MUST-KNOW CHINA SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS AND MARKETING TRENDS IN 2020
2 Jul , 2020

china-social-media-marketing-trends-2020-2 Eng.jpg

It is no secret that social media is inseparable with Chinese's daily lives. So, if your business is looking to thrive in China’s social media marketing, this is the right article for you, as we will introduce you the latest trends in the Chinese social media industry, and offer China social marketing tips, for free!

5 most popular social media platforms in China

As Western social media giants like Facebook and Twitter are not allowed in China, the country created its own social media ecosystem that shares similar features. It is of vital importance to understand your tools before using them. Therefore, we are here to introduce you the 5 most widely-used social media platforms in China.

1. WeChat

WeChat.jpg

Being the largest Chinese social media platform, WeChat has over 1.2 billion of monthly active users. From instant messaging to gaming, browsing mini programs to WeChat Pay, WeChat users can finish all the above without jumping from apps to apps, allowing this app to achieve such huge success.

Benefits of WeChat Marketing:

1. High user engagement on the all-in-one WeChat platform

WeChat is known for its comprehensiveness in functionality – it basically covers all Chinese consumers’ footprint in daily lives. Users can browse “Moments” published by friends and interested brands, make purchases, or even transfer money to friends. Other than online activities, WeChat also enables users to connect the offline world: they can make payment in physical stores by using WeChat Pay, or even hail a cab. This is why users spend averagely 85.8 minutes per day while 34% of the mobile data runs for WeChat. Longer usage time means a higher chance for your advertisements to be exposed to the audience.

2. Powerful WeChat CRM tool:

With the instant-messaging function, marketers can interact with its users personally, or set up WeChat chatbots — an artificial intelligence technology that stimulates human interactions with customers. Either way, WeChat messaging allows on-the-spot communications for businesses to answer customers' enquiries and handle complaints, creating a better customer experience.

Tips for WeChat Marketing:

1. Set up a verified WeChat business account

Being verified by WeChat as an official account gives your business a huge credit, making your business look legitimate from the audiences' eyes given the active counterfeit market in China. Owning a certified business account gives you certain benefits than just opening up a usual personal account: higher in rank in search results for your contents and offerings, ability to access the instant Customer Service tool, ability to receive paying via WeChat Pay, and more.

Feeling confused with setting up a business account on WeChat? Don’t worry, we have a team of expert to cater it for you. Contact us to get a free proposal now!

2. Establish WeChat O2O experience

If you are running a physical store, you can establish O2O experience via WeChat. Engage your instore customers to follow you on the platform to drive online traffic, such as printing QR codes on product packages with call-to-action phrases like “scan to get valuable tips”. By diverting traffic online, customers are more likely to be exposed with enticing promotional information placed on WeChat, which increases the chance for repeat purchases. With WeChat, customers are also given a platform for post-purchase customer service: they can ask for help via the instant-messaging function and get a prompt reply, creating a better customer experience. Your business can also encourage an Online to Offline experience by listing geographical locations of your stores on WeChat, encouraging product trials.

WeChat QR Code Promotion.jpgBaleno puts a QR code on a pull-up banner, and encourages passersby to follow them on WeChat by offering free gifts.

2. Douyin

Douyin.jpg

The short video platform has recently become one of the fastest growing apps in China, with 400 million daily active users as of January 2020. It attracts a massive population of the younger generation to be both the content creators and the viewers, and have created a lot of hot trends throughout China. The biggest feature is that videos uploaded could not last more than a minute, ensuring concise contents.

Benefits of Douyin Marketing:

1. Young and top-tier audience pool:

Douyin has over 85% of Post-90s Generation users who are the future major force in consumption; while 70% of users come from first and second-tier Chinese cities, indicating a higher level of consumption. Given its popularity and huge potential, Douyin could be the best place for your social media video marketing.

2. Engaging short video contents

Visuals and audios are often more eye-catching. The 1-minute video timespan with rousing music and dramatic visual effects allows rich and condensed content, grasping viewers’ attention and bring massive brand awareness.

Takeaway for Douyin Marketing:

1. Engage in Douyin Hashtag Challenges

Create innovative and entertaining hashtag campaigns for Douyin users to follow and spread. If you are unable to make a noise by creating a challenge on your own, you can also look for viral trends to participate. This allows a high exposure rate of your business's profile if you successfully engage users to spread your challenges and videos.

2. Frequently update your Douyin account. A LOT.

Luck is an important element when making the videos viral, and hence Douyin marketing is all about quantity. The more videos you upload on your Douyin account, the higher chance for your videos to be seen.

3. Create Douyin video effects and stickers

Another way to increase your brands' exposure is to create an innovative and aesthetic Douyin branded effect. Make sure it's engaging enough to increase the possibility for users to try out your stickers, spread it and increase your publicity.

Douyin Branded Effect Campaign.jpgSprite created a branded effect campaign called “Hot Summer Challenge”. The effect accentuates the product’s characteristic of delivering a sense of refreshment when the public consume the product.

We have a team of expert in Douyin marketing. Want to know how our team can help you thrive in the Chinese market? Click here to learn more.

3. Xiaohongshu

Xiaohongshu.jpg

Xiaohongshu is a user-generated content platform that focuses on word-of-mouth advertising. This Chinese version of the Pinterest-and-Instagram is a safety net for users to share and read authentic product review, especially for international luxury cosmetics. The in-app e-Commerce platform, RED Store, allows users to purchase credible products, given the prevailing counterfeit market trend in China.

Why Should You Choose Xiaohongshu:

1. A trustworthy platform leads to satisfying sales

There are certain policies on Xiaohongshu to ensure an authentic user experience. For instance, KOLs must maintain a 1:4-5 ratio of sponsored post to non-sponsored post to keep the originality of their reviews. Even the merchants on the RED store are approved by the platform before setting up their business on Xiaohongshu, providing a safe environment for users to shop in. Both the genuine discussion and verified sellers on Xiaohongshu attracts netizens who are seeking for honest advices and qualitified goods, leading to the 3-billion RMB sales just by the beginning of 2020.

2. Seamless shopping experience on Xiaohongshu

From discovering the latest trends, reading the products reviews and tips, to contacting customer services and making purchases, users can complete the whole purchase cycle without jumping from platforms to platforms. Such convenience increases the conversion rate.

How to Win in Xiaohongshu Marketing:

1. Set up a Xiaohongshu official account

Not only does being verified by Xiaohongshu increase your brand's credibility in the Chinese market, but also increases your brand's visibility because the Chinese netizens usually explore latest product trends on Xiaohongshu. It is also relatively lower in cost for setting up a verified account than other Chinese platforms.

2. Collaborate with KOLs on Xiaohongshu

Marketers can send out free PR gifts to KOLs who match the brand's image, in exchange of organic product reviews, increasing your products' exposure. This is a great word-of-mouth marketing strategy to entice the community to try out your product

Xiaoghonshu-KOL-Advertising.jpgIrene, who has 2.5 million followers on Xiaohongshu, collaborates with YSL Beauty by posting a review on the new cushion foundation the brand just launched. Xiaohongshu puts on a sign “collobrates with YSL Beauty” to indicate the paid-advertisment nature of this review.

4. Weibo

Weibo.jpg

Considered as the Chinese version of Twitter, Weibo is the second-largest social media platform in China, with more than 550 million monthly active users. Weibo gives you a wide choice of advertising forms, including organic content marketing like short videos, live streams and micro-blogging; you can also invest in paid advertising such as search engine advertising and display ad.

Benefits of Weibo Marketing:

1. Facilitate omnichannel user experience

Unlike other social media platforms, users are allowed to post external links on their Weibo accounts. Businesses can utilize the huge user base of Weibo to post the official website sitelink in noticeable areas, such as the profile section, to perform a cross-platform marketing. This can direct some traffic from Weibo to other desirable platforms, bridging the gaps between platforms and providing a complete user experience to the audiences.

External Links on Weibo.pngShanghai Disneyland includes clickable links on their profile section on the left, as well as to include QR code to drive traffic on both their official website and WeChat account.

2. Search Engine advertising is available on Weibo

Weibo is one of the few Chinese social media platforms that has its own search engine. Similar to Google SEM, marketers on Weibo can pay for the keywords so that the post could be on the top of the search results. This is beneficial to businesses if they have the budget for a higher exposure.

Weibo Search Engine.pngOn the hot search hashtags list: the third result with the blue tag is a paid advertisement.

Tips to excel in Weibo Marketing:

1. Apply to be on the Weibo Whitelist of external links

In mid-2020, Weibo announced a new policy regarding on external links to fight frauds; domains that are not on Weibo's whitelist will be blocked. If you want to include your business’s website on your Weibo, you can submit your application to Weibo via private message to https://weibo.com/qiyehelp.

2. Choose a good content schedule to post on Weibo

Creating a good content does give your traffic a credit; but you should also pay attention to the time you upload the content during the day. There is no absolute golden time to update your Weibo – it all depends the targeted audience of your post. If you are targeting office ladies, office after-hours are best for you as your intended readers cannot look into your post during working hours; but if you are looking for B2B opportunities, weekday mornings could be a perfect timing for you.

5. Toutiao

Toutiao.jpg

Toutiao is a content platform that shares informational articles and videos from other 1.1+ million publishers. Up till today, this fast-growing digital platform has reached over 700 million registered users. The story behind the success is its AI technology: it uses machine learning to understand users’ reading habits, then customize a list of articles that suit readers’ taste based on the data.

Benefits of Toutiao Marketing:

1. Integration with other short-video platforms

Short videos have become the latest trend in China, while Toutiao’s parent company, ByteDance, owns a few popular short-video platforms, including Flipagram and Douyin. Toutiao makes good use of this connection: on Toutiao, in addition to the personalized news content, users are able to watch videos generated by other platforms. This attracts convenience-seeking audiences to watch a variety of videos on Toutiao, without jumping from one app to another.

2. Young and highly-educated user base

85% of Toutiao users are under the age of 35; more than 40% users on the platform are holding a bachelor degree or higher while 37.8% are either freelancer, self-employed or private company owners. If these demographics are your targeted audience, Toutiao would be a great place to fulfill your marketing objectives.

How to Make Good Use of Toutiao:

1. Create informational contents

The platform is occupied by savvy users, and that they are often looking for informational content on this Today’s Headline platform. As a marketer, you should focus on creating insightful contents on your official account to provide a comprehensive know-how to your readers.

Toutiao-Content-Marketing.jpgTake a look on this example of Tesla on Toutiao: the electric-car pioneer introduces explicit tips on car maintenance under damp and hot weather.

2. Structure your articles with relevant keywords for visibility on Toutiao

Bear in mind: this platform relies greatly on its algorithm when recommending your content pieces to the readers. That being said, highly relevant keywords are favorable in delivering your articles to your potential consumers. Do more keyword research to find suitable wordings to increase your exposure rate.

Hottest Social Media Marketing Trends in China

Now that you understand characterstics of different platforms in China, it does not mean you are ready to enter this market. Leverage the platforms well with some state-of-the-art practices will do the trick. In the next part, we are here to share with you some China social media marketing tricks for your business to thrive!

1. China KOL / KOC

We believe the term KOL (Key Opinion Leader) is no stranger to you. But lately a new term KOC: Key Opinion Customer surges in China. KOCs are everyday consumers who share their reviews and tips of products and services on social media. Compared to KOLs, KOCs have a lower number of followers, ranging from a few hundreds to 100Ks, which leads to a more intimate interaction between KOCs and their followers; KOCs are also seen as more relatable and authentic in audiences’ eyes when it comes to product recommendations. Therefore, a lot of social media users would seek KOCs for personal advices for purchase decisions.

But that does not mean KOLs are out of the market. KOLs have a broader audience base, allowing a higher exposure rate; the public also sees KOLs’ styles as the norm to be followed, and therefore items used by KOLs sometimes might go viral on the internet. You should consider the marketing objective and budget before choosing which one to use in your marketing campaigns.

2. Live stream For Your China E-commerce

The success of Li JiaQi, as known as the China "Lipstick King" has definitely brought up the trend of e-commerce live-streaming. Interactions are of vital importance in today’s Chinese social media marketing, and that is what live-streaming is all about – bringing the real-time interaction to brands and viewers. Potential customers are able to raise imperative questions and get their answers on the spot, creating a better shopping experience for the consumers. In view of the current pandemic situation, live streaming is exclusively important in counterbalancing the loss in instore face-to-face interactions. Take example of Taobao Live: there were 719% growth in number of sellers adopting the Taobao livestreaming platform on February 2020, comparing to the month before the lockdown happened in China.

Typical live-streaming platforms include Chinese social giants like Douyin, Taobao, Xiaohongshu and more; while other rising platforms like Momo, Yizhibo and Kuaishou are also cutting the pie up. Given the fierce competition in live streaming, we suggest you team up with KOLs/ KOCs to drive more traffic to your live streams.

3. Drive Private Traffic From Chinese Audiences

Having quality interaction on social media with brands are becoming more important in consumers' eyes, and that is exactly why private traffic is the hottest trend right now. Funneling communications with the consumers via private tools allows businesses to take full control of the traffic. The most common platform is WeChat - brands would ask users to follow their official accounts and/ or to join the WeChat private group chat. Users who enter the private funnel usually established a certain level of brand loyalty upon entrance, therefore allow a higher conversion rate and cost efficiency in marketing. Marketers are also able to establish a deeper connection, provide faster customer service and gain a more comprehensive insight of the market.

By practicing private traffic, your ultimate goal is to convert your newly acquired customers into a loyal fans base, extending the customer lifetime value. A good private traffic practice includes segmenting different demographics into different groups for a better conveyed message, utilizing chatbots (artificial Intelligent robots) to answer general enquiries, and bringing content marketing into play.

Private-Traffic-on-Xiaohongshu.jpgPerfect Diary, the Chinese rising beauty brand has hundreds of private group chats on WeChat and segmented customers into different group chats. Users on the group chat would receive coupons, livestream notifications, information on new product launches, and more.

4. Seamless Consumer Journey with Chinese Platform

With users in China value the convenience a platform could provide, seamless experience is an essential element on Chinese social media platforms. A majority of Chinese social media platforms that we introduce in the first part are designed to close the consumer loop by combining the function of social media and e-commerce. An exemplary one-stop platform enables users to seek advice on purchase decision, make the purchase, receive after-sales service, share product reviews to the online community, and make repurchases on the platform.

Let us take a look at how the Perfect Diary has made good use of the all-rounded features on Xiaohongshu:

Xiaohongshu-Seamless-Experience-1.jpg
The brand constantly updates beauty tips on Xiaohongshu. It categorized its posts into different product types to make it easier for followers to catch relevant tips. The platform administrators also constantly reply its followers’ comments to further build close relationships with readers.

Xiaohongshu-Seamless-Experience-2.jpg
The beauty king in China also utilizes RED Store for a smoother conversion in sales. It occasionally posts about the latest sales promotion on the RED Store to drive traffic to the store. Consumers can also contact the customer service on the app, creating a huge convenience in customer maintenance. Perfect Diary makes good use of chatbot to reduce the manual cost in customer service and respond to customers’ queries in timely manner.

Summing up: with the ongoing pandemic situation, social media marketing is your key to penetrate the market in China. If you are panic about the overwhelming Chinese social media ecosystem, do not worry! AsiaPac has a group of professionals with sophisticated knowledge about the China market, and they are passionate in helping clients out! Click here to contact us today and get your free proposal!

About AsiaPac Net Media

With an extensive digital marketing experience of serving more than 2,500 clients across Asia in sectors such as education, travel and hospitality, finance, Government and others, AsiaPac’s expert team is highly recognized for the excellence in providing performance-driven services to businesses across Asia, and global corporates targeting Asia markets. If you’d like to learn more about AsiaPac and the work we’ve done, visit our Work page. For more information on AsiaPac/ AdTech and our services, please contact us at info@asiapac.com.hk/ info@adtechinno.com.