It is vital to understand the dynamics of the exploding social media space in China if your company plans to engage Chinese consumers.
According to McKinsey’s survey*, Chinese social media sites are already nearly as important as web portals, such as Sohu (the largest Chinese portal), Sina, NetEase and Yahoo.
Not only having the world’s largest Internet user base of 513 million people, China also creates the world’s most active environment for social media. 300 million Chinese internet users spend more than 40 percent of their online time engaging with social media. In addition, social media has greater influence on purchasing decisions of consumers in China than in other countries. Chinese consumers are more willing to buy a product if it was endorsed on a social media site and the recommendations by their friends may facilitate an actual purchase.
It seems that social media optimisation (SMO) will lead to greater success in search engine optimisation (SEO) in China.
Chinese Social Media Platforms
However, Chinese internet users have no access to “Facebook” and “Twitter”. Instead, they rely heavily on local social media sites. Here are the networking sites to focus on:
- Twitter-like: TencentWeibo and SinaWeibo. The latter one gets most of the media attention, both in China and around the world.
- Facebook-like: Tencent’sQZone, Tencent’sPengyou, Renren, and Kaixin all focus around a mix of social profiles, albums, buddies, and social gaming.
- Whatsapp-like: WeChat is one of a number of Asia-made messaging apps – like Line and KakaoTalk – that are battling to get onto the smartphones of young Chinese and Southeast Asian web users.
Great Potential of Social Media Optimisation in China
As social networking has boomed, social media is becoming significantly important in online marketing in China. Today, brands can easily obtain information such as engagement level, reach amplification, frequency, co-citations, demographic relevancy, historic amplification, authority circles, etc. from social media. These metrics make data more visible and help brands to improve their website and social media strategy.
In addition, it seems that social media optimisation (SMO) will lead to greater success in search engine optimisation (SEO) in China. SMO focuses more on user experience, the quality of the content and the authority of the author. Internet users are invited to communicate and respond to these interactions. In a word, SMO can generate traffic from both direct social site referrals and from search engines, which can improve SEO performance.
* Cindy Chiu, Davis Lin, and Ari Silverman, (May 2012) China’s social-media boom