Social media has become quite the global sensation, giving brands more ways to grow their presence across borders. With the rise in Chinese social media, companies have more opportunities than ever to expand their reach.
Similar to its Western counterparts, Chinese social media spans from instant messaging apps to microblogging to discussions and business reviews, all of which mean more paid advertising options!
Mainland China is not only the world’s largest social media market – it also boasts an incredibly rich and diverse online landscape. After all, over 800 million Chinese internet users are looking for a place to share their opinions, ask for product recommendations, and connect with others.
Why is Chinese Social Media Important?
According to a Chinese government study, 802 million people in Mainland China are now active internet users, compared with the US’s estimated 300 million internet users. Mainland China also has an incredible level of mobile penetration of 98% among the internet users. The sheer size of the Chinese internet community makes it critical to dedicate time and energy to tracking trends on social media.
How People in Mainland China Use Social Media
Mainland China’s social media audience is large enough for companies and brands to carve out a following that may be as large as entire countries elsewhere. Diversification is one thing, as each top Chinese social media caters to a very specific audience, some being more communication-focused, while others serve multipurpose. In short, competition is fierce in the Chinese social market – companies need to be very creative to make an impact.
8 Most Popular Social Media Apps in Mainland China
The shortlist below provides the best marketing opportunities:
- Sina Weibo
- TikTok (aka Douyin)
- Tencent QQ
- Baidu Tieba
- Tencent Video
- Little Red Book (aka Xiaohongshu)
1. Sina Weibo
As a Twitter-like microblogging platform, Weibo users can post text contents, images and emojis; tag other users, hold one-to-one conversations, create Stories (kind of like Instagram Stories), and add hashtags.
WeChat is probably one of the most recognizable names in the Western world – an all-in-one super-app offering ride-hailing, direct-messaging, video chats, ticket sales, and so much more.
3. TikTok (aka Douyin)
Here’s a name you’ll probably recognize outside of Mainland China – quickly shot to fame in the US with its short videos, quirky dances, and loads of easy-to-use video editing features. It’s one of the biggest Chinese social media platforms to date, with more than 1 billion monthly active users around the world, mostly Gen-Z and Millennial individuals, and self-created influencers.
4. Tencent QQ
Another micro-blogging site similar in function to WeChat. However, a key difference is you don’t need to register with a phone number.
5. Baidu Tieba
While it might not be well known in Western countries, Baidu Tieba has a total number of registered internet users surpassing 1.5 billion, making it a top network for brands to consider.
Since Baidu Tieba has the backing of the search engine Baidu, its content ranks extremely well in search. It’s ideal for keyword-based content, as well as question-and-answer content and interactive content.
6. Tencent Video
Another video-sharing Chinese social media platform, it recently overtook its once-stalwart competitor, Alibaba Youku, and now sees more than 400 million monthly active users in Mainland China.
Zhihu is a question-and-answer social media site. It’s similar to Quora in that questions are posted, answered, and edited by members of its community.
Users of Zhihu include entrepreneurs, speakers, and other professionals who aim to showcase their expertise in various subject matters. It’s aimed at Chinese netizens and marketed as a source of knowledge. Users can upvote answers they think are the best, which helps those answers (and the users that provided them) gain more exposure.
Zhihu offers two levels of paid membership, both of which give users access to tons of webinars, e-books, and other content.
8. Little Red Book (aka Xiaohongshu)
Our list of Chinese social media channels wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Little Red Book. Originally built as a platform for user-generated content, Little Red Book has now become a primary source of information when buying decisions are at stake. It’s more sales-oriented in that many of its users are actively searching for new products and brands. An ideal place to grow brand awareness and word-of-mouth marketing among Chinese consumers.
How You Can Leverage Chinese Social Platforms
Start by creating bespoke content such as offering flash sales on WeChat, using KOLs on Xiaohongshu, and targeting Zhihu users with niche product offers.
Very recently, Xiaohongshu began offering its “brand partner platform”, a service where brands can be connected with influencers to arrange for sponsored content.
Not sure where to begin? Register for our upcoming HKTDC Digital Academy webinar on May 31 2023, where Mr Carri Yeung, MarTech platform MemePR’s Assistant Director of Strategic Development will analyse online marketing trends in Mainland China for the second half of 2023 and help SMEs explore Xiaohongshu strategies for more business opportunities.
Conducted in Cantonese only, this webinar will cover:
- Latest online marketing trends in Mainland China
- Playing Around KOLs, Shorts & Text Contents
- How B2B SMEs make use of Xiaohongshu
- Free AI Tools recommendations
- Case Studies
Grab your seat fast by clicking below:
This article is originally published by Meltwater:
Meltwater provides social and media intelligence. By examining millions of posts each day from social media platforms, blogs, and news sites, Meltwater helps companies make better, more informed decisions based on insight from the outside. Learn more at meltwater.com.