It’s 2020 and China’s population sits comfortably at 1.4 billion people. Another interesting fact that makes digital marketers salivate: there are more than 1 billion Chinese social media users.
For a Western business, this poses a great opportunity to expand its user base to include a Chinese audience. So, let’s look at the 9 Chinese social media platforms you should know about in this Tenba Group article.
By now you have probably heard that Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter are all blocked by China’s firewalls. That means that China has had to create its own alternatives to satisfy the need for online platforms and social networks.
Which platforms are used in China?
China has hundreds of social media, networking, and commerce platforms available on the internet and mobile platforms. Furthermore, the most recent statistics show that of all the mainland internet users, a whopping 98% are mobile users.
This data suggests two things. The first is that Chinese users seek applications and sites that ease the convenience of daily life. The second is that businesses (both Chinese and foreign) have a lot of potential for success if they establish themselves on the right platform. So without further ado…
Here are the Chinese Social Media Platforms You Should Know About:
- Tencent WeChat
- Sina Weibo
- Tencent QQ
- Baidu Tieba
- Xiao Hong Shu
The Two Behemoths: Tencent WeChat and Weibo
The two biggest social media platforms, by numbers alone, are overwhelmingly WeChat and Weibo with more than 1 billion and more than 500 million monthly active users, respectively.
WeChat is a closed-circuit voice and text messaging service, similar to WhatsApp, but with additional features like games, shopping, and financial services. It is a platform not only for individuals but also for businesses and celebrities who have official accounts for promotion purposes.
In today’s China, people use WeChat for literally everything – from socializing to shopping, from mobile payments to tickets, and much more. We have compiled several articles in more detail about WeChat advertising and WeChat marketing in China.
2. Sina Weibo
Weibo is a microblogging site and application that can be thought of as something between Twitter and Facebook. Unlike WeChat, it is most used by a younger, more urban population and contains much more informational and trending content.
A big draw for businesses is that Weibo allows businesses to set up official, verified accounts to interact with users. Find out more about Sina Weibo in this fresh blog article.
TikTok/Douyin is a video-sharing social network by ByteDance, launched in 2017. TikTok and Douyin are similar but they run on separate servers to comply with Chinese censorship restrictions. The app lets users create short music and lip-sync videos of 3 to 15 seconds as well as short looping videos of 3 to 60 seconds.
It is very popular in Asia, the United States, and other parts of the world. And in October 2018, TikTok was the most downloaded app in the USA. Today, it is available in more than 150 countries and 75 languages. Read a more detailed article about this booming app here.
4. Tencent QQ (869 million users)
QQ is another instant messaging app, similar to WeChat. Its services include games, shopping, music, and microblogging. One of the key differences from WeChat, however, is that a user on QQ doesn’t need a phone number for registration. Additionally, QQ has a desktop application making it popular with business professionals working in offices.
5. Douban (154 million users)
Douban is a social networking platform that focuses on lifestyle expression and social commentary. It is a large platform where users can discuss media, brands, and events. It also prioritizes community building and allows its users to connect and form groups based on similar tastes and interests.
This makes it very appealing for businesses because companies are able to create brand pages where they can share their brand’s history and vision.
6. Baidu Tieba (660 million users)
Baidu Tieba is the largest communication platform created by China’s number one search engine, Baidu. It is essentially a large discussion forum where users can search for topics using keywords. It is something of a mix between Quora and Reddit in the West.
Check back on our blog as we will soon publish more detailed articles about Baidu SEO, how to register a Baidu account, how to index pages on Baidu, and much more.
7. Xiao Hong Shu (150 million users)
Xiao Hong Shu aka RED or The Little RedBook is a social media and e-commerce platform that allows its users to review luxury and foreign products, leave travel suggestions, and shop. Loosely comparable to a mix of Instagram and Pinterest.
It differs from the aforementioned by allowing users to purchase products and services directly from merchants. The app has many official partnerships with international brands and is seen as trustworthy in the eyes of Chinese consumers. Click here for more info about Xiao Hong Shu and China’s famous influencer and social marketing.
8. Youku (580 million users)
Youku is a video sharing platform, comparable to YouTube. Youku’s main difference from YouTube is that it contains far more professionally created content than self-created content by its users. It’s often used as a site to download and stream TV shows and movies.
9. DianPing (290 million users)
Dianping is China’s review and feedback site for restaurants, similar to Yelp. However, as it’s developed and added more features, it now allows users to review hotels, beauty salons, gyms, and companies providing services. Dianping allows businesses to post promotional offers and interact with customers. It is mainly used by white-collar, urban populations with disposable income.
Now, How do I get started?
There are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want to enter the Chinese market through Chinese Social Media. The first of which is choosing the right platform for your needs. Since there isn’t always an exact Western equivalent to a Chinese platform, doing thorough research is more important than just following the numbers.
Knowing your Audience
Chinese consumers are different than Western consumers in many ways. Most notably, even though they love brands, they are less brand-loyal and are always looking for the best price. The average annual salary in China is around 11,500 US dollars, but when you compare incomes around the country, Western cities are considerably less wealthy than the Eastern ones.
Scaling it Down
This may lead you to conclude that focusing on the major Eastern metropolitans is the way to go but cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin are oversaturated with businesses marketing through social media and commerce platforms.
Smaller cities such as Chengdu and Guangzhou, on the other hand, are good opportunities for Western businesses because they will have less competition but still provide a large consumer base. An expert or a China marketing agency may refer to this as Xiachen, sinking into the lower Tier markets in China. Click here for more Chinese social media trends and ecommerce news, you must know about.
What about the content? How do I adapt to Chinese style?
In our previous blog articles, we’ve talked about how important a smart content marketing strategy is for your business’s social media channel. So does that mean that you can just extend the strategy onto a Chinese platform? Yes and no.
Whatever product or service you offer, you will have to localize it to your new audience. For example, a Chinese audience prefers “cute” cartoon style content far more than a Western audience. But changing too much can take away from the appeal of a foreign product, which is often perceived to be better in quality than a Chinese one.
Social media marketing in China on Chinese Social Media platforms can be very fruitful for companies that are ready to gain exposure overseas. Doing market research, choosing the right platforms, and localizing for the Chinese market are the first steps businesses need to take if they want a chance at success.
This article is the first in our series on social media marketing in China. Check back in the future to learn more about choosing the right platform and creating a marketing plan for your business.
Does this sound overwhelming? Tenba Group, your trusted Chinese digital marketing agency, is here to help you develop the best strategy to harness the potential of the Chinese market and to promote your business on Chinese Social Media. Contact us for more information.