In today’s world of oversaturated digital ads, brand e-reputation has never been more important. This is especially the case in China, where word-of-mouth and KOL marketing are widely regarded as the most trustworthy.
How to Build E-Reputation in China
1. KOL Campaign
Worldwide, influencer marketing has become the dominant marketing paradigm. In China, influencers are known as KOLs or key opinion leaders. For building brand reputation and awareness in China, KOL campaigns will provide a strong return on investment.
A strong KOL campaign consists of working with reputable and respected KOLs to translate your brand messaging in a way that localizes for your customer base in China.
KOLs play a key role in online reputation management for your brand. Picking the most suitable KOL for your brand requires being in tune with your target audience. By working with trusted KOLs within their community, your brand will acquire the cultural cachet for gaining traction in China.
As brand reputation requires time build, brands should view KOL marketing as a long-term, dynamic strategy.
2. KOC Campaign
KOC (Key Opinion Customer) marketing is an incredibly effective tool for building brand interest and driving sales in China.
Although most KOCs don’t have a large fan base, they are the key for consumers when making a buying decision. They are generally seen as more trustworthy due to their authentic and reliable content. If your brand is at seeding stage in the Chinese market, collaborating with KOCs would be a safe option.
Check out this guide to learn about the most efficient ways to promote your brand through a KOC-based strategy!
To complement your social media campaign, getting your brand into press releases will help grow your business’s e-reputation in China. With third-party outlets reporting on your brand, you not only gain increased reach but also increased credibility.
In China, like elsewhere, people rely on various e-magazines and press outlets to help them with their purchasing decisions. These range from childcare advice columns to technology review platforms to fashion magazine editorials. As these outlets represent a third-party assessment of your brand, consumers are more likely to see them as trustworthy and credible.
These outlets play an important role in online reputation management. Having your brand name mentioned in press releases will help with building long-term consumer trust and awareness in your brand. The most popular sources for doing PR in China are: 参考消息, 环球时报, 新华社, 中国日报.
4. Local SEO
When potential customers want to know more about your brand, they will check your website for sure. Most searches online are done on Baidu, but there are other local search engines such as Sogou, Youdao, and 360.
A helpful resource for keyword research is Dragonmetrics. By analyzing monthly search volumes for various keywords and phrases, you can build a solid foundation for the next step of building your e-reputation campaign in China – content.
5. Social Media
Much like any other market in the world, having a strong social media presence in China is key to building your business’s reputation online.
Today, the social media landscape in China is relatively fragmented, with many platforms specialized for specific interests and demographics. This means that overseas brands need to understand which platform is most suitable for reaching their desired target audiences.
For example, Xiaohongshu is a rapidly growing social recommendation platform in China. While a massive platform, 90% of its userbase is female, making it most suitable for beauty, healthcare, and fashion brands.
On the other hand, livestream platforms Bilibili and Huya have massive gaming communities, making these platforms most suitable for tech and digital brands, while Dianping, a review platform, has become the go-to platform for Chinese brick-and-mortar stores.
With so many specialized social media platforms in China, it’s easy for brands to spread themselves too thin. Focus on the platforms most suitable for your brand and work to establish a strong online reputation on those.
Steps to Build Social Media Campaign in China
Step 1. Identify Your Platforms
As mentioned previously, choosing the right platforms to market on is of utmost importance. Due to the differences in algorithms and demographics on each platform, you will need to adjust campaign content and strategy around the platforms you choose.
The most popular platforms for building brand visibility in China are Sina’s Weibo, Zhihu, Baidu’s Baijiahao, Ifeng, Sohu, Tencent’s WeChat, andToutiao. For reaching younger audiences, visual-heavy platforms such as Douyin, Xiaohongshu, Bilibili, Huya, and Kuaishou are also very popular.
Step 2. Keyword Research
Social media might not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about keyword research – but it can be an awesome source for marketers to understand what their consumer base in China wants to see online.
Step 3. Content
As overused as the phrase is, content really is king. Based on your research into keywords and platforms, you’re now able to perfectly craft content and build your online reputation.
In China’s highly visual social media landscape, strong content combines powerful visual elements, either pictures or videos, with enticing written content. It is important to ensure both the format and message of your content is tailored towards where you market and who you market to.
Step 4. Build Publication Plan
Depending on your resources, such as graphic designers and copywriters, schedule content in advance to be published at least once a week. Curate content schedules to ensure a diverse and balanced flow of content.
While much of your content will be perennially relevant, for some content, timing can be just as important as what you say. Plan your publication schedule around major brand events to build anticipation and relevant Chinese holidays to localize your brand.
Conversely, it’s also important to keep publication plans flexible, allowing you to react to current events to catch audience attention.
Step 5. Post Content Regularly
Now that you’ve started your social media campaign, keep in mind the fundamentals – online reputation relies on consistency. With a regular schedule, you will remain relevant to platform algorithms and stay on your audiences’ radar. Remember that your competitors are on the same platforms, producing their own tailored content to attract the same target demographics.
Difficulties When Building E-Reputation in China
The process of localizing your brand messaging for any region plays a huge role in how successfully you are able to build your brand reputation. Being able to navigate the cultural differences between your home market and the China market can make or break business expansion goals.
Beyond textual translation, localization for the Chinese market means reworking your brand messaging to meet the aspirations of Chinese consumers. In the fast-paced environment of China, cultural trends move quickly. From specific wording changes to major overhauls in visual branding, content localization can be a large undertaking.
Hiring a professional brand localization agency based in China will help your brand smoothly transition into this new market, letting you focus on building your business.
China’s digital ecosystem may seem daunting to the uninitiated. With a myriad of choices, there are many nuances and pitfalls to watch out for when it comes to choosing the right platforms.
With China’s major online platforms attracting different segments of China’s diverse population, building your brand’s online reputation on these platforms requires a deep understanding their various demographics. Don’t make the mistake of seeing the China market as homogenous. To be successful you must localize for China’s diverse online communities.
Navigating these Chinese platforms for an overseas brand can challenging. That’s why agencies like HI-COM are here to help overseas businesses establish brand presence online the right way in China.
KOL Campaign Execution
Even without the language barrier, finding the right KOLs and managing them is challenging. While KOL marketing may be the most used marketing tactic in China today, successfully executing a KOL campaign requires experience and a strong understanding of the Chinese market.
Accurately gauging the actual reach and engagement of a KOL across platforms can be difficult. While managing KOLs, some details may be lost during communication, resulting in promotion campaigns that don’t reflect your vision.
We recommend working with a professional KOL agency. This way you are able to have peace of mind in the legitimacy and efficacy of their KOLs. A KOL agency has strong working relationships with their rosters, taking out the guesswork in conveying brand vision.
HI-COM is a multilingual communication agency dedicated to providing China-specific social media communication and e-commerce marketing services to businesses around the world. Working with more than 100 brands, HI-COM is the go-to partner of companies that want to enter China market! Contact us for your free consultation today!