place for content to go viral and for KOLs to build their online communities.
How brands do marketing on Weibo?
- Content marketing on Weibo:
Like on any social media, brands can create their accounts and post interesting content to attract and engage followers. Once articles are read by a certain number of users, they can gain popularity on the hot-topic or super-topic community forums.
- Videos and live streaming :
Weibo has its own live stream platform, called Yizhibo live, which quickly rose to popularity after its release. It has attracted KOLs and celebrities to do product and service promotions.
- E-commerce integration:
Brands can link Taobao stores and products in their posts. With many users already having Alipay linked to their Weibo accounts, they can purchase featured products with just one click. Therefore, Weibo can be very effective in driving online sales.
- Weibo stories:
One of the most recent features on Weibo is the stories feature. It’s very similar to Instagram stories but as of now, only verified official accounts can post a story.
3. QQ – THE BIGGEST DIGITAL PLATFORM YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD OF
- QQ was launched in 1999 (5 years before Facebook!)
- #2 most popular messages app after WeChat
- QQ monthly active users: 660 million (2020)
- Daily messages: 13.6 billion
- Time spent online by post-90s generation: 3h48 per day
At launch, QQ was just a simple instant messenger. Today, you can play online games, send and receive emails and large files, share Snapchat-style disappearing videos and animations, and join online groups of like-minded individuals. You can also stream music, find a partner via QQ’s dating service, and use the Facebook-like Qzone for sharing with friends and reading their posts in your news feed.
Why marketers should consider QQ?
- QQ’s demographics trend towards the young and unsophisticated. 60% are under 30 years old and come from 2nd and 3rd tier cities. They have strong potential as they have an increased purchasing power. They also have more time to spend on entertainment and stronger willing to try new stuff. Brands can use QQ to engage with younger and future generations of consumers.
- QQ is also popular in the workplace. They like its ease of use and facility for transmitting large files like images and video. White-collar workers use QQ for daily communication and file transferring instead of email.
- Many celebrities use also QQ and Qzone to communicate with fans. Chinese boy band TFBoys boasts 42 million QQ followers.
- QQ group chats allow users of the same interests to connect and brands to run targeted campaigns
- QQ shopping enables users to browse products from JD.com and purchase them easily.
4. YOUKU – The Chinese Youtube
- Monthly active users: 500 million (2020)
- Daily active users: 39.6 million (2020)
- Daily video views: 1.18 billion video views (2020)
- Average visit duration: 4min24 (2020)
Youku is often called the Youtube of China. Yes, like Youtube, it is a video hosting service. In China, Youku is one of the most important online video and streaming service platform. The unique point of Youku is that it offers long-form videos. Despite the emergence of a short video and live streaming platforms, longer videos are still preferred when users want to gain deeper knowledge, learn about a topic, or watch the news.
There is definitely still life in long-form video. It’s more searchable and appealing if you want to learn something or have a fuller experience with a content creator.
What are the brands’ strategies on Youku?
Youku can help you reach out to a wider audience. It is a widely accessible media platform with tons of views every day. This is a great social media to promote digital ads. You can use the pre-roll ads, the post-roll ads, or even the banner ads. Your advertising will be displayed while the user is watching a video, which will increase your brand visibility. Indeed, Youku wisely selects a target audience depending on the content they used to be interested in.
- Positive exposure:
For Chinese digital lovers, Youku is considered a premium video platform. If your brand is visible on this platform, users will discover your brand in a positive way. You are linked to the quality of the support and users will trust your brand.
- Website visibility:
Youku is a great tool to increase brand awareness and loyalty. It offers great exposure for your brand via video content and drives traffic to your website. Chinese netizens cannot necessarily find your website, especially if you have a bad SEO on Baidu. So, having visibility on Youku will help you increase your conversion rate your sales.
Check out this guide for more details on how to do marketing on Youku.
5. Baidu’s Tieba
- Social network created by Baidu in December 2003
- Forum platform to encourage users to share opinions and comments
- Registered users: 1.5 billion people (2020)
- Monthly active users: 300 million (2020)
- Topic boards: 8.2 million
Tieba is essentially a BBS (bulletin board system) or online community where users can search or create a forum (or “bar”) by simply entering a query within the search bar. If the forum doesn’t exist yet, there will be one automatically created from the query.
Baidu Tieba for Niche Market
One of the things that makes Tieba so great is that the topics can be hyper-specific; anything from niche video games to types of cell phone cases can be a “bar” (topic).
One thing to keep in mind is that Tieba doesn’t allow ads. So make sure to keep your posting informative as possible and try not to include too many links.
Users, especially businesses, can create their own content and target specific niche groups through the platform. Businesses can post on a range of topics and utilize the platform to engage with other users. This is what makes it so popular for many social media marketers in China.
Using this platform correctly can help develop an organic presence in China without paid advertising. This platform can be very useful for businesses that have good brand awareness in China, yet little presence on Chinese social media platforms. It can also be a powerful tool for collecting feedback from Chinese netizens.
6. ZHIHU – THE CHINESE QUORA
- Registered accounts: 220 million (2020)
- Daily active users: 34 million (2020)
- Number of answers shared: 130 million (2020)
Zhihu, the Chinese version of Quora, is a popular online Q & A and social platform in China.
Zhihu was attracted from the beginning to the social elites like lawyers, independent consultants, IT professionals, and entrepreneurs who want to share their specialties with others and gain wisdom in return.
Besides, Zhihu gave high authority on answers that get the most upvotes and they don’t order the answers by time series. This also helps encourage people to get serious about answering. In these ways, Zhihu has maintained high trustworthiness among users.
So what makes Zhihu an ideal place for content marketing?
- Users on Zhihu are promising consumers because Zhihu’s user base are high income, high consumption, and highly educated people. Actually, 30% of Zhihu users make more than 10,000 RMB per month.
- Free SEO option; This is due to the high domain authority Zhihu has on mainstream search engines like Baidu, Sogou. Whenever a keyword is searched on Baidu, you can always see a Zhihu Q&A (if has) on the first SERP. In this way, a brand can also get some free ride on SEO.
- Long term branding for brands; Zhihu’s voting mechanism enables good content to last. Many brands say even today they can get upvote on the posts/answers that were published in year 2011. Long-term branding will work very well on this platform.
- KOLs promotion: top contributors on Zhihu have managed to gain massive followings on the platform thanks to their in-depth answers. Collaborating with these top contributors can help brands reach their target audience and cultivate a sense of trust from Zhihu users.
7. TOUTIAO – The Hottest News, Information & Entertainment Platform
Toutiao, which literally means “Today’s Headlines”, is an emerging mobile platform of content creation, aggregation, and distribution, featured by machine learning techniques.
- Daily active users: 260 million (2020)
- Average app opening by user: 9 times per day
- Average time spent on Toutiao: 76 minutes per day
- #1 intelligent content distribution platform in China
- Number of accounts: 1.1 million
- Daily content views: 4.2 billion
Toutiao “intelligent news feed”
The most significant selling point of Toutiao is its “intelligent news feed”, where artificial intelligence and machine learning software tailor and bring audience content based on their unique interests and browsing history. Its AI-powered information/content platform means, the more people use it, the more data people can contribute. The more data people contribute, the better-fit content they will see, then the more frequently people use it.
How brands do marketing on Toutiao?
- Targeted advertising:
Imagine obtaining access to Toutiao’s huge database of sticky users, hungering for new information. Placing advertisements on the platform or releasing advertorials can have exceptional effects on brands. Often, ads appear in the feed with no specification. There is a strong culture of clicking on ads on Toutiao because users see them as more trustworthy and useful. You can have access to a daily 650 million people base with a higher ROI on your targeted ads.
- SEO Push strategy:
Brands can also register an account on Toutiao to publish quality content and gain followers. Various renowned news firms such as CCTV news and People.cn have joined to seek greater exposure through the platform. Why? Because the platform is not based on search queries but on content promotion. In a word, it is a Push strategy rather than a Pull strategy. You can perform by using HTML 5 or lead generation, which would help you reach a cost per impression (CPI) of 20-25 RMB.
- Q&A opportunity:
On the platform, Toutiao launched a Q&A channel. If you follow us for some time, you may have understood how important forums are for Chinese netizens. They love to spend time on their phone, reading opinions and recommendations on several topics. On Toutiao Q&A, users can share their experiences and interact with others. The AI of the platform goes even further! Depending on their answers on the Q&A channel, Toutiao will highlight new content in the user’s feed.
- Entertaining content:
Toutiao is owned by ByteDance. You know this group right? The famous holder of TikTok & Douyin that we will talk about just after. Then, Toutiao is using the same business model of entertainment and addictive content. The platform is not like any other content platform based on intelligent but boring content. Toutiao promotes smart and entertaining content. What is the direct impact? For your brand, you will increase your brand awareness and obtain a higher engagement.
8. Douyin / TikTok – THE MOST POPULAR SHORT TERM VIDEO PLATFORM (hot in 2020)
- #1 short videos platform has entered a period of rapid growth
- Monthly active users: 800 million (2020)
- Daily active users: 600 million (2020)
The number of users increased by +200% in only 2 years
- Average time spent on Douyin: 45 minuter per day
- 57% of the Douyin/TikTok worldwide users are in China
Douyin allows users to create and share creative and trendy short-form videos. Short videos are, unlike long-form video, optimal for engagement and virality. Douyin provides the ability to edit videos with engaging special effects and funny stickers to inspire its users to produce more and share more of these kinds of funny short videos with their friends.
- Brands can use content marketing to attract users. However, a brand’s content has to carry the right tone to be a good fit for the platform and must not be intrusive. Some brands (Airbnb, Harbin Beer, and Chevrolet) collaborate with Douyin influencers to share their brands (though content that appears in the user’s information stream) in a way that is consistent with both the Douyin tone and brands’ personalities.
- Customized challenges on Douyin is an effective way to create a social buzz for brands: Douyin is really great at creating challenges for users to engage and prove their creativity. This tactic incentivizes mass participation and results in the social buzz that can connect users to brands more effectively.
Ctrip, China’s leading online travel agency, partnered with Douyin to initiate a hashtag challenge during the National Day holidays. Ctrip encouraged users to share their creative traveling experience with Ctrip’s sticker and tagged cities. Not only Ctrip harvested more than 4 billion views within just a week. In addition, the company also collected the top traveling city data for further marketing purposes.
9. Meituan Dianping – THE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR THE FOOD & CINEMA LOVERS
- #1 marketplace in China and one of the most innovative companies globally
- Monthly active users: 310 million (2020)
- Registered merchants: 6.3 million (2020)
- Registered buyers: 476 million (2020)
- Purchasing influence: 1 in 4 Chinese people has made a purchase on the platform
- Transactions: 20 million per day
- Type of vendors: restaurants, hotels, movie theatres, hair salons, …
Meituan Dianping is China’s leader in O2O (offline-to-online) services, creating a one-stop super app for a range of services, from haircuts, manicures, and massages, to movie tickets, food delivery, and hotel bookings.
The company is the current golden egg of Tencent. Yes, you’re right, the supergiant Tencent, which owns WeChat! Meituan Dianping is the fusion of the former food delivery service Meituan (2010) and the former restaurant reviews app Dianping (2013). Thanks to this fusion, businesses can reach out to Meituan Dianping’s huge database through advertisements. They can choose from a wide range of services including SEO, image promotion, URL promotion, and website ads offered by the platform.
What are the services available on Meituan Dianping?
- Meituan Waimai – The food delivery service like Deliveroo or UberEats in Europe
- Dazhong Dianping – The restaurants’ reference to read reviews and recommendations
- Meituan – The platform dedicated to group offers and discounts like Groupon in Europe
- Maoyan – The cinema ticket purchasing platform covering 600 cities in China
- And many more…
How brands do marketing on Meituan Dianping?
- Omnichannel strategy:
Meituan Dianping benefits from a strong customer base and apps ecosystem. As you have seen they cover many daily needs from food to entertainment. Indeed, the platform is successful thanks to an omnichannel strategy. 80% of the users who make a hotel reservation on MD have already used the platform to order food in the past. Chinese people are more likely to use this platform as it combines all they need on a daily basis.
- Location targeting:
With its enormous customer base, Meituan Dianping benefits from a large database. This social media uses the location, preferences, and habits of its users. It helps the platform to promote restaurants, brands, or content that the user is more likely to prefer. In a word, the app takes care of everything depending on your brand’s assets and products. You can have a better engagement and easily increase your ROI.
- Database access:
Additionally, like other Chinese social media, Meituan Dianping owns big data of users such as demographics, location, consuming patterns, and preferences. By analyzing their target customers and tailor-making their marketing strategies, brands can increase customer loyalty and brand awareness.
10. MOMO – THE CHINESE TINDER
- #1 app for hook up among young Chinese
- Monthly active users: 112 million (2020)
- Average time spent on the app increased by 11% YOY
Momo is one of China’s leading mobile-based social and entertainment platforms that include a live-streaming platform and online dating platforms. It’s popular for making friends with nearby strangers. And, it was well known as a tool for “getting laid” with strangers.
Momo users can find people nearby and send each other text messages, images, location information, and voice messages. It enables users to establish and expand their social relationships based on locations and interests.
To do so, Momo creates various location and interest-based features, such as Nearby Users, Groups, Message Board, Topics and Nearby Events, multi-media instant messaging tools, as well as popular mobile games. The various functions are connected with each other. For example, Nearby People function features links to nearby Groups and Nearby Events
Why Momo is important for businesses?
One of Momo’s biggest sources of revenue comes from advertising. They also launched a new advertising platform for offline retailers.
- Advertising on Momo
Advertisers can target customers through location-based services as well as standard targeting options based on interests, demographics, etc. For instance, when users are searching for their potential dates, advertisers can place an ad for a local bar or club with a discount offer on their result sites so as to attract customers to pay a visit.
- Targeting on Momo
Momo offers relatively advanced targeting for advertising because users purposely fill in their accounts with information on their interests and more to make themselves attractive to other users. For that reason, advertising on Momo very powerful for businesses, so this one makes the list!
WHAT’S HOT IN 2021?
- Xiahongshu – The Chinese Instagram
Xiaohongshu is also called Little Red Book. This social media is a great tool if you need to target Chinese women. Why? Because 80% of the community on Xiaohongshu are women.
- Bilibili – The Community Virality
Bilibili is often considered to be the Chinese YouTube, with 172 million monthly users. Unlike YouTube or TikTok, the promotion of a video is not based on a specific algorithm to boost visibility. It is all about community and recommendations, a great opportunity depending on your local strategy.
- Kuaishou – The Booming Trend of Short Videos
Kuaishou is a great alternative to Douyin for short videos. In 2020, Kuaishou reached 300 million daily users and a total of 20 billion videos uploaded on the platform. Today, the way we sell online with videos is evolving fast and you need to stay up-to-date with all the existing social media.
These 10 Chinese social media sites above were the hottest ones since 2019. There are other social media platforms that target specific industries that we have not mentioned in this article. Hence, make sure to research them and find the platform that makes the most sense for your business. Social media marketing in China can be difficult and complicated at the first size, but they certainly are amazing tools for brands to reach and connect with the Chinese audience.
Social Media Marketing report in China (made by GMA)
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