Top 7 China-based Social Media Platforms for B2B Marketing
In the digital age, social media has become an integral part of our lives, connecting people across the globe. With a population exceeding 1.4 billion, China represents an enormous market potential for multinational B2B companies. China's social media platforms extend far beyond personal connections. They encompass a wide array of functionalities, including messaging, content sharing, e-commerce, and more. Leveraging these platforms effectively can drive brand awareness and growth.
Thus, understanding the nuances of China-based social media is essential for effective marketing in this vast and diverse market. This article aims to acquaint you with the top 7 China-based social media platforms, the optimal ways to leverage them, and how to develop an effective social media strategy for your business.
Top 7 China Social Media Platforms You Need to Know
With 1.2 billion active users, WeChat reigns supreme as China's most popular social media platform. Its pervasive influence is evident in the astonishing average WeChat screen time of 85.8 minutes per day for Chinese users and its consumption of 34% of cellular data. WeChat's transformation from a simple messaging app to an all-encompassing super app has revolutionized communication, socializing, shopping, and payment methods. It has truly redefined the way people engage with one another and navigate their digital lives.
WeChat's ubiquity in China has made it an indispensable part of people’s daily life. From personal communication to business transactions, WeChat offers a seamless and integrated social and lifestyle experience. It's also a powerful marketing tool and a platform for businesses looking to engage with the vast Chinese audience base.
Key Marketing Features of WeChat:
Messaging: At its core, WeChat is a messaging app that enables users to send text, voice messages, images, and videos to their network of contacts. It supports one-on-one and group chats, as well as voice and video calls. The group chat messaging function is used commonly by marketers to promote events, share knowledge and exchange resources.
Mini-Programs: WeChat features mini-programs, offering app-like experiences right within the WeChat app. These mini-programs empower businesses to seamlessly deliver interactive experiences to users, including e-commerce stores, games, and services, seamlessly accessible within the WeChat app.
Official Accounts: WeChat Official Account allows brands, media publications and individuals to build followers, engage them with valuable content, offer customer services, and promote products and services through the channel. Official Accounts can also be integrated with SCRM and mini-program to support various marketing initiatives. It’s one of the most powerful content marketing channels in China today.
WeChat Advertising: WeChat offers a range of advertising options, including Moments Ads (similar to Facebook feed ads), WeChat Official Account Ads (appear as banner format), and Mini Program Ads. These ads can be targeted to specific user demographics and interests.
Geo-Location Services: WeChat's location-based features allow businesses to send location-specific promotions and information to users. This is particularly powerful for brick-and-mortar stores and offline event promotions.
More on WeChat Marketing: The Best WeChat B2B Marketing Strategies We’ve Implemented as an Agency
Douyin, often referred to as TikTok in the international market, is a popular Chinese short video platform known for entertaining and creative content. Launched in September 2016 by the Chinese tech company ByteDance, Douyin has quickly gained massive popularity in China, with more than 600 million daily active users. Douyin is known for its wide range of app users, ranging from teenagers to young adults and seniors, penetrating tier 1 to tier 2-3 cities. The platform has played a vital role in shaping popular culture trends with internet memes and viral videos. Today, Douyin has evolved into China’s most popular livestream and short video app with e-commerce feature.
Key Marketing Features of Douyin:
Short-Form Video: Douyin focuses on short videos, typically ranging from 15 to 60 seconds in length. This format is engaging and encourages creativity, making it suitable for showcasing brand personality.
Brand Channels: Brands can create dedicated brand channels on Douyin to showcase their content, product offerings, and brand identity in a fun and engaging way. Users can follow brand channels to stay up-to-date with the company's latest content.
Douyin advertising: Douyin offers various ad formats including open-screen ads, feed ads and search ads. For B2B, search ads is probably the most cost-efficienct ad format as brands can target those who are actively searching the relevant keywords.
E-commerce Integration: Douyin supports e-commerce features that allow brands to showcase and sell products directly within the app. Users can make purchases without leaving the platform, making it convenient for brands to drive sales.
Live Streaming: Brands can host live-streaming sessions on Douyin to interact with their audience in real-time, showcase products, offer the best deals and discounts, and answer questions.
"Xiaohongshu", often known as "RED", is a popular Chinese social media and e-commerce platform that combines social networking with shopping and lifestyle content. Launched in 2013, RED has grown to become a go-to platform for fashion, beauty, travel, and lifestyle enthusiasts in China. The platform is popular among young urban Millennials, Generation Z, and the female majority. For consumers, it is a platform to share their daily lives and product comments and discover new products and lifestyle inspirations. For brands, it is a perfect platform to grow awareness and trust through word-of-mouth and KOL recommendations. Today, RED's influence has expanded far beyond being a mere lifestyle platform—it has become a hub for practical knowledge, product reviews, and company research by job seekers.
Key Marketing Features of RED:
Brand Channels: Brands can create dedicated brand channels to showcase their products, company culture, lifestyle and values, providing users with a comprehensive view of the company.
Content Sharing: Users can post photos or slideshows with a short text as well as videos related to various lifestyle topics and practical knowledge & tips. Brands can monitor trending topics and popular products on RED to inform their marketing strategy.
Product Reviews: RED is known for its extensive user-generated product reviews and recommendations. Encouraging users to share product reviews and ratings can boost a brand's credibility and help potential customers make informed decisions.
Targeted Advertising: Brands can run targeted advertising campaigns on RED to reach users with specific demographics, interests, and behaviors. These ads will appear in users' feeds, search results, or within KOL content.
Influencer Marketing: Because of its UGC(user-generated-content)-based nature, RED is one of the most popular platforms for influencer marketing. Brands can collaborate with influencers and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) on RED to promote their products and reach a highly engaged and receptive audience.
Community and Engagement: Brands can engage with RED community by responding to user’ comments and questions to foster trust and brand loyalty. In addition, brands can also do some interactive campaigns to reward the engaged followers with corporate gifts to increase engagement from time to time.
Sina Weibo, often referred to simply as "Weibo," is a microblogging platform where users share short posts, images, videos, and links. Launched in 2009, Weibo is one of the most influential and widely used social media platforms in China. As a hot hub for real-time news, trending topics, and influencer marketing, the platform has over 500 million monthly active users.
Weibo has played an indispensable role in shaping public opinion, disseminating social and political news, and fostering online communities in China. It's an essential platform for content creators, businesses, and marketers looking to engage with Chinese netizens, follow the latest trends, and tap into trends. It's wide reach and vibrant user base make it a valuable social media platform for brands seeking to navigate and leverage the digital landscape in China.
Key Marketing Features of Sina Weibo:
Weibo Official Account: Brands can create official accounts on Weibo to establish their presence and share content with followers. Verified accounts (V-certification) on Weibo are indicated with a distinguished blue "V" badge, signifying authenticity. It is recommended that brands acquire this verification to enhance credibility.
Microblogging: Similar to Twitter, Weibo allows users to post short messages of up to 2,000 characters. This allows brands to share short posts and multi-media content. By using relevant hashtags and participating in hot topics, brands can increase their content visibility and thus enhance their brand awareness.
Real-Time Updates: Weibo's real-time nature makes it suitable for spreading news, updates, and announcements in a short period of time, making it especially effective in promoting events and sharing quick event updates, as well as doing real-time Q&A with the followers.
Trending Topics: Weibo prominently displays trending topics and hashtags, providing insight into what's currently popular and allowing brands and users to join discussions on hot-button issues. Brands can participate in the trending topics by incorporating the topic in their post so their content will reach more Weibo users.
Weibo Advertising: Weibo offers a range of advertising options, including display ads, promoted posts, and video ads. These can be targeted to specific demographics and interests, maximizing the reach of marketing campaigns.
More on Weibo Marketing: Should B2B Brands Quit Weibo?
Toutiao, also known as Jinri Toutiao(今日头条) in Chinese, is a popular Chinese news and content aggregation platform and mobile app. It was developed by Bytedance, which is the same company behind Douyin and TikTok. Toutiao was first launched in 2012 and has since become one of the most widely used news apps in China with over 600 million registered users. Toutiao's success can be attributed to its ability to deliver tailored content to its users based on its powerful algorithm, keeping readers engaged with a wide array of information and social & entertainment news.
Key Marketing Features of Toutiao:
Content Distribution: Toutiao offers brands a platform to reach a vast user base by distributing various types of content such as articles, videos, and multimedia. Due to the platform’s openness and high authority on local search engines, it is widely used as a content distribution channel in addition to WeChat for the extra SEO benefits.
Personalized Content: Toutiao uses artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to provide users with personalized news and content recommendations based on their interests, reading habits, and user-generated data. This enables brands to reach target audiences with highly relevant content tailored to their interests. Brands can include relevant keywords in their content to make them more likely to appear in the content recommendations for the readers.
In-App Advertising: Toutiao offers in-app advertising options that allow brands to place ads on its platform. This includes banner ads, interstitials, feed ads and more. Brands can target specific keywords and phrases to ensure their ads appear in relevant search results and content.
Sponsored Articles: Brands can publish sponsored articles on Toutiao, which can reach a vast audience interested in a particular topic or industry.
Zhihu is a popular Chinese question-and-answer platform and knowledge-sharing community. With over 220 million registered users, Zhihu has become a leading platform for intellectual discussions, expertise sharing, and high-quality content creation in China. As a platform trusted by many subject-matter experts and industry professionals, Zhihu offers a platform for users to share and find in-depth knowledge, stories, and opinions on various subjects and fields. In addition to text-based answers, Zhihu supports multimedia content, including images, videos, and links, allowing for comprehensive and visually appealing responses.
Key Marketing Features of Zhihu:
Knowledge Sharing: Zhihu's primary focus is on knowledge sharing. Brands can answer user questions related to their industry, products, or services, positioning themselves as authoritative sources of information.
Brand Account: Brands can create official accounts on Zhihu to interact with users, share content, and answer questions related to their industry or products. In addition to answering questions, Zhihu also supports long-form articles that can be used as an additional content distribution channel for an extra boost of exposure.
Professional and Expert Contributors: Zhihu has a strong community of experts, professionals, and thought leaders who contribute valuable insights and knowledge in their respective fields. Brands can collaborate with these influencers to co-create content or participate in relevant discussions to generate buzz.
More on Zhihu Marketing: A Simple Guide to Using Zhihu for B2B Marketing in China
Bilibili is a popular video-sharing and streaming platform known for its focus on anime, gaming, and youth culture. It has a unique and engaged user base, making it an attractive platform for businesses targeting a younger demographic in China. With more than 200 million active users, Bilibili has grown to become one of China's leading online entertainment communities.
Dubbed as the “Youtube of China”, Bilibili is also by far the most influential video-streaming platform in China today for its ability to connect with the younger generation with a growing user diversity. Its mobile app today is the most popular app among Generation Z (or Gen Z) in China, followed by Douyin.
Key Marketing Features of Bilibili:
Brand Channels: Brands can create dedicated brand channels on Bilibili to showcase their content, products, and company culture.
Video Content: Similar to YouTube, Bilibili primarily features video content, including long-form videos, short videos and live streams. Brands can create engaging video content to connect with target users.
Bullet Comments: A distinctive feature of Bilibili is its "bullet comments" . Users can post real-time comments on videos that float across the screen, creating an interactive viewing experience. This interactive feature can be used creatively in marketing campaigns.
Collaboration with Creators: Bilibili attracts many young content creators from the animation, music, art, technology, and fashion fields. It provides a platform for creators in various niches to showcase their knowledge and talents. Brands can collaborate with video creators who are relevant to their niche on sponsored or co-branded video content.
Ad Campaigns: Bilibili offers various advertising options, including pre-roll and mid-roll ads, banners, and promotional videos. Similar to other social media platforms, ads can be targeted to specific demographics and interests.
Now that you're familiar with the 7 most popular social media platforms for B2B marketing, it's time to dive deeper into creating a social media strategy that aligns specifically with your business goal!
In the following section, we'll provide a comprehensive guide, walking you through each step of the process of creating your social media strategy for China.
A Step-by-Step Guide for B2B Companies to Develop A Social Media Strategy in China
Step 1: Set SMART Objectives
Begin by defining your brand goals on social media. These objectives should align with your business and marketing goal for that year. Common social media objectives for B2B brands include:
Increasing brand awareness and visibility within the industry.
Generating leads and inquiries.
Driving website traffic.
Nurturing leads and converting them into customers.
Building thought leadership and credibility in your industry.
Enhancing customer engagement and retention.
When you set your objective, its important to evaluate which stage your business is at right now, you might want to hit all of the objectives all at once, but its more likely that your budget and business priority won’t allow it. The key is to be realistic and focus on 1 or 2 goals at a time.
To set your objective effectively, use the SMART(Specific. Measurable. Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) method. Furthermore, consider outlining a long-term roadmap spanning 3-5 years. This will help you maintain focus on the most significant objectives at each stage, ensuring clarity and alignment.
Step 2: Choose The Right Platforms
The next step comes to choosing the right platform to achieve your goal. There are several factors to consider when you pick the social media platform. The first and the most important one is to have a clear understanding of your audience and their user behaviors on social media platforms. Ask yourself following questions:
Who are they?
Where do they hang out (online)?
What kind of content or information do they consume?
How do they use social media?
What keywords do they use when researching products/services?
Next, build your social media matrix that aligns with your current objectives. When doing this, it's important to consider what resources are available to you because different platforms require different content formats. For instance, Zhihu and WeChat are ideal for text-based content, while Douyin and Bilibili excel with visual or video content. Evaluate your existing content assets and your capabilities to determine the platforms.
If you have an abundance of text-based blog content, consider repurposing it for WeChat and Toutiao. On the other hand, if you have a wealth of video resources, you may consider open accounts on Douyin and Bilibili. Eventually, consistency and commitment to creating high-quality content is the key in social media marketing.
Step 3: Set Up Your Social Media Account
Setting up a social media account for B2B companies is the first step in establishing your social media presence. Here are some key considerations B2B companies should keep in mind when setting up their official social media accounts:
Prepare the application documents: Each platform has different requirements for registering an account such as business license, trademark certificate, logo/brand authorization letter, and others. Be sure to assess your platform eligibility at the outset to know what you need to be able to register an account.
Create Engaging Profiles: Optimize your profile by providing detailed information about your company, industry experience, and credentials.
Verification: Consider getting your official account verified if you meet the criteria. Verification enhances your credibility and trust-worthiness among users.
Profile Images: Use high-quality profile and cover images that represent your brand professionally. Ensure that they are appropriately sized for each platform.
Step 4: Develop High-quality Content
There’s no secret ingredient when it comes to successful social media marketing in China as in elsewhere in the world. Working with your local team to come up with a content execution plan, consider hiring a PR agency or a content marketing agency in China to create locally-relevant content. In the noisy world and vast market like China, only the content that can resonate and holds relevancy will get noticed.
Here are some popular B2B content topics on Chinese social media:
Topics related to popular industry trends
Practical content such as guides and reports
Thought leadership content
Step 5: Incorporate Paid Approach
Effective social media marketing often includes a combination of both paid campaigns and organic content to maximize audience reach and awareness. Most Chinese social media platforms offer advertising options that allow brands to accurately target the audiences of their niche. In addition to advertisements, KOL marketing is also a powerful way to engage with a highly targeted community.
Here are some tips on how to effectively integrate these two components in social media marketing:
Understand Your Audience: Research and understand your target audience's preferences, behaviors, and pain points. This knowledge will inform your ad content and advertising targeting.
Select the Right Paid Advertising Platforms: Choose the social media platforms where your target audience is most active.
Create Ad Content: Craft ad content that aligns with your campaign messages and is suitable for the chosen platform. When creating the ad, consider utilizing two or more sets of creatives to facilitate A/B testing and optimize your campaign results.
Analyze Results: Employ the results of your ads to analyze the performance of your campaigns and acquire valuable insights to optimize future ad campaigns.
Step 6: Track and Measure Results
Tracking your social media performance is critical to know if your strategy is working well or not and helps you achieve better results over time. Based on your marketing and communications objectives, you should use different measurement metrics to analyze your social media performance. Here are some common success metrics that you can track:
Likes, Comments, and Shares
Follower Growth Rate
Clicks to Website
Content Reach and Impressions
Audience Engagement by Content Type
These 7 Chinese social media platforms have revolutionized the way Chinese people connect with brands and offer enormous opportunities for businesses to reach and engage with their target audiences. B2B brands can use these platforms for marketing and branding, as well as driving engagement and conversions. However, succeeding in this unique digital ecosystem requires a nuanced understanding of each platform and tailored strategies. Contact us today and discover how we can assist you in achieving your business goals through Chinese social media.