Best ways to enter Chinese Social Media for Businesses

Marketing to customers has gotten increasingly more internet-based, especially over the past decade. This has forced companies to change their marketing strategies to be digital-friendly, allowing access to customers in ways never thought to be imaginable. Along with the success of social media apps, consumers have infinite information at their fingertips. It is upon companies to utilize this and connect with potential customers digitally in specific markets.

Here are 10 things to keep in mind regarding digital marketing in China:

  1. Be Mobile

As of 2016, roughly 52% of all Chinese citizens owned a smartphone, which calculates to around 717 million users. It is a necessity for companies to make their advertisements mobile-friendly to reach this huge group of potential customers. In China, people use their phones for everything, from social media to mobile payments, so they always have their smartphones on them. Smartphone advertisements are a surefire way for companies to reach their customer base directly, so this is something that can not be passed up on.

  1. Have a Social Media Presence

Social Media has exploded within the past 5-10 years, making it a great platform to reach customers on. The primary social media app used in China is “Sina Weibo”, which is the equivalence of Twitter for those who are unfamiliar with it. Sina Weibo averages 340 million users, so there is an ample number of users to market products/services to.

An integral part of marketing on social media involves KOL’s, or Key Opinion Leaders. These are users who have amassed large followings on apps such as Sina Weibo, and they do paid advertising which has shown to help the companies that use this method.

See our article on Chinese KOL’s and their social media usage.

Something to keep in mind for companies using social media for marketing is that the demographic that uses social media is generally teens-young adults. Content and advertising strategies should be adapted to a younger market for higher chances of excelling using this route.

  1. WeChat is King

It is impossible to mention digital marketing in China without bringing up WeChat. WeChat is the messaging/social media app that accounts for 30% of China’s TOTAL app usage. Yes, that is correct. One app makes up roughly a third of all app usage within the country. Saying that, it’s crucial for companies to include WeChat in their digital marketing campaigns.

WeChat is a platform that stretches so far and wide that this app cannot be passed up on when it comes to marketing. WeChat allows its users to message, post “moments”, and even pay for items (which is accepted generally everywhere in China), so there are many approaches that companies can take when utilizing this app. Not one specific method has been showed to guarantee success with WeChat, but the opportunities are vast.

  1. Keep Content Attractive

This point is incredibly important for companies. Appearance is everything and no one will be engaged by a boring ad. To have a successful digital marketing campaign, a company has to get somewhat creative and come up with something that will grab the attention of desired customers.

A recent successful trend in digital marketing is the implementation of short videos (6-20 seconds). These have shown to be effective in capturing the user’s attention if the right content is conveyed in the video. Companies looking to expand their user-base should look into this route.

  1. Differentiate Your Content

This point is incredibly crucial. Companies have to do something that sets them apart from their competitors. If a company and their competitors have the same marketing strategies, customers will just pick one at random because they perceive the companies and their products to be the same. New routes must be taken to reach success.

In addition to that, it is also important for a company to get their content out on multiple platforms and sites. Creativity is key; however, it can only take a company so far if they don’t take advantage of all of the potential places to advertise.

  1. Chinese Marketing is Different than Western Marketing

A very important detail to keep in mind is for overseas/abroad companies to localize their content. Localization is the process of adapting a company’s app/advertising to another market where is appears natural. This involves everything from translating the content to changing fonts and pictures. In essence, the purpose of localization is to make the app feel as natural as possible in the hands of the new users. Companies need to make sure that their marketing strategies are aware of cultural customs/language. If their marketing seems unnatural to the people who are seeing it, chances are they will be less likely to be intrigued by the content.

See our article on Mobile App Localization.

  1. Be Aware of Regulations

A unique feature of Chinese markets is the presence of the country-wide firewall. This firewall makes accessing select sites/apps impossible, which is something that needs to be thought of for marketing on the Chinese web. Saying that, it is important that all of the advertisements/content a company chooses to send out to be appropriate and adhere to the guidelines set forth by the Chinese government.

Also, companies need to keep in mind that Google is one of those blocked sites. If a company wishes to advertise on a large search engine, Baidu would be their best bet. Baidu is considered to be the “Chinese Google”, so companies have to adapt if this is the route they’re wanting to take.

  1. Brand Naming is BIG

It is important for companies to develop a name for themselves in order to penetrate the Chinese market. Many variables go into the making of a brand name/image, and the first is coming up with a name that associates a message that a company wishes to convey. It is also important for companies to be aware of how the name translates into other languages.

Brand name translation is implemented in 4 main steps: brand image consideration, knowledge of a target audience, benchmark of brand names of existing competition, linguistic aspects of the new brand name.

Companies need to be aware of who their targeted audience is. Different names will appeal to people of different ages, so this can not be ignored. After this comes the development of a logo to go along with the name. Many different routes can be taken for the logo, but it is always important for companies to think what message they want representing their product. This can be a multitude of things, such as: premium, historical, natural, safe, etc.

  1. Investment in AI Can Pay off

Artificial intelligence is becoming a driving force in digital marketing all over the world. Companies can use it for a variety of tasks, however it has special purpose when it comes to marketing. AI can do data mining, which allows companies to know more about their customers than ever before. It does everything from allowing the company to know which of their products/services is the most popular to showing where their customers are most inclined to click first on their site. This shows companies which of their products/services to showcase and where to have it on display. AI is a surefire way for successful digital marketing.

  1. Be Customer Friendly

This should be common sense for companies, but it can get lost under all of the other work sometimes. Having great customer support/help can make all of the difference when it comes to keeping customers. People want to feel a sense of security when they are spending their money, and there is no better way for a company to give them that than to have a portion of their site dedicated to customer support. This will allow them to get in contact with the company if needed, which gives the customer added reassurance.

This is something that seems small but goes a really long way.

Author: Noah Swift

Kate CHERNAVINABest ways to enter Chinese Social Media for Businesses