Reaching the Chinese audience through social media: the power of WeChat and Weibo

Friday June 8, 2018 - Posted by:

It may shock you to learn that despite being a place where you won’t find any sign of Facebook, let alone be able to share or consume news or content on YouTube, Instagram, or Twitter — China has the world’s largest internet user base, comprised of roughly 700 million people. That’s more than twice the population of the United States. With such a wide reach, you’d be mad to miss China out of your social media marketing strategy.

However, where there is a wealth of business opportunity, there are bound to be various challenges to surmount. China has its own unique set of hurdles when it comes to digital marketing, including but not limited to its extreme media censorship policies and social media crackdown. Consequently, almost every successful social media platform in China is local.

So, how do you tap your social media marketing strategy into the Chinese market? You adjust it to target at a local level, starting with its biggest social media platforms.

What You Need to Know About WeChat

This year, WeChat hit over 1 billion user accounts — the equivalent of twice the EEA population. Also known as “Weixin”, WeChat is a flagship social network platform under Tencent with functions that allow money transferring, taxi ordering, online shopping, private or group voice and video chatting, social status posting (known as “Moments” in WeChat), subscription to Official Accounts to access articles and multimedia content, and more. Of all the functions, Moments and Official Accounts are the most effective platforms to market new brands, and campaign existing brands. Tencent also provides different advertising formats based on targeted users.

Posts on Moments

On Moments posts, ad formats comply with the outline of normal Moments posts, and can be employed to promote brand campaigns, Official Accounts, and mobile apps, as well as offline stores. Campaigns can use pictures and videos with links inserted below the originated post that directs to landing pages to attract targeted customers, and eventually increase impressions. In general, the format of the ads posted matches the style of normal posts to provide a seamless user experience that doesn’t feel like a bombardment of ads.

WeChat Banner Ads

With a similar function to ads launched on Moments, Banner Ads in Official Accounts perform slightly differently as there are numerous influencer accounts on WeChat that publish sponsored content to boost popularity, normally with tens of thousands of followers.

What You Need to Know About Weibo

Commonly referred to as the “Chinese Twitter”, Sina Weibo has 600 million monthly users and serves as a microblogging service and is one of WeChat’s biggest contenders. Weibo has become a vital marketing tool for international brands in recent years, so it should play a key role in your social strategy should you wish to target Chinese audiences.

With WeChat being a ‘super app’ that can do almost anything, it can be hard to understand the appeal of other channels such as Weibo. The key distinction is the open and public nature of Weibo, which makes it particularly appealing to businesses targeting China.

There are several ways to advertise on Weibo. Display advertisements both on mobile and webpage versions of Weibo appear as banners in various dimensions and direct users to a webpage when clicked. Weibo Search Engine promotion is another advertising option, and is normally pre-loaded with search terms based on hot topics or advertising. Arguably the most effective and economical approach is through Fan Tunnel, or FenSiTong. Fan Tunnel and its upgraded version “Super Fan” both serve to promote Weibo accounts to a larger audience, and therefore achieve more impressions. Account holders can specify their target demographics by age, gender, region, interests, and even browsing device used.

In the ever-evolving Chinese market, localisation is key. Take mini-programs in WeChat as an example, they allow brands to imbed multiple services within a single app. Tesla’s mini-program, for instance, allows users to schedule test drives, locate charging stations, as well as leave reviews and share their experience driving a Tesla car with other users. Users can open almost any app without having to download a thing, and at a very fast loading speed. The future of mobile marketing in China is bright, but it’s up to individuals to seize opportunities. If you want to dip your toes in the Chinese market, make sure you get help from marketing professionals. At Locaria, we’re experts in localisation and social media marketing. New market entry can be a daunting prospect, but our international team can help you devise a plan and ease the process to ensure your brand is ready to tackle the Asian market with confidence.

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