Excellent Social Media Marketing Practices in China


While the unique Chinese market characteristics often create challenges for marketers to deal with, they don’t invalidate the principles that effective social media strategies are very helpful for business. The following examples illustrate how companies are applying some widespread social media tactics in China.

Make Content Authentic and User-oriented

Estée Lauder’s Clinique brand launched a drama series, Sufei’s Diary, with 40 episodes broadcast daily on a dedicated website. Viewers also could watch them on the screens set in buses, trains or airplanes. While skin care was part of the story line and products were prominently featured, Sufei’s Diary was seen as an entertainment programme, not a Clinique advertisement, which is why these episodes have been viewed online for more than 21 million times. Clinique’s online brand exposure is now 27 percent higher than that of its competitors, while social media content’s costs are significantly less than a traditional advertising campaign.

Adopt a Test-and-learn Approach

When Dove China first introduced the Real Beauty social media campaign to promote beauty among women of all looks and body types, Chinese consumers thought the women were overweight and unattractive. Soon Dove changed its tactics and partnered with Ugly Wudi, the Chinese version of US television show Ugly Betty, to implant the Real Beauty message into story lines, with a number of new initiatives launched, including a blog by Wudi and some live online chats. The effort generated millions of user searches and blog entries, which helped to increase the sales of Dove body wash by 21 percent YoY after the show’s first season, and increased the exposure of Dove’s Real Beauty by 44 percent among target consumers. The estimated return on investment from this social media campaign was four times that of a traditional TV media return.

To achieve brand goals, it’s necessary to keep a sustained social media effort. Starbucks China promotes the message about coffee quality, social responsibility, and community building across all its social media platforms as well as in its cafes. And Durex didn’t just establish a corporate account on Sina Weibo, as it also built a marketing team to monitor online comments around the clock and collaborate closely with agency partners for original, funny content. The company’s strategy is applied to interact with fans, generate buzz, and enhance customers’ engagement with the brand.

Here are some examples of how Starbucks is doing the online marketing in ChinaStarbucks Has a Weibo Account

Starbucks has an official Weibo account and was marketing itself on this popular social media platform. With over 500 million users, it is vital to have a presence here.

As it is summer time, the ice latte is featured as the main treat. Chinese consumers will often drink through a straw. The slogan “Falling in love with latte” is translated into mandarin Chinese, with an enlarged and elegant style of font. The interesting thing is what Starbucks is promoting online is often not the traditional coffee products we expect in the west.

Focus on Unique Ad Design for Each Different Product

Brightly colored ‘Starbucks’ brand printed on bottles is featured on the Weibo page. A range of products are promoted in China market. In the promotion, the brand tends to use different colors with brighter tones and Chinese-style graphics.

Starbucks Has Launched a WeChat Campaign

QR codes are embedded in the content shared online. By scanning the QR code, consumers have access to exclusive content with coupons and customized services. Digital promotion is released on different platforms, for example, Weibo posts including QR codes. The WeChat QR code has even been printed on the coffee cups.

Starbucks Connects with Friendship to Provide a Social Context

Sometimes, users post about their social interactions while using the hashtag #starbucks on Weibo. They like to post images of enjoying coffee with friends in a cafe, which is especially the case in China, since users particularly trust their social network (Friends and family are usually in the network).

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