As more millennials enter the workforce, e-commerce sites gain traction, and the share economy expands, Chinese social media networks like WeChat, Douyin, and Xiaohongshu have never been more important – especially to PR professionals, marketing executives and social media buyers working to promote brands, products and people online.
And with more than 770 million active Chinese internet users engaging in conversations, sharing stories and creating content every day – and the average Chinese adult spending 6 hours a day digesting news media – there has never been a better time to explore the power of social, big data and consumer insights.
But with so much going on online, and so little time to perfect a communications strategy offline, how do you know where to start? How do you know what to look out for or what trends to keep an eye on?
Making use of intelligent and automated media monitoring software like Meltwater is one effective and proven way to stay up-to-date with your market, target audience and consumers.
However, to kickstart your thinking, here’s a list of the top four social media trends I see reshaping greater China over the next 12 months:
Thanks to video and photo sharing platforms like Douyin, the desire to know more about the lives of our friends, the brands we buy from and the Key Opinion Leaders we follow has increased dramatically. However, today, keeping consumers up-to-date with what you’re doing – and therefore satisfied with your level of B2C engagement – can be a challenge. That’s why short media clips and live streaming videos on platforms like Douyin and Tudou have become so popular over the last year. These types of videos enable brands to share real-life, real-time content with consumers, who can then comment, like and share the video with their friends in real-time.
China has the largest e-commerce market in the world – and it’s only set to grow over the next few years. So as the gap between social media networks like WeChat and e-Commerce platforms like Alibaba shrinks – thanks to social media payment platforms such as Alipay and WeChat Pay – converting social media users (or consumers) to paying customers is only going to get easier in China. In fact, Alipay and WeChat Pay are now the most popular forms of online payments in China – with WeChat Pay attracting more than 600 million users every month. In addition to this, the increasing number of e-commerce shopping festivals like 11/11 are having a major impact on new brands entering the market, or existing brands looking to test new products.
Search engines like Baidu aren’t the only platforms consumers use to find products and services anymore. Today, they also use social media platforms – and the recommendations of KOLs – to find relevant information and items they might like to purchase. So instead of visiting a website, or searching the brand name on Baidu, they will simply search for the brand’s online social media profile to read fellow consumers’ comments and recommendations. Employees and employers are also using social media to network and find out more about individuals and organisations.
Since the advent of the smartphone, Chinese consumers have become increasingly reliant on digital platforms and applications to live their lives. Today, consumers no longer rely on traditional news platforms like print, radio, TV and even news websites to find out what’s going on around them. Instead, they digest their news media via mobile applications and on social media. In fact, the average mobile internet user in China spends 12 minutes a day reading the news on an application, 30 minutes watching video content, and 2.5 hours on social media. As mobile and social become deeply ingrained in our lives, these figures are likely to increase significantly.