Chinese Social Media 101: Where’s My Audience At?
In this blog, we aim to give you a brief overview of Chinese social media, how the major channels work, and who is using it well. This is just a snapshot, and we’re always happy to talk in more depth about how we can help you get your name on Chinese social media, so please feel free to get in touch with us anytime. But in short…
More and more brands, businesses and organisations are looking to increase their digital presence in China. But with an online landscape so different to our own here in the UK, how can you decide on the best channels to use?
Latest figures suggest that there are now almost 700 million internet users in China. Of these, over two-thirds prefer to access the web via smartphone. This means that social media content needs to be snappy, eye-catching and above all else, mobile-optimised. But where should you be putting that content, and who do you want to speak with?
Chinese social media is concentrated on the two dominant channels: Weibo and WeChat. Let’s start with Weibo, the micro-blogging site. Similar in style to Twitter, each Weibo post is limited to 140 characters.
With 212 million monthly active users (a whopping 30% of the online Chinese population), it’s an important place to be if you want to connect with audiences in the region. Businesses and brands are encouraged by Weibo to sign up for a verified account, which allows users to find you and your content more easily.
Although this does require a one-off fee of $1000 (equivalent to £700 at the time of writing), the additional features and benefits a verified account can bring outweigh this initial cost.
Essentially, a verified Weibo account is far more easily found by Weibo users. The platform’s search engine prioritises verified accounts in its results.
Verified accounts also allow for interface personalisation – an important consideration when getting across your visual identity. Let’s take the example of Volkswagen – obviously a huge international corporation, with a very clear visual brand. They’ve been using Weibo since 2012, attracting over 1.2 million followers. As you can see from their Weibo page, it’s full of close-ups of their latest models, providing the detail Chinese consumers interested in buying a new car are looking for, all in the sleek VW style.
With no limits to the number of posts that can be published per day, and wide audience outreach, Weibo is a great place to connect with your Chinese audiences online.
But there is a Chinese social media platform that rivals Weibo in terms of size and reach: WeChat. Widely seen as a cross between WhatsApp and Instagram, the app was launched in 2011 and now has over 650 million active users.
WeChat differs from its Western counterparts in that, rather than communicating with friends, users primarily use it to access information via notifications. By subscribing to an account, users are automatically informed whenever a new update is posted. This can be a powerful tool in keeping Chinese audiences up to date with the latest news, events and offers.
Brands such as Starbucks and Louis Vuitton were quick to get involved, recognising their huge audience in China and setting up WeChat accounts to provide instant information about new products and offers to followers.
As the most popular social media platform in China, WeChat has obvious benefits to those wishing to reach out to audiences in the region. The format allows for easy interaction with followers, and helps your audiences feel part of the community by providing them with the information they’re after in real-time.
However, a few considerations to bear in mind with WeChat: businesses and organisations based outside of China can only register for a verified account via an agent, and only a single post is allowed per day. So choose your content wisely!
We hope that’s whet your appetite to start thinking about how you can raise your profile on Chinese social media. As Utterly Content’s resident Chinese social media specialist, I’m here for any questions you might have about how you can make the most of Weibo and WeChat. Simply drop me a line via our contact form for an in-depth chat.