Five Truths and Misconceptions about Social Media in China
China’s inexorable rise is well documented. It’s not just the world’s fastest growing economy, it’s also home to the world’s fastest growing online population with over 649m users, outnumbering the entire US population two to one.
What do these mobile users do online? They chat, review products and shop… a lot!
For more information, n dowload our State of Mobile Marketing in China report.
Stating the obvious, the growth of IM platforms goes hand in hand with the growth of mobile. And its growth with serious clout, perhaps best evidenced by Facebook’s recent $19bn acquisition of IM super-platform Whatsapp.
Whatsapp might be riding high with over 700m active users but China’s WeChat is still the go-to IM platform in Asia, so popular in fact that Kik’s CEO, Ted Livington, has even stated that his company wants “to be the WeChat of the West.”
So what’s the difference? Whatsapp and WeChat might both be instant messengers but that’s where the similarities start and end.
WeChat is also a social network, a social media app and an extendable transactional platform. It gives its users the opportunity to shop, talk to brands, order taxis (its ‘Didi Dache’ service is essentially China’s UBER) and read the news.
Western IM companies are taking note. Tango has added a shopping tab to its service offering and Snapchat has recently introduced news section, ‘Discover.’
Though you might not be able to access platforms like Facebook and Twitter, or watch videos of grumpy cats on YouTube in China, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a vast, comparable and thriving social media network over there.
Social media platforms in the West are relatively clear cut, with fairly little competition. LinkedIn is the sole option for building work networks, Facebook is largely for friends and family, YouTube for sharing and watching content from strangers around the world, but China does things differently.
For one thing there’s plenty of competition and for another, while Western platforms are largely aimed at connecting people who already know each other, Chinese platforms were initially popularized by enabling anonymous friendships.
The YouTube of China is Youku Tudou.
And, as previously mentioned, WeChat is huge.
On top of those platforms there’s also over 800m active users on QQ, 600m+ on blogging site, Qzone, millions more on Tianya and plenty of other channels besides, all interest-driven and collectively starting to replace traditional news media for many users.
Youku Tudou differs greatly to YouTube in that it’s known for longer, more in-depth videos. This works for the Chinese market. Its 40m weekly unique users spend, on average, over an hour a day on the site. The amount of time that people spend on YouTube is around 25 mins.
YouTube is currently testing the water and dabbling with original content. Youku is far beyond that stage. In March it announced that it was doubling its original content budget to $98m, and more brands than ever are curating content, advertising and engaging customers with the video giant.
In the West, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a big deal. You might assume they’re popular in China as well. They aren’t.
It would be absurd to say that a $3.5bn spend across two days last year is small change, but when you compare it to China’s Singles Day, which last year reached the astronomical heights of $9.34bn in sales, it pales in comparison. And this figure is only set to grow.
Singles Day really highlights the power of the internet in China. The country with 90% internet penetration is obsessed with surfing the web. China is more than comfortable communicating with brands, and it loves buying from them.
JD.com, China’s largest personal-electronics e-tailer, is one example of a brand that has leveraged its partnership to make the purchase experience run smoothly within WeChat and QQ, which resulted in staggering conversions.
For more information, download our report The State of Ecommerce in China.
Today, understanding how China’s social ecosystem works is fundamental to driving success in that market. Chinese consumers have embraced the digital world and they expect companies to do the same.
Understanding the customer decision journey is critical for brands to be effective in every market and a localized, targeted approach is the best way to win hearts and minds, whether your company is from China, the US or anywhere else.
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