Exploiting Chinese Marketing Channels — Social Media (Part 3 Of 4)

by Azoya

China’s social media platforms have been facilitating and accelerating eCommerce activity. The main social media flatforms in China, represented by Weibo and WeChat, have been growing rapidly. Weibo is the counterpart of Twitter in China. WeChat is a mobile Instant Messenger app that has a wide range of features. They are both the deal platforms for e-marketing and branding.

Here are some statics explaining why your marketing strategy in China should include Weibo and WeChat:

MAUs(Monthly Active Users) of Weibo reached 227 million as of September 2015 with an increase of 33% YoY and daily active users reached 100 million with an increase of 30% YoY in Q3 2015. MAUs of WeChat were 650 million, with an increase of 39% YoY; daily active users 570 million in Sep 2015.

With almost instantaneous feedback and easy-to-use interfaces, social media platforms have become a staple in the life of Chinese e-consumers. Consumers in China use these platforms for immediate ‘buy/don’t buy’ advice from friends, to post product reviews, and to seek product knowledge/advice from key opinion leaders. On average, ten times more China consumers based their purchasing decisions on what was happening in their social networks when compared with American consumers across all age groups. This aligns with recent research that shows the degree to which social media drives online shopping in China and how mobile connectivity has changed in-store consumer behavior – reinforcing the increased emphasis that retailers must place on social media for a successful marketing strategy in China.

How to market on Weibo

Weibo is the hottest microblogging service in China now. It consumes 90% market shares of China’s microblogging services. Weibo is quite different from Twitter in that it has various features customized to Chinese users’ needs. Here are some helpful tips to operate in Weibo:

1. Get verified to gain trust

Weibo has a verification policy that helps users to distinguish the genuine celebrities or organizations. Having a V beside your username helps you establish a brand image on the platform. And most importantly, it will gain trust from users and attract more followers. As long as your business is well rated by Chinese customers and operate legally in China, you can easily get a blue V (designated to organization accounts).

Azoya BA

Bodyguard Apotheke, a German online pharmacy, has its Weibo account verified.

2. Interact frequently and comment back timely

Frequent interaction shows respect to your followers’ opinions and serves as a part of image building. Comment back is a way to broadcast your opinions to your customers and attracts them to a productive discussion. Thus a long-sustaining relationship between you and your customers can be established. Interaction also acts as the role of customer service. Many customers will go to social media to express their opinions or sometimes complaints about products or services they experienced. If you see those posts in the comment area, hashtag stream, direct messages or @ mentions, do respond timely. A discontent customer in Weibo is a disaster. He/she may make it known to the whole Weibo sphere.

3. Stand out with eye-catching contents

Weibo is a highly entertainment saturated platform. Fanny and laugh-provoking posts will always get a huge amount reposts. Be familiar with Chinese online memes, hot topics and buzzwords and use them cleverly. The most recent hot topic in Weibo is the TV series Legend of Miyue, which attracted a record 700 million hits in just 24 hours upon its release. Many Weibo accounts take this trend and post related contents to get attention. And it works.

4. Build your followers database

Weibo only shows 1, 000 followers in the follower list. It’s suggested you create a form recording the username, gender, location, influence(number of followers) of your followers from the beginning. This is for future initiative marketing. Posting contents alone has very limited effect. You need to extend to your target users initiatively. Don’t worry, not everyone are against ads, they’re just annoyed by the ads they are not interested in. If they follow you in the first place, you can tell they are interested.

5. Be consistent

No matter how wonderful your contents are, silence is the foe of your social media success. A continued presence in the platform will cultivate loyalty among your followers and prevent them walk away. Plus, consistent output can leave a feedback cue in your audience’s mind. They will keep looking forward to your updates.

How to market on WeChat

WeChat provides Official Account to various organisations. It can be used to push contents to your subscribers. WeChat also provides a wide array of APIs, enabling organizations to customize their account interface. You can even build an online store with your Official Account. Unlike Weibo, WeChat’s communication ecosystem is in a closed loop. Official Accounts push contents to subscribers, the latter can share the contents to their Moment(A closed social platform that only shows to users’ friends) and attract more readers. It takes different approaches to market in WeChat.

1. Be helpful

Unlike Weibo, the contents circulating in WeChat are mainly long articles. It takes patience for subscribers to open your message and read it through. The subscribers will subconsciously ask themselves “What’s there for me?” before opening your message. 100% advertising content will bore them and spook them away. It’s extremely important to present the most useful information in the title, such as “lifehack” tips, discounts, healthcare suggestions, etc.

2. Be different

There’s a myriad of articles circulating within WeChat everyday. Being monotonous won’t help you attract attention. Think hard to create unique and differentiated contents. A strategy you can work on is to add a human touch to your contents. Expressing your opinions and feelings (but be careful and avoid politics), making the readers know it’s a human who’s talking to them.

3. Cultivate a sense of involvement

It always feels great to be a part of something cool, especially among the young demographics. Create a community and involve everyone in. Design interactive activities and let users offer their opinions. These are the most common practices that are used by many successful Official Accounts. Once the users feel they belong to the community, you can steer them to your advantage.

4. Keep improving

WeChat provides a backstage console that presents the real-time statics of your Official Account. You can find the detailed demographics of your subscribers and their activity pattern. Keep a close eye on these stats and write analysis reports regularly. You need to adapt your contents and marketing strategy based on these analyses.

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