China’s social media ecosystem is super-vibrant with new trends emerging every year (or several times in a single year). From the rise of short-video and live-streaming platforms such as Douyin and Kuaishou to the creation of new features such as WeChat Video Channels, your company will need to keep up to date with the latest market changes and demands to adopt the best marketing strategy and achieve the best possible ROI and ROAS in China.
In this article, we’ll look at the most influential social media platforms and explore the marketing opportunities on these sites for your brand in 2021.
- China has more than 931 million active social media users in 2021.
- Shopping-related live streaming continues to gain popularity.
- Chinese social media platforms are attracting niche
- Some platforms are incorporating targeted content strategies to improve user experience.
WeChat rules the social media world in China and continues to be an essential platform for any localized marketing campaign. With around 38 billion messages exchanged every day, 68 million daily uploaded videos and the average user spending is roughly 66 minutes per day on the app, WeChat is an integral part of the day-to-day life in China.
Number of monthly active WeChat users from 2nd quarter 2011 to 1st quarter 2021
WeChat has evolved into a super-app since its creation as a simple instant messenger in 2011. Now, users are able to make online and offline electronic payments, join WeChat Official Accounts, upload content to their WeChat feed, watch live-streams, play games, and explore brand content and services with WeChat Mini-Programs. All of these features provide exciting marketing opportunities for brands on WeChat.
How does marketing on WeChat benefit your brand?
- Official Accounts (OA)
Users can follow OAs on WeChat to receive brand related content, promotions, and updates. They have the ability to develop a stronger Brand/Consumer connection.
- Targeted Content with WeChat CRM
A WeChat CRM can optimise your WeChat marketing campaign by capturing user data and using it to streamline targeted content that users will find useful. Engaging articles and posts are more likely to be shared and clicked on, leading to a heightened brand awareness and a better quality lead generation.
You can find out more about WeChat CRM by reading this article.
- WeChat Advertising
Brands have the option of running moment ads, which can be found on WeChat moments, or banner ads which are displayed at the bottom of an article on a WeChat OA.
- WeChat Channels
WeChat (Video) Channels launched in 2020 and are WeChat’s answer to the rising trend in the market demand for short-video platforms. WeChat Channels can include a link to your WeChat OA, meaning you can further promote brand awareness. This is also a kind of a revolution as it continue to bring in answers to how can WeChat ecosystem be more open: Users can have the freedom to check suggestions and are able to see which content their network likes and subscribes to.
Short-video platforms are the newest online trend in creative content innovation, with Douyin being the number one app of this kind in China. It has around 600 million daily users and the average user spends 45 minutes per day watching, sharing, and creating videos on the site.
Number of daily active users of Douyin (TikTok) in China from January 2019 to August 2020
Run by ByteDance, Douyin appeals to a much younger demographic between the ages of 18–35. This is why marketing on Douyin requires a certain style that is unique to the platform.
How does marketing on Douyin benefit your brand?
- Content Marketing
Brands can engage users with content marketing on Douyin. However, to fit in with the platform’s style, brands will need to adapt their marketing approach so that it resonates with China’s millennial and Gen Z audiences.
Some brands like Airbnb and Chevrolet have collaborated with Douyin influencers to share their brand in a way that is consistent with the platform’s personality.
- Hashtag Challenges
Brands have a big opportunity to interact with their audience through Douyin hashtag challenges. These challenges can generate billions of views, improve brand awareness, and create a meaningful connection between users and brands.
- Shoppable Livestreams
Livestreams are one of the rising trends in social commerce. Users are able to interact with the live streamer (usually a KOL) by asking questions and directly purchasing products that are advertised in the livestream.
Weibo is another social media (Micro blogging) platform in China where users can post, share content, and find information on the latest trends and news. It is extremely popular in China with 523 million active users and 224 million daily active users as of 2020.
A unique element of Weibo is its openness for user content interaction, which is deeply integrated within the platform. At the heart of the app, you can find many hands-on channels and live streaming events.
How does marketing on Weibo benefit your brand?
- Trending Content
Similar to WeChat, brands can open an account and post engaging content for users to read, share and like. When Weibo posts receive enough impressions and interaction, they will be pushed higher up the news feed and can go viral(trending).
In fitting with the rise of live-stream popularity in China, Weibo has created their own live-stream platform called Yizhibo live. This is another Livestreaming opportunity for brands to connect with Weibo influencers to promote their services and products.
- Opportunities for E-Commerce
On Weibo, brands can link their content to their Taobao stores and users can bind their Alipay accounts to their Weibo accounts, making transactions on the site fast and accessible with just one click.
QQ which launched way back in 1999, is a multifunctional app which allows you to message individuals and groups, create e-mail accounts, stream music, interact with posts on your newsfeed and share short animations and videos. Despite living in WeChat’s shadow since 2011, QQ now relates to a more specific demographic with still 660 million monthly active users.
How does marketing on QQ benefit your brand?
- 60% of QQ users are under 30 and come from Tier 2 or Tier 3 cities. Brands can use QQ to develop rich connections with this younger and upcoming generation who have stronger purchasing power and time to spend surfing the internet.
- Users who have similar interests can connect in QQ group chats. This provides an excellent opportunity for brands to run targeted ad campaigns.
- It is also easy to make transactions on QQ with QQ shopping which allows users to make purchases through JD.com.
What makes Youku so special is that it is a successful platform for long-form videos. Often recognised as the Chinese Youtube, Youku shows that there is still a huge demand for the long-form video style with 500 million monthly active users and 1.18 billion video views daily.
These videos are often watched when users want to find more in-depth information about a trending topic, subject, or piece of news.
How does marketing on Youku benefit your brand?
- Video Advertising
On Youku, brands can create ads that appear before or after videos as well as banner ads. Youku will target ads to users based on the videos they enjoy watching and this will generate better quality leads.
- Brand Awareness
Youku can drive traffic to your website and build brand exposure with video advertising. Chinese netizens who before couldn’t find your website will now have a direct link to it.
- Brand Reputation
Youku has a great reputation with Chinese netizens and is regarded as one of the best online video and streaming platforms in the country. Visibility on this site will give your brand the quality assurance that comes with the high-profile of Youku.
Baidu Tieba is a forum style platform that allows users to enter queries, create topics of mutual interest and interact with impressions and comments. Tieba hosts an online community of 1.5 billion registered users, which is more than both Zhihu and Toutiao.
Users can find relevant forums by submitting their queries in the search bar. If there isn’t an already existing one, then Tieba will automatically create a new forum.
How does marketing on Baidu Tieba benefit your brand?
Baidu Tieba is highly effective in generating organic traffic to your site and providing visibility for your brand. It is important to note that Tieba restricts the use of any ads, so you will need to post as much information as possible and avoid too many links.
Baidu Tieba’s greatest strength is in its ability to create deep knitted communities that will continue to support your brand. These niche groups will increase CLV as followers will be dedicated to your brand through their meaningful connection to the forum and group.
Toutiao is an online mobile platform where netizens can find daily news and headline updates. Toutiao has 260 million daily active users, and the average users spends around 76 minutes on the site per day.
The platform also features the integration of machine learning and artificial intelligence, which captures data and sends targeted content to users. The more people interact with the site, the better the AI can match articles and information based on their preferences.
How does marketing on Toutiao benefit your brand?
- Quality lead generation
Toutiao’s intelligent news feed means users will receive not just targeted content but also targeted ads. This will increase the likelihood of people clicking on the advertorial, it will generate superior leads, and improve the ROI on your ads.
- Toutiao Q&A
Similar to Baidu Tieba, users can browse and create forums based around particular subjects and queries. The added bonus of the Toutiao Q&A channel is that the platform’s AI will capture user data from their answers and questions to send ultra-targeted content towards their news feed.
- Toutiao SEO
Brands can also do content marketing on Toutiao by creating an account on the site. The platform offers an excellent SEO push strategy as Toutiao primarily focuses on content promotion. By using HTML 5 or through lead generation, the cost per impression (CPI) reaches 20-25 RMB.
Little Red Book (RED)
RED Users as of 2020:
- +80% are Female
- 56% from Tier 1 and Tier 2 Cities
- 72% are Millennials
Also known as Xiaohongshu (小红书), Little Red Book is a cross-border e-commerce shopping app that focuses on cosmetic, luxury, and beauty products with a high female demographic.
RED is also a hub for UGC (user-generated content) where users can discuss and share beauty and fashion product related content, with over 100,000 pieces of new content added each day.
How does marketing on Little Red Book benefit your brand?
- Highly interactive and converting consumers
RED’s community is full of trendy users who enjoy exploring and reviewing products on the app. These people are well trusted by the RED community who are looking for the latest in beauty and fashion.
Most users don’t just want to talk about fashion but are also willing to purchase based on recommendations. RED consumers have a high conversion rate as 8% of users make a purchase after reading reviews compared to 2.6% on Tmall.
- Trust and Credibility
Thanks to RED’s engaging features, users are more inclined to trust products and brands that are recommended to them by their community.
- Direct link to e-commerce store
RED allows consumers to make direct purchases from merchants on the platform, effectively closing the loop on the content cycle.
Brands are also able to create their own digital shops within the app. RED provides these brands with logistical support, customer services, data insights and in-app advertisements.
Run by Tencent, Meituan Dianping has merged the food delivery app Meituan with the former review app Dianping (2013).
This means that Meituan Dianping still offers the best O2O experience, where users can choose from a range of services such as movie tickets, restaurants, hotel bookings etc. But now, with the added features of Meituan, brands can use their database to run ads and select Meituan services such as SEO, brand promotion and website ads.
How does marketing on Meituan Dianping benefit your brand?
- A One-stop Shop
Meituan Dianping’s variety of easily accessible services is what makes it one of the best review apps for restaurants and entertainment in the country. This omnichannel experience can conveniently lead users from one service to another, which encourages them to make purchases through just one app instead of many.
- Location based advertising
On Meituan Dianping, users can regionalise their searches, set their preferences and interests to receive more specific search results. The platform can then link users to content that is useful to them. Brands can take advantage of the platform’s location targeting to increase engagement and improve ROI.
Tencent Video has risen quickly to the top of the online video marketing scene with over 500 million users and 106 million paid subscribers.
Market share of online movie and video streaming platforms in China in 2019
Tencent has changed their business model in recent years from international content to more original Chinese-centric content in the form of reality TV shows, anime, comics, games, livestreaming and news.
How does marketing on Tencent Video benefit your brand?
- Content Commerce
Viewers don’t want to be taken away from their entertainment by intrusive advertisements or inappropriate product placing. Brands need to find the correct voice and way to include their products within the platform that adds to the overall experience of the user.
- KOLs and Influencers
Using a Tencent Video KOL can provide great exposure for your brand as influencers can highlight your product or services during their livestreams. These livestreams can take place not just on the influencers channel, but they can also be streamed on the brand’s channel as part of a celebrity “take-over”.
Zhihu as of 2020:
- 220 million registered accounts
- 34 million daily active users
- 130 million answers shared
Zhihu is often referred to as the Chinese Quora and is a great site for brands to manage and improve their online non-official reputation. The forum-based platform rates answers based on their interaction and upvotes. For this reason, Zhihu answers hold a lot of credibility and trustworthiness from users.
How does marketing on Zhihu benefit your brand?
- Zhihu SEO
Zhihu has a strong authority on search engines such as Baidu and Sogou. When submitting a keyword on Baidu, there is a high likelihood of seeing a Zhihu article that is linked to the keyword on the first SERP. This can be a great benefit for building brand visibility.
- Manage E-reputation
Brands can create awareness and bolster reputation by creating articles on Zhihu which review, rate, and give information about products and services. It is important to also respond to feedback and reply to user questions to develop the relationship between brand and consumer.
- Branding Longevity
Zhihu articles that receive a high number of impressions and constant interaction will stand the test of time. This is why brands that post good content on Zhihu have a high chance of improving their ROI.
Meitu is a free photo-editing app for IOS and Android. It combines facial recognition with augmented reality to give your actual face a virtual look. The platform has 455 million monthly active 81% of users being female.
The platform has also added a short-video feed where users can create videos that integrate the beauty editing software installed on Meitu.
How does marketing on Meitu benefit your brand?
- Niche Targeted Audience
Meitu hosts a high majority of female users who are interested in beauty and fashion. Users are brought together with the opportunity for UGC, as users can upload their pictures and videos and send likes and comments on their content feed.
Brands that want to target content towards consumers with interests in these areas can take advantage of Meitu’s specific user appeal.
- Product promotions and Reviews
Meitu also has a section where users can rate beauty products and apply for promotional discounts. Brands can find great exposure and visibility by having their products displayed here, or by receiving a great review from a KOC.
- 90% of users are under 25
- Huge revenue growth with a +58% YOY growth rate
- 3 million monthly active users
- 5 million paying users
Bilibili is an online media entertainment platform for live streaming, video hosting and mobile gaming. Users on the platform can watch and find out about a wide variety of topics such as drama, technology, fashion, and movies. Brands can also advertise on Bilibili and take advantage of their e-commerce platform.
How does marketing on Bilibili benefit your brand?
- Connecting with a younger audience
The majority of users are from the Gen Zee generation with the average age of a user being 19.8 years old. Bilibili is a great platform for brands that want to connect with this younger audience.
The unique part of live streaming on Bilibili are the user engagement levels. A key component of Bilibili is 弹幕 danmu (meaning bullet comments) as the community of Bilibili love to react to videos in real time. This means livestreams regularly receive a tidal wave of interaction.
Brands that unlock the opportunities of livestreaming with their own account or with the help of a KOL can accumulate excellent brand visibility.
- BiliBili e-commerce platform
Bilibili reported in their Q1 2021 that their revenues from e-commerce increased 230% since 2020. This change was primarily due to the increase of sales through their e-commerce mini programs.
Users can be directed to mini programs through links on an uploader’s posts or by scanning through the app. These mini programs are a great way for brands to provide their products to users in a way that is convenient and seamless.
Kuaishou is one of the most popular live streaming platforms in China and is second only to Douyin. In 2019 the figure for daily active users on Kuaishou exceeded 200 million.
The majority of Kuaishou users are a mix of young people from tier 2, tier 3 cities and also from rural areas of China. Influencers on the platform tend to be “ordinary” people from humble upbringings instead of high-profile celebrities.
How does marketing on Kuaishou benefit your brand?
- E-commerce Opportunities
Through Kuaishou users have access to multiple third-party online retailers such as Taobao, Pinduoduo and JD.com. It is also possible to make direct purchases of JD.com products on the Kuaishou app. The fusion between these two platforms has streamlined the connection between brand visibility and consumer purchasing.
- High Engagement Rate
Kuaishou prioritises content from accounts that users already follow over content that has received thousands of impressions. Kuaishou’s algorithm builds strong connections between users and has led to a high engagement rate.
Sekkei Studio is a Digital Marketing Agency for China that is around since 2008. If you are willing to know which platform(s) makes sense for your brand/company in China, let’s us know and we’ll be happy to help pave the way for your China Social presence or take what has been done already to the next level. Reach out to us!