China Social Media Marketing
Social media has fundamentally changed the way of Chinese people’s life as well as the mode of marketing.
Four years ago when Weibo (Chinese twitter) launched, there’s a saying goes “Consult Baidu on domestic affairs; consult Google on foreign affairs”. Everything changed after the booming of Social Media in China. People go to micro-blogging to check what’s popular today and what are their friends are doing; to review sites before making decision for purchase; to some special forums to talk with people of the same interest.
To summarize the change with one sentence is that people search and trust information from social media.
Why use social media in China
On social media in China, the praises or complaints from somebody in real life have great impact on people who don’t even know them. And that’s also the lure for companies to start their social media marketing in China.
Huge customer base
According to the data from CNNIC, there are over 274 million social media users in China. (* there are many reports give much bigger number than that, but their numbers are usually the number of account registered. The number here shows how many people have used Chinese social media in the past 6 months)
CNNIC also shows the trend that the traditional media is losing its credibility while social media is winning more trust from Chinese netizens. One of their report shows that 48% people would trust SNS more than TV.
Friendly to companies
Study also shows that China SNS users are more friendly to company information than others.
Important to consumers’ decision
The impact of Social media on business also reflect on the consumers’ decision making process, CIC report shows that social media is the most influential factor for cellphone, consumer electronics, cosmetics, and baby care products consumers.
How to do Social media marketing
For the companies who want to develop their online marketing in China. They need to follow these three steps:
1. Positioning strategy
Before start social media marketing, a clear and consistent strategy for positioning is very important. Don’t dream that your consumers in China can link your brand with more than two characters. Take a look at all the successful brands in China social media; you will see all of them are stick to their own specific positioning with one character. For example, Durex appears as a funny friend always full of spicy jokes; Pepsi always communicates in a dynamic and fashion way.
Then all the communication plan and strategy will be made according to the positioning. For example, SNS where Chinese people use for jokes and adults content is suitable for Durex, but not for Pepsi. And the tone and content of the communication also need to be uniformed. A funny and salacious tone on social media is what Durex needs while Pepsi will prefer their content dynamic and fashionable.
As different companies have different positioning, everybody has his own standards and rules in social media marketing. The general rules here are:
Follow the positioning
No matter what positioning of your brand is made, it’s very important to keep it. Once you change the positioning, most of the work done before will be wasted. Some companies always change their positioning because of the criticism from the consumers. What’s puzzling is that sometimes they will continue buying your products while keep complaining. Taking Luis Vutton as an example, the criticism on their positioning as high luxury foreign brand never stopped, but they never change their brand positioning. And the result is their sales to Chinese people boost their business even during the financial crisis.
Responsive to sudden changes
Social media in China is so changeable that the way, the topic, the users, even the regulations you know today can be fundamentally changed overnight. For example, it takes Sina Weibo 4 years to get 300 million users while it only costs 2 years to get this target. Who knows how long the next one will take?
To catch the attention from your targets as much as possible, you have to pay close attention to what people’s attention goes. Those changes can come in many forms: breaking news, ordinary people’s stories, big events, etc. And then you need to see check if it’s necessary to take actions. For example, as cellphone netizens outnumbered computer netizens last year, you’ll need to study social media marketing on cellphone and put efforts to do that if it’s suitable for your brand to keep up with the trend.
Social media make fast and massive spread of information possible, and it also allows the spread of rumor. Brands need to pay attention to that because it’s the most harmful thing to your brand on social media.
To prevent the problems, companies need to prepare a regular monitoring and reaction plan, plus a professional team working on the PR crisis. Preparedness ensures security.
Click here to see the PR crisis case on McDonald’s
The combination of social media and offline events
Social media is the best tool to increase the brand awareness vastly in a short time at a low cost. After targets knowing your brand form social media, you can take offline events to attract them and turn them into customers. You can also do the contrary way, offline promotion events first, and then follows the social media marketing.
An inseparable part of successful social media marketing is to collect all the important record such as visitors, comments, shares, feedbacks and make analysis on the those data. The purpose is to get a better idea about what kind of people like to read? What do they like? Do other media like the content? All this information is very helpful to the next campaign.
Source: Sina Weibo, DCCI, CIC, CNNIC
If you have any questions or plan about social media in China. Don’t hesitate to contact me for more information or advice: marketingtochina[at]gmail.com