The whole Chinese digital ec0-system is cut off by the ‘Great Chinese Firewall’, this has resulted in a completely unique internet environment where Chinese platforms dominate. You need to understand how to market yourself on these platforms to succeed in China.
In this ‘hyper digital age’ the Chinese research extensively online before purchasing..
Baidu (China’s Google) is really the bedrock of any campaign in China. 75% of all online research is carried out through this dominant search engine. A quality Chinese website needs to be visible here based on Mandarin Character keyword searches.
Baidu also has ‘Tieba’, a popular forum attached to the search engine appears high in the search results. Users up-vote content (like on Reddit) to increase it’s visibility. This is a good forum to build you reputation on because positive posts and threads will always appear highly ranked in the search results.
Damac, a Dubai based luxury real estate firm, launched a very successful Baidu campaign appearing on the first page of the results for 15 different keywords. This approach helped us drive 120 property investor leads to the company per month. Visibility is key, you just have to understand what keywords the Chinese are searching for. Read a Good SEO agency in China
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WeChat is really the undisputed king of marketing platforms in China with over 850 million active monthly users. There a many different avenues to consider on what can be thought of as the ‘Facebook of China’.
Firstly you set up an official account which you use to promote content and encourage user to user sharing on their ‘moments’, this is equivalent to their news feed.
WeChat is a great launch pad for content and is fondly referred to as the ‘WeChat Times’ because so many users search here for information. Having an official account is just expected for any serious business.
After this you can consider tapping into WeChat groups, very active communities of up to 500 users which are based around specific area’s of interest.
This is very effective from a marketing point of view, you can engage directly with active communities that are relevant to the products or services you are offering. Sharing content here is very targeted.
WeChat have also incorporated ‘mini stores’ to allow instant sales via the platforms in-built e-wallet payment system. This makes payment very easy and convenient.
‘Vancouver Fashion Week’ grew their reputation and visibility WeChat by sharing quality articles on the event which was specifically aimed at Chinese fashionista’s, buyers, visitors and exhibitors. Posts were on average liked over 2000 times and shared 250 times onto user’s news feeds. This generated a real ‘buzz’ about the event on the largest digital information feed in China. There is a much stronger culture of sharing in this market.
Weibo is ‘China’s Twitter’, the name literally translates as ‘micro blog’. It has not been beset by the same issues that Twitter has with many different revenue streams. There are a host of campaigns that can be run on this very ‘brand friendly platform’.
Weibo is far more ‘open’ network, users can see posts from anyone, they don’t have to be connected first.. this increases the likelihood of building visibility.
Weibo were thought to be losing out with the rise of WeChat but they are still showing great growth.
A few key features include live streaming and a very good integration with e-commerce, China’s kingpin e-retail giant ‘Alibaba’ are now behind the platform creating a very supportive environment for brands and sales.
WeChat is certainly a more active platform which can make it harder to be visible, Weibo on the other hand with it’s 250 million active users is less congested, allowing more space for brands to market themselves.
Weibo worked wonders for the Austrian children’s drink brand ‘Twist & Drink’. They created a colorful campaign based around different cartoon characters for each flavored drink bottle. Weibo was used to interact with potential consumers, they increased their following by 134% by taking an active ‘social’ approach. They also used live streaming to showcase the products to their followers.
Cross promotion is also important, Twist & Drink embedded QR codes (which link to WeChat) into their Weibo posts to drive traffic to their other official account.
Before WeChat there was another platform launched by the same company (Tencent), called QQ. QQ is still a force to be reckoned with, they have almost 850 million users and are typically associated with the post 90’s generation. QQ is a messenger service that is based around group and individual chats.
The same type of targeted marketing applies but to a younger population, if this is your audience then QQ is a must. The platform also tends to be stronger in smaller third or fourth tier cities and more rural China.
It is worth noting that WeChat has only just surpassed QQ in terms of their user number, it is still a dominant platform and a force to be reckoned with.
Zhihu is China’s ‘Quora’, it is a very popular Q&A forum with 70 million active users. It is great for more niche industries. By answering specific questions related to your industry you can raise your profile, Zhihu also often appears in Baidu’s search results alongside an official website. It is very reputable.
‘Vita Wei’ a popular high-end, everyday wear Chinese brand grew themselves well on Zhihu. They posted many topics and threads about fashion and daily clothing choices, this was then linked to the brand’s relaunch as a quality Chinese brand which could compete with international players. The message was support quality brands from China too!
Converting your following
As WeChat becomes more competitive and cluttered starting a campaign on these smaller platforms allows you to stand out and build your presence and the necessary groundwork for your future success in China.
You can always convert your following from these smaller platforms to WeChat. Yes, WeChat is dominant but it can pay to step up to this most competitive social marketing arena with an intelligent step by step approach on other platforms.