Social Media Marketing in China
Jessica Miao, Chief Executive Officer + Founder, UMS
United Media Solution (UMS) specialises in helping overseas companies connect their brands and products with Chinese consumers.
With offices in Auckland, Melbourne, Sydney, Shanghai and Ningbo, and a global team of more than 50 staff, UMS has worked with a range of companies across food, beverage, tourism, education and other sectors to help their businesses succeed in the competitive China market.
We asked founder and CEO of UMS Jessica Miao to share her thoughts on the fundamentals for marketing to a Chinese audience.
“China can be a challenging and overwhelming market for new entrants. Not only do you have to overcome the language and cultural differences, but when it comes to marketing, China’s unique digital environment means you have to abandon Facebook, Twitter and Google, and embrace WeChat, Weibo, Youku, Douyin, and a host of other Chinese platforms."
“With more than 800 million internet users, China has a record number of apps which each boast more than 100 million monthly active users. However, with so many platforms, competitors, and clutter, how can you ensure your brands and products stand out and connect with Chinese consumers?
We believe the keys to success in China come down to three fundamentals: community, content and commerce.”
Companies need to create and maintain a community of consumers who are interested in your brand and its products. You must create compelling, interesting or entertaining content to help build trust, loyalty and engagement with fans. Finally, companies must create seamless pathways to commerce platforms, in order to convert the community into sales."
"There are a number of ways to create and build a social community, and a wealth of platforms where brands can connect with consumers. Two key ways to build a community following is through WeChat and the use of KOLs.”
WeChat is a hugely popular channel for social media, with more than 1 billion users, the majority of which average up to 4 hours on the app every day, it’s easy to see why. The beauty of WeChat is that it enables more than just social content; it also provides a two-way conversation channel between your company and Chinese consumers. A great tool for brands is to create a WeChat group with people with common interests and backgrounds, which can be used for promotional campaigns and incentives to build and maintain an engaged and loyal community. Of course, WeChat is only one app and many brands have found success with other apps such as Douyin, Weibo or Little Red Book. Knowing which app is best for your brand is important for cutting through the clutter.
Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) play a hugely important role in Chinese social media – much like influencers all around the world. China’s KOLs command huge audiences of loyal followers and cover a number of channels, audiences and specialties, based on skills, interests, talents, knowledge and popularity. Connecting with them can provide a huge boost for your sales.
“Content remains one of the most important tools for creating engagement with fans and brand followers. In order to be successful, the content must relevant, interesting and engaging to a target audience. Whether the content is an image, short video, live streaming, educational post, or special offer, once it is created you can maximise it by sharing it across different platforms to capture the attention of a large audience of followers.”
“A key way to ensure content is successful is to use data to better understand your audience and how they respond to your content. Using digital analysis and employing audience segmentation models helps us to effectively produce and distribute content that connects with a target audience and drive sales conversions.”
“Providing a seamless transition from content to the shopping cart is essential for sales conversions in China. The rapid adoption of mobile payment services in China, such as WeChat Pay and AliPay, ensures online transactions are straightforward and efficient for both the consumer and company. However, it’s important that companies use the right links in the right places to ensure a positive customer experience – for example using a link to an Alibaba Tmall store in a WeChat post will result in a poor customer experience as the two platforms are incompatible.”
“Chinese consumers use WeChat Pay and AliPay for instore purchases and brands can maximise this by providing follow-up messages to customers with incentives to purchase more, recommend to friends or sign up for loyalty programmes - which is an excellent tool to keep fans interacting with your brand and buying products in the future. By providing incentives and rewards for engagement, both online and offline, brands can continue to maximise their marketing investment.”
“To achieve success, you need to be active in your target audiences’ worlds and platforms and in China that means digital and social media. While there’s more to China than WeChat and social content, this is obviously an excellent place to start."
Jessica concludes, "A key tip I share with clients is to remember that social media is a two-way communication channel, and when it comes to China, embracing this aspect can be a magical boost for your brand.”
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