With a population of more than one billion, China may seem to be the perfect market for social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter. However, these popular online platforms are either blocked or cannot be accessed in the country. Some even dubbed such restrictions as part of “China’s Great Wall.”
The Chinese social media landscape is distinctive. When using digital marketing as a means of reaching new market, companies should use a different tone for them to get their message across the Chinese audience. In doing so, using the ‘homegrown’ social media channels is the best possible recourse.
Chinese Social Media
For business owners, overseeing the day-to-day operations of their company can take a lot of time and effort. Good thing that social media sites serve as an alternative platform in launching a company’s online marketing strategy. Having said that, Chinese social media management is different from other social media marketing strategies. Here are some of the popular social media channels that can help your business to make it big in China.
- Sina Weibo
Launched in 2009, Sina Weibo is the Chinese version of Twitter. In fact, “Weibo” means microblog in the Chinese language, which is the same purpose of the site’s Western counterpart. Long before Twitter users can tweet videos and images, Sina Weibo users can already do that.
The platform is also used by celebrities and businesses in connecting to their fan base. Basketball superstars like Lebron James and Kobe Bryant are considered as among the most influential celebrities in the Chinese social media sphere. They, too, have a big pool of followers in Sina Weibo. Even small businesses, like those selling new kitchen cabinets, have accounts in the largest weibo service in China. Multinational companies like Unilever and Ford can also be found in Sina Weibo.
From a marketing platform, Sina Weibo is slowly transforming into a service delivery platform. It also now includes a feature where businesses can sell money funds and insurance, aside from its P2P services.
QZone is the hybrid of Facebook and WordPress, where users can blog, send photos and listen to music. It is the largest social network in the country, with more than 700 million registered accounts and 598 million active users. QZone’s target market is teens wherein they can add background music and signatures on their profile — something that is similar to the defunct MySpace.
By paying a membership fee, users can unlock more features of this Chinese social media channel. In terms of digital marketing, businesses are encouraged to add a more personal touch on their campaign, rather than launching a targeted ad strategy. Companies that have been successful in penetrating this channel include Nike and BMW.
- Tencent QQ
Launched in 1999, Tencent QQ has more than one billion users worldwide. Features of this social media site include instant messaging, image hosting, games and music. In addition, QQ users can use Q coins in buying QQ-related merchandise, and even products or services in major online and retail stores. Multinational companies, such as Coca-Cola and Intel, can be found on Tencent QQ.
With less than a decade since it was introduced online, Renren now has at least 100 million active users. Site features include networking, posting and interacting, and photo and video hosting. Renren is the Chinese equivalent of Facebook, and offers quite the same functionality as its Western version.
In 2013, Renren launched its mobile extension service that is focused on e-commerce and mobile gaming. Businesses whose target market are students use Renren in its online marketing efforts.
WeChat can be likened to Skype and Foursquare, and is used for location-based video chatting and group messaging. As per Link Influence, there are over 600 million active monthly users who also use the platform in shopping, booking and connecting to local and international brands. The app’s social features also include discovering new friends, and voice and text messaging. Uniqlo, Mulberry and Twist and Drink use WeChat in selling their products.
- Youku Tudou
Youku Tudou is a video hosting site just like Youtube. People use the site in streaming, downloading and watching movies and TV shows. Fifteen percent of the site’s content are from users, while the remaining part are from their partners. Among these are tv stations, film production outfits and movie distributors in the country. Luxury brands, such as Cartier and Gucci, have their own channels in Youku Tudou.