China, the world’s largest social-media market, is vastly different from its counterpart in the West.
With online mobile consumption on the rise, Asian market trends have bypassed Western platforms and jumped straight into mobile purchasing, using social media apps like WeChat and Weibo to communicate and interact with customers.
This has allowed brands the gateway to connect with prospective consumers on a more intimate level, advertising whilst they are conversing with friends, as appose to diverting attention whilst someone plays a game or reads an article.
Therefore, in an age of social media, internet and Apps, phone numbers are the Holy Grail in marketing. Here there is a genuine person linked to the number and a conversion of one to one in terms of marketing numbers. This form of 1-to-1 communication with a real customer on the other end is the number one priority for brands looking to bridge the offline and online relationship they have with consumers.
WeChat in China is a great example of an App that bridging such divisions. It allows brands to advertise their products whilst the consumer is socializing or making plans. What’s more important is that the odds of the consumer being a spam account is extremely rare, as WeChat is linked to one’s mobile phone and has to be set up by an actual person. Thus, one would have to purposefully buy a sim card in order to create a spam account.
“For the China market, we have decided to get in direct contact with our target audience by leveraging the WeChat platform. Connecting with these fans through their phone number is building a much more intimate relationship and allows us to provide content that will be more tailor-made and segmented. “says the head of the digital at Clarins.
If you think that you are familiar with Western social network marketing so that you can do it in China as well as in the West. It is definitely wrong. Because there is no Facebook, no Google, no Twitter, etc in China. They are all blocked by China’s Great Firewall.
Moreover, social media and e-commerce platforms, and many tools are much more advanced than those in the West: for example, Chinese users were able to embed multimedia content in social media more than 18 months before Twitter users could do so in the United States.
If you want to engage the Chinese consumer, you have to understand how their marketing channels work and change your ideas that you have in other countries, because here in China, things are different.
Social media is still a minefield when it comes to legitimacy. On Facebook products and adverts rely on likes, comments, and shares to increase popularity. However, friends usually affiliate on social media with people who like the same things as them. Thus, it can be hard for companies to break the bubble and enter their products into new pockets of consumers. As well as these likes and comments are hard to quantify with the issue of spam accounts and those simply no longer using the platform.
Social platform Weibo has suffered greatly from such issues. They averaged that less than nine percent of Weibo users are “active”, so whilst its ecosystem has 650 million users it’s difficult to estimate how many are being connected with brands and marketing. Social platforms are not the only ones suffering to estimate their reach.
Email is just as difficult due to many people using secondary email addressed for signing up on websites. Most people have one email that they use for work and connecting with people and then use a secondary email to sign up for gaming websites, dating apps, and food stores. Thus, advertisement emails are being sent but not opened, whilst the other email more active email is unreachable.
Moreover, Chinese people don’t like and don’t have the habits to use emails for affairs, not like in Western countries.
Use Wechat to emulate Email Marketing in China
This new form of marketing allows brands to market directly to consumers at the right moment. If the weather suddenly drops in the north of China, clothing companies are able to advertise directly to consumers that are in need of warm attire. Simultaneously if the weather peaks in the south, the same company can advertise lighter wear.
Phones are specific to a location primarily and being used constantly throughout the day. Many people in China activate social media to upload a status or photo every few hours, or every few minutes. Phones are a constant for most people, whether it’s to connect with their social groups, do business, or shop.
Yet despite these advantages, brands still need to identify Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), advertising to the right people at the right time, as well as understanding market trends in specific locations. It is time to strike whilst the iron is still hot for marketing and branding companies, to mobile-based advertising. The trends of consumers are shifting and brands need to shift with them or be left out in the cold.
KOL marketing is now an international phenomenon in marketing strategies, but it is extremely efficient in China. With the development of the Internet and the live-streams, KOL marketing combined with live-stream has developed to the fullest in China.
For example, the most famous cosmetic KOL in China is Li Jiaqi, who has sold 15.000 lipsticks in just 5 minutes during his live-stream.
Therefore, if this tool is appropriately used, it can be served as a powerful way to boost your brand awareness and gain traffic.
Do you need inspiration or advice about creative and innovative social media marketing?
GMA, an expert in Chinese social media marketing, has more than 7 years of experience in the sector.
We are an innovative digital agency with more than 50 marketing experts from all around the world including China. We have helped many local and international companies to develop their digital marketing strategies in China.
China is not impossible, you just have to adopt the right tool to develop marketing, branding and communication to Chinese consumers.
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