Social Media marketing in China – where to begin

Where do you start?  Well, not with Facebook, Twitter or Youtube, which are all banned in China!  But before you remove   “write Chinese social media plan” from your ‘to do’ list, you might want to pause and read on a little; social media marketing is more critical in China than in any other market in the world. Here’s why:

1. Social media is huge in China!
China is the most active social media market in the world with over 500 million having a social media account (and the vast majority of these having more than one supplier).

2. Social media is a key source for decision making in China
In a market where many are sceptical of institutional messages, peer-led social media comment is a huge opinion shaper. According to the German Consultancy company Z Punkt,  48% of Chinese consumers are using social media in their travel planning.  

3. Chinese actively use social media to ‘interact’ with brands
66% of Chinese social media “interact” with brands (Insites Consulting) and  61% of Chinese would write about positive experiences and 53% about negative  experiences; this compares with 36% and 29% with Americans (Edelman Digital).
social media in ChinaSo, with Facebook and Twitter out of the picture, just who are the social media players in China? Unlike the west,  China’s social-media sector is fragmented and regional.  All the key players share some characteristics of their western counterparts, though they are often hybrids of the same.
In microblogging (or weibo), for example,  Sina Weibo and Tencent Qzone are the closest equivalents to Twitter.  The instant messaging market is increasingly dominated by Wechat, who have rapidly grown in recent years at the expense of Renren.  However Renren continue to play a big role in the field of mobile communication and private social networking apps, particularly amongst the student population.  Finally, in the video sharing market, Youku and Tudou are the closest equivalent to YouTube.

Competition in this market is ferocious with the ground is constantly shifting. For marketeers, the fragmentation increases the complexity of the social media landscape, but the basic rules of social media marketing in the west hold true in China.  However, you will need partners on the ground in China to help guide you, and provide real time responses to your customers.

Kathy, Vivienne and Lily from the CTO team in Beijing,

At China Travel Outbound, we can help you with your Chinese social media strategy and implement and manage your Chinese social media accounts on your behalf.  We will communicate in real time, in a tone appropriate both to your brand and to your customer base in China, with regular posts, tweets and updates.  We can provide you with recommendations on promotions and competitions, create video and write copy on your behalf.  At our monthly account management meetings, we will provide you with an overview of how your brand is performing in China as a result of our activity on your behalf.


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