China is the world’s most populated country with a whopping of 1.357 billion people. For businesses, this also represents the largest pool of social media users in the world with about 618 million Internet users, according to the statistics from China Internet Network Information Center. So this means almost half of the Chinese population use the Internet. This sounds like good news for businesses; however, the Chinese government has instituted a strict system that controls Internet usage in the country and has also blocked access to many Western social media networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Gmail, YouTube and Instagram through the Great Firewall of China. But there is an up side, the country has its own social media platforms which are just as successful as the Western ones. The Chinese Internet platforms include WeChat, Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, QQ, Qzone, RenRen, Youku and Tudou among others.
“Weibo” means microblog in Chinese. This platform is considered as the “Twitter of China”. Interestingly Sina Weibo has more users than Twitter, and the users are actually almost twice as active of those on Twitter. 22% of the Chinese Internet users are actually on Weibo. According to statistics, Sina Weibo had 167 million monthly users in the month of September 2015, and a large number of the active members are young people between the age of 18 and 35 years. Sina Weibo allows users to include images and videos in their text. Also, Weibo is a very friendly platform for businesses, as they can promote their businesses through video and live broadcast.
Tencent Weibo is quite similar to Sina Weibo in functionality and the demographics of its users. Just like on Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo users can share photos, videos and text. Tencent Weibo has about 200-250 million users. The major difference between the two is that Tencent is built on the QQ Instant Messaging platform, and with a QQ account, a user can access Tencent services.
This is a mobile voice and text application, formerly known as Weixin. WeChat users can chat with friends instantly via voice messages, texts or images. The platform allows users to create group chats and to chat with several friends at the same time. WeChat has more than 100 million users, and it is growing by the day at a very fast rate. It is also literally giving all other platforms a run for their money.
Businesses can greatly enhance the marketing of its products and services in China by using Chinese social media platforms. Here are a few benefits:
– Improve brand recognition due to the high reach social media offers
– An improved relationship and trust with your followers and/or customers
– Improve brand reputation
– Increase website traffic
– Increase customer service and brand loyalty
– Improve crisis management
– Better monitoring and customer research
WeChat is fast becoming popular in China and the world. Compared to the other two popular Chinese social platforms, WeChat has a greater business advantage. This network is way ahead of competition in terms of the features it offers. More and more users are abandoning Weibo for WeChat. So what gives WeChat a competitive advantage over the rest?
WeChat is fully mobile. Its functionality and user controls are fit for mobile use. Weibo, however, is more suitable for desktop, and using it on a mobile phone is less friendly compared to WeChat. In a world where mobile phones have become an important social tool, the ability for a business to leverage a popular social network on such devices is definitely an advantage for WeChat.
QR codes are very popular in China, and WeChat has integrated QR codes as a service. Businesses can easily make use of this service to further reach out to their customers.
WeChat has fantastic add-ons that are quite popular with users. For instance, users can easily pay for services, call a taxi, make purchases and much more within the WeChat application. Businesses can now advertise their products and send coupons directly to their WeChat subscribers via messages.
WeChat has leveraged the popularity of QQ, a desktop messaging platform by enabling users to merge their QQ contacts with WeChat, and they can even cross talk using the two platforms at the same time. By leveraging QQ, WeChat is able to acquire a large user base by reaching out to QQ’s 800 million subscribers.
WeChat, a Chinese social media platform, is expanding globally and has become a household name outside China, and thus increasing its appeal for businesses. Currently WeChat has a smaller fan base compared to Sina Weibo, but the application has far better content quality, and the fan base is more real in making more engagement than on other platforms.
The biggest reason why WeChat is popular for businesses is because brands can geo-target their audiences and categorise people according to their gender and locations. When using WeChat for businesses, here are a few tips on how to succeed:
A verified account conveys trust, so ensure that you use a verified WeChat account. A verified account will also make your content richer and more popular, leading to more shares and followers.
Take advantage of WeChat membership functionality and convert your members to followers. You can do this by issuing your members with a virtual VIP card, sending notifications to members about your promotional offers, offering them e-coupons and so on.
Get a QR code for your business and let people access it on WeChat. You could do this by adding your QR code on your packaging.
Internet users view photos more than they do text, so make sure you share your brand photos on WeChat. Make sure you use high quality photos that represent your brand effectively. Remember to showcase your logo.
At the same time, companies cannot completely neglect the advantages of using Weibo. The following are tips of how to use Weibo for business.
Content is very important when it comes to online engagement. Content is what keeps your followers hooked to your page, therefore it has to be the right content. Rich content will give you huge extra credit, so make sure you offer your followers content that will entertain them, inform them and educate them. In simple words, content that will be useful to them.
Timing is very important when you are posting content. You have to be aware when your followers are the most active on Weibo so that you can achieve maximised content reach. Thus, update your content regularly and post it when users are the most active.
It is very important to know how your posts are performing, so you can tell whether your efforts are making any returns. Monitoring is important because it makes you aware of what is working and what is not.
With such a vibrant social media market, companies operating in China have great opportunities to easily reach out to consumers. It would therefore be a mistake for businesses to ignore China’s social media market.