Social Media in China

Since most of Western social media platforms are banned in China, a varied array of domestic social media apps that cannot be found in any other country emerged, boasting nearly 931 million users overall. Hence the importance for foreign companies to understand China’s social media ecosystem in order to engage with their Chinese customers. In the new retail era, companies have to integrate offline and online strategies, providing Chinese consumers with a cross-channel and seamless experience. Therefore, nowadays, social media platforms in China are not just important for KOLs’ recommendations and targeted advertising, but also because they are incorporating e-commerce functionalities that allow users to do shopping without leaving their apps.

Daxue Consulting boasts a strong expertise in enhancing our clients’ presence on social networks, supporting their entry into Chinese e-tailing market and helping them to establish a programmatic ad model. Our team of consultants can assist you in finding your own way through the varied universe of China’s social media platforms.

WeChat is a Chinese multi-purpose app that can undoubtedly be considered as the number one social media platform in China, vaunting about 1.2 billion Monthly Active Users (MAUs) in 2020 Q3. Brands can create official accounts to share content, launch mini-programs for deeper engagement with consumers, share videos, and directly communicate with consumers through private traffic pools. WeChat Mini Programs are very versatile and can fit any daily need, including food delivery, e-commerce, mini games, life services, travel bookings. In September 2020, WeChat Mini Programs reached 832 million total MAUs.

Owned by the Chinese tech company Bytedance, this short video app stands out for its sophisticate algorithm that allows providing users with tailored content recommendations. It is currently the most downloaded social media in China, boasting 524 million MAUs in 2020. Most of Douyin members are in the age range 19-40 years old, live in Tier-1, Tier-2, Tier-3 and Tier-4 cities and flaunt a medium-high purchasing power. The video-sharing platform is currently on the verge of building its own e-commerce ecosystem and launched its own in-app payment method, in an attempt to get independence from other large tech companies. Moreover, Bytedance’s subsidiary is determined to expand its business into the gaming market.

Weibo is a microblogging platform, which allows sharing, spreading and getting a wide range of content. According to its parent company, Sina, the social media reached 511 million MAU in 2020 Q3, recording a meagre 2% increase. Indeed, the microblogging app is currently engaged in a harsh competition with other social networks, such as Douyin and WeChat. Having an official Weibo account is a must-have for both domestic and foreign brands in order to keep their customers updated on new launches, events and marketing campaigns.

Kuaishou is one of the most popular video platforms in China. Unlike Douyin, such app is designed to offer an authentic user experience through a massive and diverse feed of live streaming and short video content. During 2020, about 769 million MAUs used Kuaishou apps and mini programs, spending more than 86 minutes daily on average. 61% of Kuaishou members live in lower tier cities and their average age is relatively higher than that of Douyin’s users. In 2020, the platform earned above 204 million RMB in Gross Merchandise Value.

With over 300 million users, Xiaohongshu is one of the most popular social commerce app. This platform, which is similar to Instagram and Pinterest, is especially widespread among Chinese female consumers. Moreover, above 53% of users are between 20-29 years old and come from Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities. Beauty, fashion and delicacy are the hot topics on Xiaohongshu. Compared to “traditional” ads, content on this app appears more trustworthy for Chinese Millennials, turning Xiaohongshu into an ideal place where triggering word-of-mouth and increase brand awareness, especially for smaller or less well-known brands.

Founded in 2005, the pan-entertainment platform Douban vaunts a longer history than the other social networks. What makes this app so special is its hybrid nature: Douban combines the functionalities of IMDB, Pinterest, Twitter, Spotify, Goodreads, Craigslist, Meetup, and Reddit altogether. Nevertheless, movie and TV series reviews are one of its most successful features and many Chinese young people usually skim through Douban’s film evaluations before choosing what movie is worth watching.

All members of the question-and-answer website Zhihu can ask, reply, follow and edit questions, fostering knowledge sharing within the community. The platform allows brands to identify problems and doubts that shoppers bump into during their customer journey, turning the app into a powerful marketing tool. Furthermore, through adding business-friendly functions, such as e-commerce links and live streaming, in recent years Zhihu has become especially significant for China’s beauty consumers and marketers.

Bilibili is one of the fastest-growing and best-performing video-sharing community platforms in China. In the span of 12 years, the company gradually developed, expanding its business into advertising, mobile gaming, e-commerce, live streaming, and launching a premium subscription plan. Bilibili’s success is partly due to its ability to build up an engaged and connected community through restricting full membership to passionate and like-minded users, allowing members to share their impressions directly on the videos, and fostering user-generated content. Furthermore, since 2019 users can easily purchase advertised products by entering the app’s mini-programs.

Consumer Relationship Management (CRM) systems help businesses to deal with all the operations aiming to increase, retain and augment the customer portfolio. With the development of the internet and the emergence of social networks, more and more companies in China are seeking for CRM systems that may reinforce their business model, intercept customer needs and help them to grow. Considering the importance of social media platforms in China, social CRM are booming. This new category of CRM systems allows being closer to Chinese customers and offering personalized services, while reducing customer acquisition costs through viral marketing.

Consumer-Generated Video (CGV) economy includes economic activities promoted by content created by end-users. CGVs allow brands to widen and engage with their customer base, since 92% of Chinese consumers usually trust such kind of content more than traditional advertising. Douyin, Bilibili, Kuaishou, Xigua and Weishi are some of the most renowned CGV-sharing app. Brands should find the one that better fit their needs and stay away from viral video trends that risk damaging their image. The Chinese hotpot chain Haidilao and the new style tea brand Coco Milk Tea are two good examples of how successfully leverage China’s CGV economy.

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