Top 3 Chinese Social Media Trends in 2020

The social media market in China has its own rhythm and flow. The world’s leading social platforms like Facebook and Instagram can’t be accessed in the Middle Kingdom, except LinkedIn. Therefore, new social media platforms have emerged for the Chinese population. WeChat, QQ, Douyin/TikTok, Sina Weibo and RED Book (Xiao Hong Shu) are the most popular of them.

Now, which Chinese social media trends can we observe in 2020? This week’s Tenba Group article reveals everything you need to know and how to implement them for your business.

Social Media in Chinese Culture

In China, social apps are an even more integral part of everyday life than anywhere else in the world. But why is that so? To start this article, let us explain the main aspects which make Chinese social media platforms different from social networking in the West, and what the current social media environment in China looks like.

marketing in China

First, you may ask yourself, why are there even Chinese social apps and why people in the Middle Kingdom do not just use Facebook, Instagram & Co? The answer is quite simple: the aforementioned platforms are blocked by the Chinese censorship, and to strengthen the local economy in the Middle Kingdom since social networks are a large place for business.

The Chinese market is powerful! You may not be surprised to read that the Chinese tech giant Tencent with its products WeChat and QQ has almost the same revenue and monthly active users (MAU) like Facebook – the largest social network in the world made 70.7 billion USD in 2019.

Secondly, Chinese social media users love being online and are very tech affine. They use their favorite apps like WeChat for everything – from connecting with friends to shopping and from payment to booking appointments, gaming, and more. WeChat mini-programs have become a popular way to access all these features without ever leaving WeChat. When it comes to shopping, Chinese consumers can’t get enough of cross-border commerce platforms like Tmall Global, Kaola, and Xiao Hong Shu to buy high-quality and prestigious imported goods.

Finally, what makes Chinese social platforms different from Western ones is the relevance of influencers, so-called Wangong, KOLs (key opinion leaders) and KOCs (key opinion consumers). The more than 840 million online users in 2019 in the Chinese market (compared to 300 million mobile users in the US) trust their peers more than the regular advertisements. Everybody can create content, and that sells.

About Tier Cities in China

In this article, we mention Tiers. This is a system, which classifies cities in mainland China.

  • Tier 1 are mega-cities like Beijing or Shanghai with a population of more than 20 million people
  • New Tier 1 are larger cities like Wuhan with around 11 million inhabitants
  • Tier 2 cities are for example Xiamen with around 2 million inhabitants
  • Tier 3 are cities like Qingdao with a population of around 9 million.

So, let’s take a look at this year’s trends in Chinese social media!

3 Chinese Social Media Trends to Follow in 2020

Now that we have laid the foundation for the Chinese social media environment, let’s dive into the top social media trends in China in 2020.

China marketing advice

1. Live Streaming

After short videos, live streaming is the next big thing in the Chinese social media world. Live streaming can be anything from daily life to tutorials, playing games online, singing, dancing and other forms of entertainment.

China’s live-streaming industry is booming with revenues of around 5 billion USD per year and growing. Among the 150 live streaming platforms in China, almost all of them focus on entertainment shows. Nearly half of the 840 million internet users in China are using live streaming apps.

Live streaming offers a high level of interaction and engagement. That’s why it is so important, for brands and individuals. No other channel or marketing strategy provides the same depth of interaction. Live streaming also has the highest engagement rate among all content types. Chinese consumers love influencers and seeing them live. Live streaming and shopping are a heavenly match.

Live-streaming is even more popular in lower-Tier cities compared to other parts of China. These more remote rural areas have limited entertainment options for young people to enjoy. As a result, the internet becomes the one and sometimes only fun and cheap place to hang out and engage with peers.

China’s tech heavyweights Tencent (WeChat, QQ), Alibaba and Baidu (China’s top search engine) in particular invest in this technology with the hope to boost their ecommerce, social networking, and gaming business.

2. Artificial Intelligence

AI (machines imitating human intelligence) recently entered our online world in the form of personalized recommendations, data-driven in-store experiences, image and speech recognition, as well as chatbots.

The global AI market in social media is expected to exceed 3,7 billion USD by 2025. And it may not surprise you to read that the biggest growth rate is expected in the tech affine Asia Pacific area (China, Japan, India) with a large number of social media users. In fact, China is planning to become the world leader in AI by 2030. The future with facial recognition, delivery drones, self-driving vehicles, smart cities, fintech, and online medical diagnoses has already started.

In addition, the rising adoption of machine learning and deep learning technology is gaining importance in social media platforms. Furthermore, increasing demand for virtual assistants coupled with the adoption of cloud-based applications expectedly will drive revenue growth in this market.

3. Xiachen

Xiachen is Chinese for “to sink” or “to submerge”. These days, sinking into the lower Tier markets with marketing activities is becoming more and more popular. These Tier 3 and lower areas are suburbs and “smaller” cities in China, which are still in many cases large cities with millions of inhabitants.

Why is that so? Well, Chinese consumers in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities receive tons of content, messages, calls to action and so on. This has become a highly competitive environment for brands and influencers. Therefore, there is still a larger potential for the growth of ecommerce and services in the more “rural areas”.

For example, a 2019 survey among Chinese female shoppers found that consumers in Tier 3 cities and below spent more than consumers in Tier 1 and Tier 2 areas during the 2019 Alibaba Shopping Festival.

The characteristics of Tier 3 areas are a lower cost of living at an equivalent income of higher Tier cities. This means that consumers are able to spend more on shopping, lifestyle, and entertainment.

Inhabitants of lower Tier areas also have a less stressful work schedule, but also fewer entertainment options. As a result, they turn to online shopping, gaming, entertainment, and socialization.

However, consumers in Tier 3 and below prefer more relatable content than the higher Tier online audience. They have a different taste, imagery and messaging, which reflect more their actual lifestyle, rather than a luxury lifestyle which higher Tier consumers aspire. But don’t be a fool. As incomes and status in Tier 3 and lower areas increase, consumers will ask for higher-quality goods.

To summarize, if you are looking for marketing advice for China, incorporating one or several of these 2020 Chinese social media trends is surely a great approach.

The Takeaway

Social media platforms in China are a great place for digital marketing of your business and entering the Chinese market. Over the last months, a super-app for everything, influencers, and cross-border have conquered in the Chinese market. The top 3 Chinese social media trends we will observe in 2020 are live streaming, artificial intelligence (AI), and Xiachen (selling to lower Tier markets). What is your favorite trend in the social media environment in China this year? Let us know!

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Do you want to know more about marketing in China for your business? Tenba Group is your experienced partner and China marketing agency. We are excited to connect you with a user base of more than 1.5 million Chinese around the world.

Whether through promoting your products with Baidu SEO, smart WeChat marketing or boosting your business with the assistance of local KOCs (Chinese influencer marketing) – we get the job done for you! These Key Opinion Consumers are the bridge to connect the Xiachen world and Tier 1 cities in China.

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