How to Promote your Brand on Social Media in China

In today’s digital age, social media has become an indispensable tool for brand promotion and marketing. This holds especially true in China, where the use of social media platforms has skyrocketed and is now an integral part of the daily lives of millions of Chinese consumers.

In today’s post, we will give you some tips on how to promote your brand (no matter the industry) on Chinese social media sites and attract Chinese users with appealing content, adapted to their needs and shopping habits.

Why is Social Media Important for Brand Promotion in China?

Social media has revolutionized the way brands connect with their target audience and build brand awareness. In China, social media platforms have emerged as powerful channels for brand promotion due to the vast user base and the high level of engagement among Chinese consumers.

With more than 1.05 billion internet users and over 1.2 billion mobile users in China, social media platforms provide brands with unprecedented access to a massive consumer market.

Chinese consumers are highly active on social media, using platforms to discover new products, engage with brands, and make purchasing decisions. Through social media, brands can directly interact with their target audience, build brand loyalty, and create personalized customer experiences.

Furthermore, social media platforms offer various advertising and promotional tools that enable brands to reach a highly targeted audience, resulting in increased brand visibility and potential business growth.

Growing Influence of Chinese Social Media Platforms

Chinese social media platforms have witnessed a remarkable rise in popularity and influence over the past decade. These platforms cater to the unique needs and preferences of Chinese users, creating a distinct digital landscape that differs from Western social media platforms.

Some of the most influential Chinese social media platforms include WeChat, Weibo, Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok), and Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu).

social media in China
Some of the most used social media in China

Develop a Targeted Social Media Marketing Strategy

Define Your Target Audience

When developing a brand marketing strategy, it is crucial to clearly define your target audience. Understanding your audience’s demographics, preferences, behaviors, and needs will enable you to create tailored and impactful marketing campaigns.

Conduct thorough market research, analyze customer data, and utilize customer segmentation techniques to identify specific target segments. By knowing who your target audience is, you can craft messages and select appropriate channels that resonate with them, maximizing the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Chinese social media users

Set Clear Goals and Objectives

To ensure the success of your brand marketing strategy, it is essential to set clear and measurable goals and objectives. Determine what you aim to achieve through your marketing initiatives, such as increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, generating leads, boosting sales, or enhancing customer loyalty.

Ensure that your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Clear objectives provide a roadmap for your marketing activities and help you track progress and evaluate the success of your strategy.

Research Competitors and Industry Trends

To stay competitive and differentiate your brand in the market, it is crucial to research your competitors and stay updated on industry trends. Analyze your competitors‘ marketing strategies, messaging, target audience, and positioning. Identify their strengths, weaknesses, and unique selling propositions.

This analysis will help you identify gaps and opportunities that you can leverage in your own strategy. Additionally, stay abreast of industry trends, consumer behavior shifts, emerging technologies, and market dynamics.

This information will inform your strategic decisions and enable you to adapt your marketing efforts to meet changing customer expectations and market conditions.

Case Study

Localization and Cultural Considerations

Adapt Content to Suit Chinese Preferences and Values

When promoting your brand in China, it is crucial to adapt your content to suit Chinese preferences and values. Chinese consumers have unique cultural nuances and expectations, and tailoring your messaging and imagery to align with their preferences can significantly enhance your brand’s resonance.

Conduct thorough market research and gather insights into Chinese consumer behavior, cultural norms, and popular trends. Consider factors such as aesthetics, color symbolism, storytelling techniques, and cultural references to ensure that your content resonates with your target audience and evokes a positive emotional response.

Use Mandarin Chinese in Communications

Language plays a critical role in connecting with Chinese consumers effectively. Mandarin Chinese is the official language of China and is widely understood and spoken throughout the country. It is essential to use Mandarin Chinese in your communications on Chinese social media apps to reach a broader audience and demonstrate your commitment to engaging with the local market.

This includes translating your website, social media content, advertisements, product descriptions, and customer support into Mandarin Chinese. By speaking the language of your active users in China, you establish a deeper connection with your audience and foster trust and familiarity.

Incorporate Chinese Holidays and Traditions

Chinese holidays and traditions hold great cultural significance and provide excellent opportunities for brand promotion. Incorporating them into your marketing strategy showcases your understanding and respect for Chinese culture. Identify key holidays such as Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, and Singles’ Day, and create campaigns or promotions around these occasions.

Leverage traditional symbols, customs, and festivities in your content, visuals, and promotional offers. By doing so, you can tap into the celebratory spirit, engage with consumers on a deeper level, and foster a sense of cultural relevance and authenticity.

Build a Strong Presence on WeChat

In 2023, WeChat counted over 1,2 Billion monthly active users and is the first App used in China. WeChat has to be considered by brands seeking to engage consumers directly. This Chinese social media platform allows brands to target ads according to age, gender, and region in order to reach more potential customers.

One of the most common strategies in WeChat is to offer unique content and access to special offers. Through this strategy, brands have a positive impact on consumer loyalty and help to increase brand reputation.

In April 2020, the app launched a new feature called “buy now, pay later”, helping the already growing-eCommerce segment inside WeChat become even more powerful. The feature allows users to delay their payment according to a sort of social rating system. Higher scores let users receive microloans from WeChat.

WeChat statistics

Key Considerations for WeChat Brand Marketing Strategies

WeChat Content

WeChat is totally different from the Western Social network. If you want to reach a lot of Chinese customers you have to adapt your content to their needs. Chinese customers look for rich, authentic, and relevant content. They are tired to see the same content. So, for an efficient WeChat campaign, you have to work on your content. The WeChat content marketing must be consistently good.

Brochure & Creative WeChat Posts H5

Like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…etc, on WeChat you can also make a post. This feature allows you to share all your services or products with all your followers. This is a great way to increase your visibility and engage more customers because they are very interested in innovative and creative posts.

You can publish 5 types of content such as video, text, audio, picture, and pictures with text. Actually, many brands incorporate H5 pages into their posts and official accounts. in order to optimize their WeChat and increase the quality of user experience.

Group Promotion

After the publication of your content, you have to promote it in your Community through some Wechat groups. It’s always important to be a member of some groups. You can also create your own group but make sure you have a lot of followers.

chinese social media - wechat miniprograms

Advertising with WeChat Paid Ads

If you want to succeed in your business in China, it is essential to have a sensitive and effective presence on social networks.  It’s important to understand how WeChat work and the subtleties of this mobile application.

The most familiar way for advertising on WeChat is to promote on WeChat Moments. WeChat Moment ads were launched in early 2015. WeChat Advertising is the most effective way to increase engagement in China on the nation’s number one social media tool.

WeChat Mini Programs & Mini Games

Mini programs are compact, mobile-native applications designed for various tasks such as food ordering, taxi booking, and bill payment. These programs are built on the WeChat platform and can be accessed conveniently through WeChat’s dedicated “Mini Programs” directory.

One distinctive feature of mini-programs is that they eliminate the need for installation. Users can simply open them within WeChat and immediately utilize their functionalities for seamless e-commerce experiences. Being lightweight applications integrated within WeChat, they operate swiftly and efficiently, requiring minimal storage space.

Harness the Power of Weibo

Another popular Chinese social media platform is the microblogging website called Sina Weibo. This platform is known as “Chinese Twitter” due to its similar aspect. The same as Twitter, allows members to post 140 characters including videos, pictures, and links.

Sina Weibo has around 573 million monthly and 230 million daily active users. It is ideal for brands in order to get customers’ feedback, engage in conversations with members, and promote themselves.

Weibo infographics

Since people usually go on Weibo to keep up to date on trends, news, and KOLs’ life. Brands must create marketing campaigns that are consistent with this kind of communication.

Furthermore, brands have to focus their efforts on creating relevant and highly shareable content because posts on Weibo have much more chances to become viral than long articles on WeChat. 

Weibo, one of the Chinese most famous social networks, is a must-know tool for marketers who want to engage in the Chinese digital marketing area. However, to do advertising on Weibo is not an easy thing due to its various ad options and functions.

Types of Weibo Advertising

  1. Banner Advertisements: It’s more like a backlink that leads you to the advertiser’s homepage when you click it.
  2. Weibo Search Engine Promotion: It’s a Weibo search bar that provides the hot search list and the ads search keyword will be listed on the top within the tag “promotion”
  3. Fan Headline (“Fanstop”): a popular option for advertising on Weibo, it will help to promote your account or the content you post on Weibo directly or via other famous Accounts.
  4. Fan Tunnel: It could help you target a much larger group of Weibo users. It is not hard to understand because it is based on the whole of Weibo’s users.

KOL Campaign on Sina Weibo

Influencer marketing in China is changing because now new players are taking part in this new trend. You can call them KOL (Key Opinion Leaders) or bloggers, they are the new biggest influencers in China. The performance of KOLs is closely related to their engagement with their followers. They are able to influence a lot of customers’ decisions just through their articles, posts, videos, or comments about a brand or product.

weibo lesieur kol

Leverage Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu)

Little Red Book is a social e-commerce platform with the aim to target Chinese women aged between 18 and 35 years old. This platform helps users discover and buy luxury products from overseas, share shopping tips, and swap fashion ideas. With more than 200 million active users the app has considerably gained the attention of shoppers and investors both in China and abroad.

Xiaohongshu marketing: Little Red Book app info

The site has good partnerships with many U.S., Japanese, and Korean brands, including Japanese skincare company SK-II, designers Vivienne Westwood and Anna Sui, and nutrition company GNC. Moreover, RED also has mini guidebooks for shopping in the U.S., France, and other fashion shops.

The way to work on this platform can be compared to the marketing strategy applied to Western social media Instagram. Companies must rely on Key Opinion Consumers (micro-influencers) for being successful on it since the app, before being an eCommerce platform, is a User Generated Content app.

LRB users, in fact, love to follow other people’s lives, watch make-up video tutorials, or have amazing travel experiences they can live to. So, natural content and spontaneous tips about products are more welcome than in typical marketing campaigns, such as those you can find on Weibo.

chinese social media - little red book

Embrace Douyin (Chinese TikTok)

In recent years, short videos have become the favorite way to share content with users around the world. The engagement rate rises according to this new way of sharing content. But is maybe the market entry of Douyin that has changed the rules of the “social media marketing game”?

Maybe it is, considering that the Western version of Douyin’s “TikTok” has become one of the favorite social media in many countries outside of China. The key to its success is not only the introduction of a new format, which is the shortness of the video but the particular possibility of editing a video with numerous tools. This element has been able to stimulate the creativity of the users that love to generate content in the app.

chinese social media - Douyin (tiktok)

Tips for Brands on Douyin

There are no fixed rules in this big game called Douyin, it is demonstrated that users with few followers and little content have been able to sell a huge amount of products just with the luckiness of having shared a video that becomes viral.

However, here are some suggestions to increase the chances to make your videos become viral and your brand popular:

  • Get a verified account to make your brand look more reliable
  • Post a lot of content, on the one hand, enhance the possibility of connecting with new users, on the other, grow your engagement rate
  • Working with Key Opinion Consumers or micro-influencers rather than Key Opinion Leaders can be more convenient. Considering that unknown products have been sold on Douyin just thanks to a video that becomes viral and nothing else, you should rely on many good content creators with high engagement rates, giving them free products
  • Open a Douyin store. Doing it can be useful because let the whole purchasing process becomes easier. Recently, Douyin has also added the Douyin Wallet to simplify the journey even more. By the way, you can just link your account to your Taobao online store (Taobao is investing in Douyin for acquiring traffic) or
  • Add links and banners that address users to your online stores. Your brand and also other users (so, also KOCs and KOLs) can add the link during the whole video or a full-screen banner at the end of it.
  • Personalize your content with Douyin’s unique features such as customized stickers or hashtag challenges.
  • Adapt the content to your target. The target of Douyin in China is very young too. The majority of Douyin users are young females that love to watch educational videos rather than funny ones. This is an important difference with the Western use to take into consideration.
How To Start Advertising on Douyin?

Zhihu Marketing: More than Just Q&A

Launched in December 2010, Zhihu is a Chinese question-and-answer website for Chinese internet users who want to seek expert insights into various areas. Basically started as an invitation-only Q&A platform for tech-savvy and entrepreneurial minds, it opened registration in 2013 to everyone. Since then, its topics have diversified to cover popular topics from movies, games, and culture, as well as IT and finance.

2016 was an important transition for Zhihu: they were able to monetize through the launch of new services, including institutional accounts, ads, cooperation with bookstores, and Zhihu Live.

chinese social media & q&a - Zhihu

Engage and Interact with Your Audience

Engaging with your audience is essential for building strong relationships and fostering brand loyalty. When promoting your brand on social media in China, it is crucial to respond to comments and messages promptly. Chinese consumers highly value personalized interactions and expect timely responses.

Monitor your social media platforms regularly and acknowledge and address user comments, inquiries, and feedback in a timely manner. Show genuine interest in your audience’s thoughts and concerns, and provide helpful and informative responses. Prompt and attentive communication demonstrates your dedication to customer satisfaction and can enhance your brand’s reputation and credibility.

Running contests, giveaways, and interactive campaigns is an effective way to engage and excite your audience on social media. Chinese consumers enjoy participating in activities that offer a chance to win prizes or gain exclusive benefits.

Create compelling and relevant campaigns that align with your brand’s identity and resonate with your target audience. This could include photo contests, caption contests, quiz competitions, or user-generated content challenges.

Encourage social sharing, user participation, and viral spread by offering attractive incentives and leveraging popular trends. Such interactive campaigns can significantly boost brand awareness, attract new followers, and create a sense of community around your brand.

User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful tool for brand promotion and advocacy. Chinese consumers trust the opinions and experiences of their peers, and encouraging UGC can help amplify your brand’s reach and credibility.

Encourage your audience to share their experiences, reviews, and creative content related to your brand. This could involve asking for product reviews, hosting hashtag campaigns, or featuring user content on your social media platforms.

Acknowledge and showcase user contributions, and consider offering incentives or rewards to further motivate participation. By involving your audience in the content creation process, you foster a sense of ownership and community, strengthening their connection to your brand.

pets on little red book

Monitor and Measure Performance

Track Key Metrics and Analytics

Monitoring and measuring the performance of your brand’s social media efforts is crucial for evaluating the effectiveness of your strategies and making informed decisions. Track key metrics and analytics to gain insights into your brand’s performance on social media platforms in China.

Some essential metrics to monitor include engagement rate, reach, impressions, click-through rates, conversions, and follower growth. Utilize analytics tools provided by social media platforms or third-party analytics solutions to gather data and analyze the performance of your campaigns.

Regularly review these metrics to understand which strategies are working well and identify areas for improvement.

Adjust Strategies Based on Insights

Analyzing performance metrics and insights allows you to make data-driven decisions and optimize your brand’s social media strategies in China. Identify trends, patterns, and areas of success or underperformance in your social media campaigns.

Based on these insights, make adjustments and refinements to your strategies. This could involve tweaking your content, targeting specific audience segments, modifying your posting schedule, or experimenting with different types of campaigns.

Continuously monitor and evaluate the impact of these adjustments to ensure you are optimizing your brand’s performance and achieving your marketing objectives.

Ad Spending in China Social Media-min