Azoya

Top Chinese Social Media Platforms You Need To Know

Social media platforms in China are vastly different from the west. While Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter continue to dominate the western world, China has seen the emergence of many innovative new social platforms.

In China, people on average spend 5 hours and 50 minutes on the internet, which accounts for one-third of waking time in a day. Within the time sent on the internet, Chinese people spend an average of 2 hours and 12 minutes on social media platforms.[1] Additionally, iiMedia research shows that more than 40% of Chinese use 3-4 social media applications per day.[2]

According to Statista, the Chinese internet population was around 971 million in 2020 and would surge up to 1.29 billion by 2026.[3] As the world’s largest online community continues to grow, Chinese social media sites have become popular tools to reach Chinese consumers. With the diversification of China's social media ecosystem, various social media applications have brought a deeper impact to consumers' lives. More and more brands have also been using social media as a major marketing tool for brand promotion and other activities.

For brands, understanding the various social media platforms in China is crucial to engage with Chinese customers.

Top 8 must-know social media platforms in China (2021 Updated)

1. WeChat

WeChat is the must-have social commerce platform in China, with over 1.2 billion monthly active users. Chinese users spend an average of over 70 minutes a day within the app. All this amazing data makes WeChat become one of the most popular choices for brands to get started with social media marketing in China.

WeChat allows for one-to-one personalized interaction between brands and users. In WeChat, brands can create official accounts to share content improve brand image, launch Mini-Programs for deeper engagement with consumers, share videos in WeChat Channel, and directly communicate with consumers through private traffic pools to enhance consumer's loyalty.

WeChat ecosystem is still the platform with the closest relationship with users and the highest monetization value.

WHAT BRANDS NEED TO KNOW

Mini Program will continue to play a greater business value. In April of this year, WeChat Mini Program cooperated with JD.com. A direct search for LOUIS VUITTON on JD.com app will bring users to the relevant page, and clicking on any product will redirect users to the WeChat mini-program. Using a cross-platform way, brands can import the public traffic of all e-commerce platforms into the WeChat mini-program with private domain. In the future, mini-programs will still be one of the channels that brands cannot ignore for developing online business.

WeChat Channel is a potential platform to reach users. Compared with Douyin, the recommendation mechanism of WeChat Channels can fully tap the value of the user's acquaintance relationship chain and network resources to help brands expand private traffic and influence. DTC brands can use WeChat Channels as a platform to attract and retain customers.

2. Weibo

Weibo is one of the most popular sites in China and is often considered to be Chinese Twitter.

Like WeChat, Weibo is another platform brands commonly used for social media marketing in China. As of November 2020, Weibo has had over 520 million monthly active users and 230 million daily active users.[4] Weibo is a suitable platform for content to go viral and for KOLs to build their online communities.

WHAT BRANDS NEED TO KNOW?

Weibo has abundant KOL and celebrity resources. Brands can use Weibo for IP marketing to help enhance brand influence, such as Tom Ford's crossover marketing in the program "Sisters Who Make Waves". Combined with the popularity of the show, Tom Ford created the same makeup as sisters and launched a new lipstick, which triggered social heat and accurately reached the target fans.

Using Weibo for IP marketing is an important and effective solution for brands. It can not only help brands break down, but also increase brand influence and user engagement at a lower marketing cost. According to incomplete statistics, in 2019-2020, more than 10 brands cooperated with Weibo for IP marketing.

E-commerce of Weibo will continue. Brands can link Taobao stores and products in their Official Account posts. With many users already having Alipay linked to their Weibo accounts, they can purchase featured products with just one click. Therefore, Weibo can be very effective in driving online sales.

3. Little Red Book

Founded in 2013, Little Red Book (Red) was built to be a platform primarily focused on User Generated Content, where users could share reviews and their experiences to help others with their purchasing decisions.

Red is a community-based e-commerce platform with 450 million registered users mainly residing in first-tier cities. According to the information publicized by Red, the platform has over 100 million monthly active users, 450,000 new posts generated daily, and exposure to over 10 billion pieces of content daily. It is prevalent among Generation Z users born in the internet era who rely on social media as their primary source of information.

WHAT BRANDS NEED TO KNOW?

Livestreaming: A new traffic entrance. Red's current livestreaming is divided into interactive livestreaming and e-commerce livestreaming, the proportion of interactive livestream is 90%. For brands, livestreaming on Red is more about exposure and promotion. Because Red's users have a strong purchasing power and willingness to spend, Red live can be seen as a new engine for the brand's growth.

Perfect platform to improve brand awareness. Compared to “traditional” advertisements, content on RED appears more trustworthy for Chinese millennials. It is an ideal place to create word of mouth and increase brand awareness, especially for smaller or less well-known brands. Brand can use Red as a part of a marketing plan, instead of just leveraging it as a cross-border e-commerce platform, for example to detecting the latest interests from young consumers in China.

4. Douyin

As of August 2020, Douyin's daily active users exceeded 600 million, and the average number of daily video searches exceeded 400 million.[5] Douyin marketing in China can offer wide opportunities for brands on the market.

WHAT BRANDS NEED TO KNOW?

Douyin customized marketing campaigns connect brands and users.For example, brands use specific topics as an interactive way to attract users to create videos. Estee Lauder's latest topic called "Eye Marathon" has been played 107,000 times and introduced the new eye cream in the form of a short video. This can not only reach a wider range of ordinary users, but also help the brand to make a wide range of communication and exposure when new products are launched or when creating a hero product.

E-commerce links: In addition to Douyin’s native e-commerce platform, videos can link directly to e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, Jingdong, and more.

5. Kuaishou

Kuaishou is currently the second-largest short video platform in China, with more than 300 million DAU. It is rapidly becoming popular in cities below the second tier in China.

While most social media is dominated by celebrities and influencers, Kuaishou amplifies the voice of ordinary people and their lives. Kuaishou users are mainly young people who come from second and third-tier cities, but also from villages and rural areas of China.

WHAT BRANDS NEED TO KNOW?

More integrations with other E-commerce platforms. Kuaishou actively collaborates with all the other major players in Chinese online retail. From Kuaishou it is possible to connect to platforms such as Taobao, Pinduoduo, and JD.com. JD & Kuaishou partnership on May 2020 for the “618 Shopping festival”, users can purchase JD.com products directly from the Kuaishou app.

Kuaishou is also a cross-industry platform but suffers from a lower purchasing power than Douyin (its audience is younger and living in smaller cities). It is a good platform to promote commoditized or low-priced products

6. Zhihu

Zhihu, the Chinese version of Quora, is a popular online Q & A and social platform in China.As of 2020, Zhihu has 420 million registered users, 56% of whom are male (but the proportion of female users continues to grow). Users are located all over China (mainly in first and second-tier cities).

Zhihu users are better educated, have higher incomes, and have stronger purchasing power, therefore they are the kind of audience that many brands are striving to attract.

Zhihu platform is a good opportunity for brands because it is a powerful tool for soft-selling and influencing long-term buying decisions, as many users come to the platform for in-depth reviews and analysis when they need to make a purchase decision.

WHAT BRANDS NEED TO KNOW?

A powerful platform to do product seeding. Brands can reaching out to other Zhihu users through community interactions like asking questions or posting answers, this helps to establish a relationship with users. Brands can also collaboration with KOLs to promote product, using professional way to introduce the regarding formulas, materials and ingredients to delivering a reliable brand image and attract potential consumers attention.

Long-term choice for brand. Zhihu’s voting mechanism enables good content to last. Many brands say even today they can get upvote on the posts/answers that were published in the early years. Long-term branding will work very well on this platform.

7. Bilibili

Bilibili is one of the most popular social media platforms in China for video sharing. This platform has covered a multicultural community with more than 7,000 interest circles. It focuses on anime-related content and video game culture, the unique “Bullet culture” makes it easier for users to have a strong sense of social interaction with others.

Bilibili has 128 million Gen Z users, accounting for 82% of the total users.[6] The youthful community atmosphere creates high-stick user relationships. Compared with other platforms, Bilibili bloggers pay more attention to the emotional connection with fans, and their relationship with fans is closer.

WHAT BRANDS NEED TO KNOW?

Cooperate with KOLs. The original video marketing form of creators has become an effective way for many brand owners to capture young users. Through the real-time communication and interaction of Bullet in the video, users can even convey their preferences for the brand, product and content. For example, many beauty brands find suitable KOLs to launch videos of product evaluation and makeup tutorials to promote their products, and prepare some high-quality bullet screen comments to release at the right time in the videos.

Because of Bilibili's unique content ecology and user habits, more and more brands are starting to pay attention to it. Especially for young brands, using Bilibili to build brand image and cultivate brand awareness in the early stage among young groups can create long-term and sustainable value for the brand in the future.

More and more companies and institutions are also beginning to realize bilibili's traffic and dividends and settle on the platform. And the industry covers a wide range of industries, including food, mom and baby, automobiles, etc.

8. Douban

Douban is a social networking platform that focuses on expressing oneself and one’s lifestyle. Users often post on Douban to discuss books, movies, music, and events, and can also connect with each other based on similar tastes and interests.

It generates income from advertising, interactive marketing, and channel fees from book e-commerce.

WHAT BRANDS NEED TO KNOW?

Another core features of Douban are its group communities called “小组” on which people can share their experiences and join groups to talk about specific subjects with people sharing the same interests. For example, Lancôme took advantage of Douban to attract a wider audience and diversify its marketing channels. Lancôme has created a "We Like Lancôme" group, which currently has 3,372 members, where users discuss Lancôme products and recommend good products.

Key Takeaways

  • It isn’t easy to build brand awareness or conversions without relying on social media. Brands need to choose appropriate promotion methods based on the characteristics of different social media platforms to reach target customer groups.
  • Chinese digital landscape is much more fragmented and competitive than the western one. Therefore, there is not a single platform that guarantees immediate success, multichannel strategy is the best choice.
  • KOL marketing is important on all social media platform, with KOLs & KOCs on the rise, brand need to choose right influencers and collaborations with them to generate engaging content, which is a useful strategy.
  • For early-stage brands, it is not necessary to be present on all platforms. B2C e-commerce platform could be a better choice for them, because brands can leverage consistent performance-based marketing to grow sales incrementally.
  • Brands need to keep learning and understand how each of these Chinese social media sites works, and appeal to digital-savvy Chinese consumers.

[1] CNNIC: Statistical report on Internet development in China, 2019; url

[2] iimedia: 2020 China mobile social networking industry user portrait and behavior analysis,2020; url

[3] Statista: Number of internet users in China,2021; url

[4] China Internet Watch; Statistics: Weibo monthly active users (MAU) & DAU, 2020; url

[5] Statista; Douyin's DAUs in China 2019-2020, 2021; url

[6] Bilibili: A cultural community with a high concentration of Generation Z, 2021; url