It’s become increasingly apparent that marketers across Europe, North America and Australia see China as the next great marketing conquest.
China has a population of 1.35 billion. 635 millions of these are internet users; this is a number that is constantly growing. Is there any end to the marketing possibilities in China?
It is, of course, not that simple. Citizens of China don’t engage with their preferred brands in the same way that us in Western countries do, it’s equally as important to remember that they use completely different platforms, too.
So, If you think it’s as simple as marketing towards the Chinese on your go-to social media platforms such as Facebook/Twitter, you’re very wrong. However, the concepts are essentially the same.
Chinese Social Media Platforms
Sina Weibo: We have Twitter, China have Sina Weibo. They really are that similar. They are both microblogging sites that allow you to post updates up to 140 characters whilst adding links, photos and videos.
WeChat: We don’t extensively use a platform similar to WeChat, although they do exist. WeChat allows users to send text and voice messages to each other, play video games, watch videos as well as having the ability to make purchases and online shop. Marketers can have their own accounts for their own content but could also make use of their ads that can be broadcasted to custom audiences. Remember: Because of China’s more developed net speeds and bandwidth, video content is far more effective and popular.
Qzone: This is the most popular social network in China right now. Sitting at over 600m users with projections to increasing growth, users can blog, share and listen to music as well as being able to send photos and videos to each other. From a marketer’s point of view, this is ideal for a blogging site allowing you to integrate multimedia.
Youku: Videos get uploaded by users, it gets rated and has a commenting system. Ring any bells? To simplify, this is more-or-less China’s equivalent of Youtube.
Understandably, you don’t have to focus conclusively on one platform. In saying that, mastering one platform and building a sincere presence could be far more beneficial than a lesser presence on three platforms. I would recommend mastering one platform before moving onto the next.
What to remember when marketing online in China
- Google is banned. Simple as that, chinese servers will not allow you on Google (including Google+). Baidu and 360 Search will fulfill your search engine needs.
- Advertising on Mobile is massive. The number of mobile social media users stood at 335m in 2015 and is projected to increase to 480m; that’s about a third of the population of China, or 6% on the population of the world. That’s a lot of people.
- China is strange.. to us. It really is, it’s a completely different culture with social norms that may seem bizarre.. to us. For example, in 2009, Dove took their “Real Woman, Real Beauty” campaign to marketers in China. Chinese women were under the impression the women in the campaign were fat and ugly, forcing Dove to put a U-turn on their strategy and lead with the Chinese version of “Ugly Betty”. Always have a plan B.
- Censorship in China is very real. Do your research.
Social media in China is an exciting prospect for any marketer. It’s an incredible chance to reinvent your brand for a new and vastly different market so get creative and remember to keep your audience’s interests at the forefront of your mind all the time.