The immense scale of the Chinese market presents a compelling opportunity for marketers seeking to tap into the vast user base of Chinese social media. With billions of users actively engaging on different social media platforms, this market is fertile ground for businesses seeking successful penetration into China’s digital ecosystem.
Understanding Chinese Social Media Landscape
However, leveraging Chinese social media for success requires an understanding of each platform’s unique advantages and potential challenges. The Chinese digital landscape is distinct, having barred access to popular Western platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and many more. Consequently, digital marketing strategies need to be tailored to each Chinese online community, underscoring the critical importance of success on Chinese social media for:
- Launching and establishing your business in China
- Sustaining high growth rates
- Engaging with a dedicated follower base, and
- Acquiring new customers.
This guide provides a comprehensive walkthrough of the most popular Chinese social media platforms and their specific features.
Current Trends in Chinese Social Media Influence
Certain Chinese social media platforms enable ordinary users to rise as influencers. These individuals leverage their ‘social-media’ (自媒体) to reach broad audiences. As a result, these influencers often play pivotal roles in the most successful advertising campaigns in China, effectively reaching demographics across all ages and income brackets. We will delve into the platforms best suited for employing this strategy.
Social Media and E-commerce: A Fusion Trend
A notable trend in Chinese social media is the fusion of social media with e-commerce. Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) have effectively used social media platforms to engage with their audiences. Marketers have harnessed this influence to promote their products or services. Crucially, it has become easier for consumers to make purchases directly from the social media app, eliminating the need for external links and streamlining the purchase process. This guide will illustrate how Chinese social media platforms have swiftly integrated e-commerce into their functionality, resulting in immediate returns for some businesses following a social media post.
Understanding Influencers and KOLs
In the context of Chinese social media, KOLs hold more sway in their niche than influencers, often enjoying near-celebrity status. This is because KOLs specialize in a specific industry and are recognized as subject matter experts. In contrast, influencers are more focused on expanding their follower base within their chosen social media platform. One of the fastest ways to grow your business in the digital market is by featuring in a KOL’s post. However, this can also be costly. Hence, we will provide a breakdown of investing in a KOL, selecting the appropriate social media channel, and considering the potential benefits of building your own KOL.
The Post-Covid-19 Chinese Economy and Digital Media Trends
The Chinese economy is rebounding in the post-Covid-19 era, with a surge in digital media trends offering new strategies to offset losses incurred during the lockdown. GAB China, a premier social media marketing agency in China, has ranked the top social media platforms for 2023. This comprehensive guide is your initial step towards choosing the right social media platform to meet your specific needs. We will illustrate how to effectively brand yourself on each platform.
Top Chinese Social Media Platforms of 2023
- WeChat — The Chinese Social Media Power
- Douyin – Rising Chinese Social Media Star
- RED — Quality Chinese Social Media
- Weibo — Community Chinese Social Media
1. WeChat: The Ultimate Super-App in Chinese Social Media
In the realm of Chinese social media, WeChat stands as the ultimate super-app. Often referred to as the “Facebook of China” WeChat offers much more than your average social media platform. It aptly combines the functionalities of numerous apps like Facebook, Tinder, News, Pinterest, Arcade, Uber, and DoorDash, all within a single platform.
A Glimpse into WeChat’s Multifaceted Features
WeChat is designed as a comprehensive Super App, providing a wide array of features that include:
- Communication with friends and family
- Money transfers
- Bill payments
- Local meetups
- News and magazine reading
- And much more
With an intuitive QR code system, WeChat simplifies transactions, friend requests, and information sharing, making it an indispensable app for users.
WeChat for Business
Apart from personal features, WeChat, a leading platform in Chinese social media, offers a variety of functionalities that businesses can leverage.. These include:
- Subscription Accounts
- Service Accounts
- Mini Programs
- WeChat Stores
- And many other service options Gab wrote an article about how to write high-performing WeChat articles, click here
As of 2023, WeChat boasts over 2 billion users worldwide, with more than 1 billion active users in China each month. Let’s delve into how each of these features can enhance your business presence on Chinese social media.
Leveraging Subscription Accounts
Subscription accounts enable organizations to send concise messages and articles similar to newspaper and magazine content. These accounts offer customized features that cater to your needs, such as direct access to a WeChat Store, coupons, loyalty programs, and more. All followed businesses appear in a list of folders, and your messages go directly into this folder.
Utilizing Service Accounts
Service accounts allow registered companies to reach users more directly compared to subscription accounts. Updates appear like friend messages, ensuring they’re not buried in the folders file. Messages take priority, immediately capturing users’ attention. Service accounts also come with customized features.
Exploring Mini Programs
Mini programs are apps that function within the WeChat app itself. With over 200 million mini programs available, WeChat users can perform various tasks like e-commerce, gaming, productivity, and reading without ever leaving the WeChat app.
Setting Up a WeChat Store
Given the average user spends a significant amount of time on WeChat, establishing a virtual store can greatly expand your e-commerce reach. It is recommended to design your WeChat Store to work cohesively with both your Subscription and Service Accounts.
Engaging Users with Stickers
Stickers are a fun way for WeChat users to express themselves without words. Your company can create stickers using its mascot or slogan, maintaining brand relevance on a smaller, but more regular basis.
Expanding Reach with WeChat Channels
WeChat Channels is a new feature that allows users, KOLs, and brands to create and post short-form content, similar to popular short-video platforms like Douyin (TikTok) and Kuaishou. This is a great way for brands to interact less formally, but more frequently with their users.
Launched in 2013, WeChat had 1.225 billion monthly active users by Q4, 2020. As of January 2021, it had a total of 1.213 billion active users. With users aged 16-64, the demographics in 2020 were 54.6% male and 45.4% female. On average, users spent 29.2 hours per month on the app in 2020.
How WeChat Can Help You:
WeChat Moments Advertising
Similar to the Facebook timeline or Twitter feed, WeChat utilizes a Moments feed. This feature allows businesses to create a Moments post as an ad, reaching a wide demographic of WeChat users.
WeChat Official Accounts Advertising
Official accounts on WeChat can host ads within articles, which could be text, images, or videos. These ads can promote any event or online/offline store and redirect users to promotions, product information, or other links.
WeChat Mini Program Advertising
WeChat Mini Programs use banner and pop-up ads. These can be video, audio, or either horizontal or vertical format.
To learn more about the intricacies of advertising on WeChat, check out our in-depth article here.
Embracing the potential of WeChat, and Chinese social media as a whole, is a strategic step for any business aiming to expand its reach in the vast Chinese market. With its comprehensive suite of features and wide user base, WeChat offers an unparalleled platform for business growth and customer engagement.
2. Douyin – The Rising Star of Chinese Social Media
What is Douyin?
Douyin is China’s TikTok, and GAB wrote an article comparing the two, which you can read here. As a powerhouse in the Chinese social media landscape, Douyin has revolutionized content creation since its launch in 2016. The app is known for its unique algorithm and endless content supply, quickly becoming the fastest-growing short video platform in China. Douyin empowers average users to gain broad recognition and reach influencer status, making it home to millions of diverse content creators and loyal followers.
Recognized as the largest knowledge, culture, and art platform in China, Douyin offers content such as dance challenges, song covers, short skits, educational summaries, and life hacks. Its algorithm quickly learns user preferences, curating content for the best user experience.
Douyin’s Shift Towards E-commerce
In June 2020, Douyin began emphasizing e-commerce, and by October 2020, it stopped supporting third-party product links, directing users instead to Douyin’s own e-commerce storefront. Douyin further streamlined its in-app purchases by launching Douyin Pay in January 2021. Top influencers and leading brands, such as Make Up For Ever and MAC, increased traffic to their Douyin Stores through product-hosting livestreams. As a result, Douyin has become an essential platform for creating unique, visual content for product or service promotion.
Mastering the Douyin algorithm may require effort, but the rewards are considerable. Effective use of this platform can lead to reaching younger generations through specialized marketing and advertising strategies, resulting in high growth rates and strong sales numbers.
Douyin by the Numbers
- Launched: 2016
- Monthly active users: 514.45 million (December 2020)
- Total active users: 600 million (January 2021)
- Daily active users: 600 million (August 2020)
- Age breakdown (2020):
- <20: 13.7%
- 21-30: 35%
- 31-40: 29.6%
- 41-50: 18.5%
- Average hours spent in app per month: 23.1 (2020)
- Top Social Media and Streaming Video Apps ranking: 2 – social media (2020)
- Leading Apps by MAU ranking: 5 (2020)
How Douyin Can Boost Your Business
Advertising on Douyin
For consideration, ads on Douyin can reach a wide and relevant audience using crowd attribute tags, interests, and scenes. These ads can be static images, moving images, or audio/visual, depending on your needs. Douyin challenges, when done correctly, can be a fun and unique way to achieve brand exposure and spread a message.
Interacting with Your Audience
Creating an Effect or sharing your copyrighted music allows users to interact personally with your business on Douyin. If the content is trend-worthy, it can spread like wildfire. Douyin’s authentication service provides exclusive rights and privileges, including user management, data analysis, and marketing conversion, to help your business reach its full potential on the platform.
Leveraging DOU+ for Content Generation
Douyin creators also have access to DOU+, a tool that helps generate more views and engagement by allowing creators to specify their target audience.
Douyin and E-Commerce
Coincidentally, Douyin has followed in the footsteps of other platforms, allowing users to make purchases directly within the app. Live streaming is popular on the platform, with creators sharing products and offering discounts during streams. Pop-up images link viewers to the Douyin e-commerce page for direct purchases, making it easier than ever for customers to buy products they learn about from Douyin content.
The Power of Live Streaming
Live streaming has taken Douyin by storm. Some creators sign exclusive deals to live stream only on Douyin, where they interact with their audience, sometimes multiple times a day. By sharing products and offering discounts during these streams, they can directly drive sales on the Douyin e-commerce page.
Conclusion: Douyin as an Essential Chinese Social Media Platform
In the fast-paced world of Chinese social media, Douyin has set itself apart as a platform where users can not only enjoy diverse and personalized content but also engage with brands in real-time through interactive advertising and e-commerce features. Whether you’re looking to expand your brand presence, launch a new product, or tap into Douyin’s younger demographic, mastering the Douyin platform can unlock new opportunities for growth and engagement.
Harness the Power of Chinese Social Media
Understanding and leveraging these Chinese social media giants – WeChat and Douyin – can be the key to unlocking vast potential for your business in China. Both platforms offer unique ways to engage with audiences and promote products or services. Stay tuned for more insights into the world of Chinese social media and how you can use it to boost your business.
3. RED: A Distinctive Niche in Chinese Social Media
An Overview of RED (Little Red Book)
RED, affectionately referred to as Little Red Book, is a prominent Chinese social media platform that principally focuses on lifestyle content, including fashion, beauty, food, and travel. Acting as a blogging platform, it’s a space where users frequently share vivid images and engaging videos of their favourite luxury skincare products, tantalising food from their global travels, insightful job interview tips, and motivating exercise routines.
Quite notably, RED has established itself as a launchpad for internet trends. In fact, a single post from an influential user has the power to drive thousands of people to a newly opened store or a unique coffee shop, thereby underscoring the remarkable influence of this platform.
Since its launch in 2013, RED has rapidly risen to prominence for its lifestyle content, attracting a diverse audience spanning different income levels, educational backgrounds, and personal interests. Therefore, if your target audience comprises young, adventurous females, then incorporating RED into your Chinese social media strategy is a vital step forward.
Delving into RED’s Metrics
- Launch Year: 2013
- Monthly Active Users: 12.3368 million (as of March 2020)
- Total Active Users: 300 million (as of July 2019)
- Gender Distribution (2020): 22.56% male and 77.44% female
- Age Breakdown (2020):
- <24: 31.095%
- 25-30: 30.07%
- 31-35: 21.9%
- 36-40: 12.11%
- 41+: 3.82%
- Monthly Income Distribution (2020):
- <3,000 RMB: 39.89%
- 3,000-5,000 RMB: 23.82%
- 5,000-10,000 RMB: 23.07%
- 10,000-20,000 RMB: 9.06%
- 20,000+ RMB: 4.16%
- Ranking by Monthly Active Users: 27 (2020)
How RED Can Amplify Your Business
Facilitating Online and Offline Engagement
In today’s digital age, it’s undeniable that consumers love sharing photos. By designing your retail space to be highly photogenic, you can effectively unlock the potential of RED for your business. Moreover, for online stores, RED has cleverly integrated virtual shopping, enabling users to make purchases directly within the app and thus eliminating the need to bookmark a product for later.
Capitalizing on Live-streaming
Live-streaming is emerging as a hot marketing strategy on RED. By strategically engaging a Key Opinion Leader (KOL) who can showcase your product in real time, you can achieve a significant impact. This is primarily because fans and followers enjoy interacting with their favourite KOLs through live-streams, presenting an excellent opportunity to share your business with a large, yet relevant audience.
Maximizing Explore Page Promotions
RED’s homepage functions essentially like an explore page, smartly promoting new posts based on a user’s interests and who they follow. This intuitive feature makes it easy for relevant users to discover your business’ content.
Harnessing RED’s International Reach
Interestingly, a significant number of RED users have spent time studying or working abroad, thereby giving the platform a unique international reach. Thanks to its micro-blogging and recommendation-based interface, users can browse, find, and recommend popular content, regardless of their geographical location. Consequently, this feature cements RED’s position as a valuable component of any robust Chinese social media strategy.
4. Sina Weibo: The Heartbeat of Chinese Social Media
What Makes Weibo Unique?
While WeChat allows users to keep tabs on their close friends through the Moments feed, Weibo broadens the horizon. Indeed, Weibo, often referred to as the “Twitter of China” allows users to follow their favorite celebrities, Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), fan accounts, theme accounts, and much more. Not only does Weibo support text longer than 140 characters and more than four pictures, but it also enables users to share ephemeral pictures or short videos that vanish after 24 hours, akin to the “Stories” feature on Western social media platforms.
But Weibo’s influence extends beyond mere interaction with favorite accounts or photo blogs. It features a “Hot Search” ranking that spotlights trending topics, keeping users in the loop even when they’re not actively following the latest news. Given that the younger generation comprises some of China’s biggest spenders, Weibo offers an excellent platform for high communication exposure to this demographic. As such, many advertisers prioritize their brand’s reputation, interactions, and relevance on Weibo when strategizing their Chinese social media approach.
The Power of Weibo in Numbers
- Launch Year: 2009
- Monthly Active Users: 511 million (as of Q3, 2020)
- Total Active Users: 511 million (as of January 2021)
- Gender Distribution (2020): 53.4% male, 46.6% female
- Age Breakdown (2018):
- 16-17: 6%
- 18-22: 35%
- 23-30: 40%
- 31-40: 14%
- 41+: 5%
- Average Hours Spent in App per Month: 3.8 (2020)
- Social Media and Streaming Video Apps Ranking: 5 (2020)
- Leading Apps by Monthly Active Users: 11 (2020)
Leveraging Weibo for Business Success
Harnessing the Power of Advertising
Weibo strategically places ads between posts on every user’s feed and interspersed among Stories. Even the opening screen and search function serve up ads, ensuring a high level of exposure. Furthermore, Weibo’s Fan Headlines — also known as Fan Tunnels and Fanstop — allow brands to promote their posts to users who follow similar or related accounts. This unique feature enables brands to reach a broader audience that still falls within their specific target demographic.
Amplifying Brand Presence
Weibo emerges as a valuable platform for developing and amplifying your brand’s image and voice in the realm of Chinese social media. It encourages frequent, though concise, updates, allowing for a more casual and relatable engagement with customers compared to formal messages on WeChat Service or Subscription Accounts. Thus, by actively interacting with customers and sharing relevant content, you can successfully leverage Weibo to enhance your brand’s visibility and resonance in the bustling Chinese social media landscape.
Embrace the Power of Chinese Social Media: GAB China at Your Service
In the rapidly evolving landscape of Chinese social media, platforms like WeChat, Weibo, and RED have emerged as dominant forces, engaging hundreds of millions of users on a daily basis. These platforms have uniquely curated their features to cater to the diverse interests of their user base, from casual social interaction and lifestyle content sharing to real-time updates on trending topics. As a brand seeking to establish a formidable presence in China, mastering these platforms becomes not just advantageous, but absolutely essential. Yet, navigating the complex and dynamic world of Chinese social media can be challenging without the right guidance and expertise.
This is precisely where GAB China, a premier Chinese social media agency, steps in. With a wealth of experience in leveraging the power of WeChat, Weibo, RED, and other Chinese social media platforms, GAB China offers tailored solutions designed to elevate your brand and deliver remarkable results. Whether you’re aiming to boost your brand visibility, engage with your target audience, or optimize your advertising strategy, GAB China’s team of skilled professionals are committed to realizing your goals. So, why wait? Partner with GAB China today and let’s embark on an exciting journey of success in the Chinese social media landscape together.