Top 5 Social Marketing Channels in China

Top 5 Social Marketing Channels in China


Background of Social Marketing in China

Social marketing has become an inseparable part of marketing strategies. The average Chinese netizen spends 25 hours on the Internet every week, and nearly half of this time (47%) is spent in social networks. Actively implementing social marketing strategies gives businesses a great chance to catch the attention of a potential customer.

In China, social marketing is very different from how it looks in western countries. First of all, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and now Instagram are blocked in China mainland by the Chinese government. Great Firewall of China, as how people would call it, also covers all Google services. This creates a lot of opportunities for Chinese IT companies to create products to replace western social media with Chinese analogues. These products are more adapted to the local market and netizens.

You can find a lot of information about the various marketing channels on the internet, so let’s go through them and see which channels are actually worthy of your marketing efforts and which ones are not. Our main criteria for building this top five list includes not only the revenue and the number of users, but also the network’s level of usability for businesses. Some networks with a huge amount of followers won’t bring you as much value as some comparably smaller networks can.

Why Renren isn’t our tool of choice?

Renren is an analogue of Facebook. Users can create profiles, post videos and photos, and connect with friends. Like Facebook, Renren was designed as a social network for students and it was previously called 校内网, which literally means, “on-campus network”. Even if most marketers consider it a great social marketing channel, it’s going out of the game very soon. Over the past year, the user database has been decreasing drastically, and the number of monthly unique users decreased from 54 million to 44 million users. The company revenues ranged from US$19 million to US$21 million in the third quarter of 2014, showing a 48.9% to 53.8% year-over-year decline.

5. Douban

Douban is showing strong growth potential. The network is open to both registered and non-registered users. It segments users by interest and allows communication among people who are interested in the same things. It has over 75 million registered users as of Q4 2014. Social media marketers advertise on Douban using the interest segmentation strategy. Companies can also open their own page in order to attract users and discuss brand-related topics. Douban is the fifth on our list.

4. Youku

Youku is a Chinese online video provider. Since YouTube is blocked in China, Youku confidently leads the video industry. Youku’s videos, just like YouTube, have an ad or two placed before the video plays. To skip ads, either the individual user or the company account should purchase a membership, the prices of which vary depending on the set included in the membership. According to ChinaInternetWatch, Youku’s revenue grew 27% in 2014 and this year’s expectations are very optimistic as well. However, Youku is not ideal for growing businesses as the advertisement fee might be too expensive for small businesses. For this reason, Youku falls on the 4th place.

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2. 3. Tencent Weibo and Sina Weibo

Tencent Weibo and Sina Weibo are micro-blogging networks that are similar to Twitter. The Twitter-like system of posting, re-posting, commenting, and following gives companies a great chance to engage with their customers. Marketing departments who work closely with these networks have a chance to search for people who mentioned their company using the @ symbol and comment on their post, engaging with customers.

Sina Weibo is a product of Sina (Sina Corp., Nasdaq: SINA), and Tencent Weibo was brought to life by Tencent (SEHK: 700), a Chinese tech giant that also created WeChat. If Sina Weibo was previously leading in social media, it’s giving up its position now. Many users complain about the excessive amount of advertisement on these two channels. Both these micro-blogging networks are quite similar to each other, and we give them the 2nd and 3rd place in our Top 5 list.

1. WeChat

Yes, we write about WeChat again, but WeChat being our favorite tool is not the reason it topped our list. There are many factors why WeChat is our top one: the number of active users, which is over 600 million, WeChat company accounts, WeChat stores (Wedian, 微店), WeChat payment, one-on-one chats, Moments news feed – all in one network.

It is extremely popular among WeChat users: There’s almost no advertising at this moment, which makes users feel more comfortable, too. Brands can’t engage followers in the conversation unless subscribers want to interact with the companies’ accounts. This makes the network constantly grow, and amount of users is only increasing every year.

For businesses choosing WeChat the main reason is that establishing a company account and starting your social marketing on WeChat don’t really need a huge budget. Plus, WeChat also lets developers work on it, which makes the entire network and it’s opportunities for businesses to develop faster and in many directions at the same time.

Therefore, we confidently give to WeChat the first place for present and nearest future social marketing. What do you think?