How Chinese Social Media Transforms Marketing and The Role of Your Agency

By Yayi Wang

Marketing to China presents a distinct set of challenges and opportunities in a landscape dominated by platforms like WeChat and RED. 

You may think that marketing to China is as simple as tweaking your English marketing strategy to the equivalent in China, plus converting it into Chinese. But it isn’t that straightforward; marketing to Chinese consumers is more than translation. Especially given the differences in marketing platforms, expressions, culture, and consumer behaviours. There is no exact marketing ‘equivalent’ or 1 to 1 in China, so a thorough understanding of the Chinese market is required to develop a successful marketing plan.

This article will tell you why.

WeChat Official Accounts vs. Facebook Pages

WeChat, often referred to as China’s “app for all,” goes beyond being a social media platform. Its Official Accounts provide businesses with a more comprehensive set of features compared to a Facebook Page. And what truly sets WeChat apart is its integrated ecosystem.

WeChat’s “super app” model integrates various functionalities within the platform, from chatting with friends to paying bills, ordering food, watching short videos, and booking appointments. Removing the need for users to have multiple apps, WeChat keeps users within its ecosystem, making it an all-in-one app. Think of WeChat as a single app replacement for Uber, Messenger, WhatsApp, UberEats, Banking App, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

One hallmark that really stands out is that WeChat never stopped evolving. It started as a messaging app and rapidly iterated, focusing its sights on integration. So, it is not only a social media platform, but also a website, a blog page and an eDM tool. That’s why we advise clients to first register their business with a WeChat Official Account, allowing them to access all the features and improve their ability to communicate with Chinese consumers.

RED vs. Instagram

RED, also known as Xiaohongshu or “Little Red Book (LRB),” stands as a powerhouse in China’s social media landscape. It’s often likened to a blend of Pinterest, Instagram, and Reddit, offering users a platform to discover and share product recommendations, travel experiences, and lifestyle tips through visually compelling posts and reviews. Comments are a significant aspect of engagement on RED, contributing to its status as a treasure trove of user-generated content. As a result, it is an excellent resource for Product Seeding.

Unlike Instagram, which focuses on curated visual storytelling, RED thrives on user-generated content. Here, Chinese consumers share their honest product reviews and recommendations. This focus on authenticity fosters a strong sense of community trust—a stark contrast to the world of paid influencers dominating Instagram. RED empowers everyone to be a voice, creating a trustworthy experience for users seeking genuine opinions.

Another difference is how they allow businesses to sell their products. RED offers integrated e-commerce capabilities, allowing users to buy products directly from posts using the “buy now” button. It functions almost like an online marketplace. Instagram, meanwhile, employs shopping tags and in-app checkout options to capitalise on its user base for e-commerce endeavours.

Search Engine Dynamics

In the realm of search engines, Google reigns supreme in the West, but China’s regulatory environment has birthed alternative platforms. While Baidu once served as China’s substitute for Google, recent scandals have prompted a shift in consumer behaviour towards user-generated content (UGC) platforms like RED and Douyin (Chinese TikTok).

RED’s evolution as a search engine underscores the changing Chinese consumer behaviour. Its extensive database of product reviews, travel guides, and lifestyle tips has established it as a trusted source for information and recommendations, surpassing traditional search engines like Baidu.

Similarly, Douyin has also emerged as a search engine for short-form video content, entertainment, and viral trends. Its algorithm-driven feed offers personalised recommendations, transforming it into a discovery platform tailored to users’ interests.

The contrasting marketing landscapes of Western and Chinese illustrate why understanding the differences between Western and Chinese social media is crucial for businesses targeting the Chinese market. For businesses eyeing the Chinese market, understanding these nuances is paramount. 

As a leading Chinese marketing agency, Chin Communications Marketing Team specialises in developing strategies tailored to Chinese social media channels. Contact us today to unlock your pathway to success in the dynamic Chinese market.

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