As with all marketing, social media trends can change drastically from year to year and this is especially true when it comes to social media platforms in China. As social platforms continue to develop their own niche, brands need to stay up-to-date on the latest platforms to market their business. Whether you are an experienced marketer or a marketer looking to venture into Chinese social media marketing, it’s helpful to know the most popular social media platforms around.
While WeChat might have all the answers for one brand, it might not be as successful for another – and while one brand might have tons of engagement on Baidu Tieba, another brand might gain more traction on TikTok. You should have an understanding of each social media platform for brand exposure, each platform’s unique purposes and which platform your target audience uses. That’s why we’re diving right into the most popular platforms that China has to offer in 2019.
The Big 5 Top Chinese Social Media Platforms
WeChat is a must-have social media platform that Chinese consumers use to follow and interact with their favorite brands. With over 1 billion users, WeChat is a one-stop portal where users can access a countless number of third-party services such as paying bills, sending money to friends, buying movie tickets or even ordering dry cleaning. In 2017, Tencent added WeChat mini programs to their applications, which enabled WeChat to become more of an operating system. Mini programs also cover a wide range of services with over 200 categories. WeChat has evolved into the social media platform that lets you do anything you want in China.
How does marketing on WeChat benefit your brand?
WeChat marketing is a great way for brand exposure and setting up a WeChat official account will allow your brand to reach a large audience in an efficient way. Official accounts can be compared to Facebook pages in the sense that anyone can follow them to receive direct updates or promotions. You can utilize the WeChat store add-on and integrate it with your official account to display your products or services and process payments. You can also take advantage of WeChat CRM to enhance your audience targeting for location based marketing, social search optimization and sending out the right content at the right time.
Sina Weibo is another essential social media platform with its user base nearing 500 million users. Weibo is a microblogging platform used to gain information and discover interesting stories relating to the latest trends or entertainment. In comparison to WeChat, Weibo has a lot more hands-on channels, including posting comments, music, live streaming and e-commerce. This platform has seen substantial growth with its multimedia content consumption and popularity of short videos.
How does marketing on Weibo benefit your brand?
Weibo is a very open public platform that is great for new brands looking to increase awareness and gain followers. To start marketing on Weibo, you need to register and verify an official account for your brand. Once your account is set up, Weibo offers a vast range of opportunities to engage with potential customers. Weibo has a young user base making it a huge growth potential to connect with Gen Z and millennials. It also attracts a large following of outbound Chinese travelers, which can be great for brands looking for a niche audience.
TikTok, locally known as Douyin, is a short video and music app that was launched in 2016. Since then, the social media platform has accumulated 500 million active users globally. TikTok allows users to add music and effects to their videos with very powerful editing tools. This platform has the opportunity of becoming a truly global leader in the short video market and is one of the first Chinese apps to successfully gain worldwide attention.
How does marketing on TikTok benefit your brand?
TikTok is the go-to niche social media platform for brands to reach young Chinese users with pure entertainment. Video content on this app is not only engaging, but it also brings a feeling of authenticity to the user. This type of content form is meant to be very creative and innovative for connecting to its user base of mostly 18-35 year olds, which can be difficult for brands to get a handle on. You may need some practice with getting familiar with creating appealing short videos, but it’s definitely worth the time to attract these young users who have a high amount of purchasing power.
Toutiao is a news app of content distribution, creation and aggregation that uses complex machine learning technology. It is sometimes called the recommendation engine due to how it offers personalized information based off of users interests. Toutiao has over 4,000 partners producing content on a daily basis delivering tailored news feed. The platform analyzes each user based on their browser and click history, and then recommends the best articles and videos available.
How does marketing on Toutiao benefit your brand?
Toutiao is steadily gaining more traction as a top social media platform and should be included in any brands marketing strategy when it comes to advertising. This platform has also captured the attention of young users with eye-catching content and short video add-ons. With users spending an average of 76 minutes on the app, brands can place advertisements on the platform to have a huge impact on viewership. Brands can also open publisher accounts called Toutiaohao to develop an even stronger presence.
Little Red Book
Little Red Book (RED), locally known as Xiaohongshu, is an app targeted at 18-35 year old women to share shopping tips and product reviews. In 2014, the platform launched its own cross border e-commerce platform called the RED store in response to the high demand of foreign luxury goods. This app allows Chinese consumers to purchase products from overseas directly from the app. RED has many partnerships with international brands, which makes it much easier for customers to receive authentic experiences.
How does marketing on RED benefit your brand?
With a demographic of over 80% female, RED is a very effective social media platform for selling cosmetics and fashion products. What gives RED the edge over other e-commerce platforms is the high engagement in its user community. The app focuses on quality and diversity, making it easier for brands to build trust and credibility when advertising on RED. Given the conversion rate and power of word of mouth marketing in China, RED is worth the time to market your brand especially to Chinese women.
Alternative Top Chinese Social Media Platforms You Should Know
QQ was one of China’s first popular social media platforms and was also released under the umbrella of Tencent. It’s an instant messaging app that allows users to play online games, share time limited videos, receive emails and large files, shop and join online groups. Today, QQ has over 850 million monthly users and has a desktop version that is also very popular.
How does marketing on QQ benefit your brand?
QQ can be an important social media platform for advertising with its extremely large user base. The majority of users are young and unsophisticated. They are more likely to be based in Tier 2 or Tier 3 cities. Brands can open up an organizational account, which is called QZone. Or even use paid marketing programs to connect with users. QQ can also create content for you and place your ads in games, pop-up windows or banners.
Baidu Tieba is an online community search forum that is often overshadowed by Weibo and Zhihu. It still claims to have the largest online community with over 1.5 billion total registered users. This social media platform is backed by Baidu, which allows it to rank incredibly well on search engines. It also takes advantage of keyword search to segment its user’s interests down to a science.
How does marketing on Baidu Tieba benefit your brand?
The features that Baidu Tieba has to offer make it a very unique platform for marketing your business. It is very content oriented and highly interactive. Due to this level of interaction, you don’t need KOLs to gain brand exposure. All you have to do is post content that is interesting enough to get users to engage and it’s also great for niche group marketing. It’s highly effective in organic search results, so brands don’t have to rely on paid advertisement.
Dianping was one of the first websites to provide independent customer reviews in the world and is considered the Chinese version of Yelp. It is one of China’s leading 020 platforms for lifestyle services and users utilize this app to mostly find quality reviews on restaurants. It also offers restaurant reservations, group buying, delivery and other O2O services such as, discounts on entertainment, movies, fitness and beauty.
How does marketing on Dianping benefit your brand?
The core focus of this platform is placed on food and restaurants with a targeted age group of 25-35 year olds in major cities around China. Brands can take full advantage of the location based advertising to promote to nearby customers. Dianping is taking note of other well-known social media platforms and is steadily evolving. The company is playing around with the idea of adding short videos to keep users engaged even longer.
Tencent Video has overtaken the online video marketing scene with over 500 million monthly users. It provides users with video content that combines entertainment, sporting events, news and information, and livestreaming. Tencent Video is required to embed videos into WeChat articles, which is a large reason for its success along with the high-definition and video entertainment experience.
How does marketing on Tencent Video benefit your brand?
With Tencent Video being the leader in video marketing, this platform should be a must for brands that want to build their brand using advertisements. Video and livestreaming content has been a very hot trend in China over the last few years, so using this platform can unlock a lot of purchasing power from the younger generation.
Maimai is a niche platform that is often referred to as the Chinese version of LinkedIn. Launched in 2013, Maimai is a China-based social networking and career building platform. A lot of its features are tailored for local talent, which has given it the upper hand on LinkedIn. Users can also use forums to discuss about job ideas and their career path.
How does marketing on Maimai benefit your brand?
This platform is catered specifically for job seekers and professionals, making it a huge market potential. It has nearly 30 million users for brands to find top employees and the opportunity to promote their business. Maimai is still developing and still has a lot of potential when it comes to social media marketing. It is also a great gateway for brands that are looking to sell services.
Zhihu is often referred to as the Chinese Quora and is the social media platform where Chinese consumers search for expert advice on a wide range of topics. It has accumulated over 26 million daily active users who mostly have undergraduate or higher level education. Users can even tip authors for specific essays that they like.
How does marketing on Zhihu benefit your brand?
Similar to Baidu Tieba, Zhihu also has a high authority when it comes to search ranking results. Zhihu users are typically better educated with higher incomes and purchasing power. Since many of these users are searching for practical and reliable information, Zhihu is more suited for brands that can offer professional knowledge or information in a specific filed such as tech industries or B2B businesses. Brands can also take advantage of answering specific user questions and collaborate with the top contributors on Zhihu to get the most exposure.
Meitu has picked up a lot of steam in China over the past few years with the popularity of its beauty photo editing features. This social media platform has 455 million monthly active users with 81% of them being female. Users are able to upload pictures and edit them to look more aesthetically appealing.
How does marketing on Meitu benefit your brand?
With most of the users on this platform being female, Meitu is great for brands that want to market personal care and beauty products. Meitu is still in the very early stages, but is off to a good start with its user engagement. Meitu is also starting to focus more on community building and will eventually start building interactive connections among its user base. Meitu can be a great choice if you are looking to engage with women or just getting started with marketing in China.
These are some of the top social media platforms that China has to offer in 2019. There are many other social media platforms outside the ones mentioned in this article, so we recommend doing some research and picking the platforms that make the most sense for your marketing strategy. Some brands may choose to make use of multiple platforms, but it’s important to not spread yourself too thin. The best approach is to carefully select the social media platforms that will cater to your audience best.