China, the social innovator and trendsetter

By Katy Howell | December 9, 2021

Everyone loves social media, and China is no exception. With over 931 million active monthly users, it is the largest social media market in the world! However, in China, social is nothing like what you and I are used to. The platforms are different, with advertising, algorithms, and influencers that are all unique to each. And the campaigns are out of this world!

In a recent episode of Serious Social, Katy Howell sat down with CEO of Emerging Communications, Domenica Di Lieto, to get to grips with the Chinese social media market and pull out opportunities that we could adopt in the west. So, today we’re outlining a few points that were discussed and what you can takeaway.

Who are the main players?

The most dominant consumer social channels in China are WeChat, Weibo, Douyin – the Chinese version of TikTok – and Bilibili. And for B2B, Jouhou and Little Red Book.

So, what’s different about Chinese social media?

It’s known in China that B2B brands tend to shy away from social media as many believe it’s not relevant to the means of their business or something they’ve done before. However, the way you build your reputation on social media is critical and essential to your business, due to users turning to social for recommendations and advice on products and services.

Social is intrinsically part of consumer behaviour. From booking a doctor’s appointment to paying for goods to seeking recommendations from peers when considering a purchase, no matter how big or small. And the difference in behaviour drives the differences in each channel.

Where is the opportunity for brands when it comes to China’s social media landscape?

  • Creative campaigns. The creativity of social media campaigns can be mind-blowing, “whether they’re 3D projections or out of home connected to social, really seamlessly, the ability for commerce to really be that centre point of the way that social works”.
  • Social commerce. Many well-known brands here in the west have grown in popularity in China by truly understanding their audiences and creating a seamless customer journey through AI and live-stream shopping.
  • Understanding the need for quality content. Now, this is one that many businesses are already following (or so we hope) but creating truly engaging content that resonates with your audience is key to social success. Not just posting for the sake of it.

Advice for brands looking to enter the Chinese market

  1. Choose your audience and discover where they are. Don’t try and leverage all the social channels if your budgets are small as this can be an expensive route.
  2. Build a reputation. To ‘break’ China, you need to build credibility on your channel of choice with your audience. Let people get to know you so you can encourage word of mouth recommendations and engagements.
  3. Consider how to leverage what you have, for example, do you have any assets within the business that can be localised to connect with audiences and drive a meaningful narrative?
  4. Measure what you can do and then measure your performance. Without measurement, you can’t determine what could work and what did or didn’t.

If your interest has been piqued, then catch up on the full conversation with Katy and Domenica here or tune into the podcast version here.

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