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  • Writer's pictureLiz Yin

Social Media Channels to Reach Generation Z in China

Top 3 social media channels to reach Gen Z in China

For the past decade, the generational “talk du jour” has been about marketing to millennials, but now it’s time to focus on Generation Z.

Generation Z is defined as people born between 1996 to 2010 (age10-24). Last year, they surpassed the Millenials to become the largest generation, constituting 32% of the global population. In China, Gen Z makes up nearly 20% of the total population in 2019.

Unlike millennials who tend to become more rational when purchasing products and services, Gen Zers are hungry for uniqueness, and are more willing to pay for trendy products and new experiences.

In 2019, Gen Zers in China makes up 15% of China's total buying power, comparing to just 4% in the US and UK. It is expected that this number will reach 40% by the end of 2020.

With the spending power of Chinese Gen Zers continues to grow strong, its the time for marketers to develop strategies that target specifically at the lucrative consumer group.

In this blog, we'll cover the top 3 best social media platforms to reach Gen Zers in China and how you can promote your brand through these platforms.


Developed by the tech giant Tencent, QQ is one of the earliest instant messenger apps in China and was also the most popular social media platform in the 2000s before WeChat's launch.

As WeChat became more mainstream, QQ was often forgotten by users from previous generations. However, QQ is still the second-largest social media platform in China with over 940 million registered users. It is also considered as the most important social media channel to reach Gen Z consumers by many marketers in China. In 2019, the Monthly Active Users (MAU) of QQ grew over 700 million and nearly 70% are Gen Zs.

Gen Z’s private social space

There are many reasons why QQ is more popular among the Gen Zers. The most obvious one is that QQ provides a private social space where they won’t be "stalked" by their parents and teachers, who mainly use WeChat to communicate online.

In addition, QQ offers more variety of social features that are particularly attractive to Gen Zers, such as QQ Tribe”—an interest-based online community where users can share opinions under topcis they are interested and interact with other like-minded people, and Qzone—QQ's blog function that allows users to write blogs, post tweets and interact with friends. Users can also send virtual gifts to each other, invite friends to play online QQ games and watch live streaming through Qzone.

All-in-one social media platform

Similar to WeChat, QQ is also an all-in-one platform that supports integration of many other apps within Tencent’s ecosystem such as QQ music, QQ games, QQ video, QQ live stream, QQ news, QQ comics, allowing users to do different kinds of activities on QQ without switching platforms.

How to reach Gen Zers on QQ?

QQ paid ads

QQ paid ads are managed under the “Tencent Ads” platform—a centralized ad platform for marketers to publish and manage ads across all Tencent’s media platforms, such as WeChat, QQ, Tencent video, Tencent news, and Tencent browsers. Brands can choose different ad formats based on campaign objectives and budget, the most common ad forms include splash ads, display ads, feed ads, pre-roll ads., etc. QQ ads can be also linked to the brand's e-commerce landing page via JD --Tencent's strategic e-commerce partner, to provide in-app purchases.

QQ paid ads samples

Tencent ads

Organic growth

In addition to paid ads, brands can also create a brand page on “QQ Tribe” to build a community of followers and interact with them regularly. China's leading electronics brand-- Xiaomi, made a great example of how a brand can turn users into loyal fans by leveraging online community channels like "QQ Tribe".

QQ Xiaomi

Xiaomi’s Tribe page attracted over 10 million followers


Established in 2009, Bilibili is the largest ACG online community and video sharing platform in China.

Since its inception, Bilibili positioned itself as the “fairyland of Gen Zers”. By 2020, Bilibili has over 172 million MAU with 80% of its total users from Gen Z. It is also ranked NO.1 in the "Favorite Apps by Gen Zers" in a 2019 report revealed by QuestMobile.

Originated from Japan, ACG stands for “animation”,“comic” and “game”, it is the most popular subculture embraced by many Gen Zers in China today.

Comparing to other video sharing platforms in China, Bilibili has a stronger user stickiness among Gen Zers thanks to its long-established ACG community. As more users join the platform, it now expanded to provide more content variety and encourages users to create video content within all ranges of topics from beauty, finance to sports and games. Today, Bilibili has become the go-to place for free educational video content and is regarded as China's YouTube.

Unique “bullet comments” feature

What makes Bilibili so mesmerizing to Gen Zers is its unique feature called "danmu", also called "bullet curtain”, which is basically a comment function that allows users to leave real-time comments directly onto the video screen. The comments will be kept with new comments continue to be added by other users. This feature gives users a unique way to interact with other audiences and provides a fun video-watching experience.

The feature also made Bilibili the origin of many popular internet words such as “xswl” which is the abbreviation of “I am laughing to death” and “前方高能”, which means "something astonishing ahead” about the video content.


Bilibili danmu

So how can you reach Gen Zers on Bilibili?

Display ads

Unlike Youtube and other video platforms which commonly offer pre-roll ads, Bilibili doesn’t provide many ad forms besides display ads that are usually seen in the content feed. But the ad cost on Bilibili is also relatively cheaper than other mainstream video platforms in China.

Bilibili ads showcase

Bilibili display ads

KOL collaboration

Besides paid ads, brands can also gain visibility on Bilibili through KOL collaboration. KOLs on Bilibili are also called “Uploader- Up主”. On average, 1 famous uploader on Bilibili can generate 20,000 to 100,000 per video, and a top level uploader can generate 5 million views.

Bilibili KOL promoting a perfume brand

Brand sponsored video by uploader


Bilibili also provides a live stream channel that marketers can leverage to promote their products. Besides, Bilibili has recently released an e-commerce mini-program which can be directly linked under the live stream video for direct purchase on Bilibili app.

Grow fans organically

Similar to the YouTube page, brands can open an account on Bilibili and grow followers organically. Be sure to incorporate some ACG elements in the video to make it more attractive among Gen Zers on Bilibili.

DingTalk--the top video conference platform in China recently posted a video on Bilibili that went viral on social media. The video features DingTalk's brand mascot, a cute bird, begging for users to give 5-star rating on app store. DingTalk's app rating went from 5 to 1 overnight due to a large number of students "protest" for online classes and homeworks their schools gave them via DingTalk. As a result, they gave vent to their anger by leaving 1-star review on app store.

The video created as an "apology video" to these "angry" Gen Zers and immediately got 258 million views and 329,000 comments.

DingTalk's apology video preview

DingTalk's "apology video" on Bilibili

Sina Weibo

Weibo is also known as the Twitter in China and was once the most popular social media platform in China, but have been overshadowed by WeChat. Some say that Weibo is no longer an effective marketing channel, we will argue that it is still an important social media platform to reach Chinese consumers especially the Gen Zers.

For one thing, Weibo is the 3rd largest social media platforms in China after WeChat and QQ. In 2019, Weibo's MAU has reached 300 million with the Gen Zers make up 60% of its total users.

Although Weibo users don't post tweets as frequently as they used to, Weibo is a go-to channel for spotting the latest celebrity and entertainment news, which also makes it a great social media platform for celebrity endorsement.

Unlike WeChat which is built on a closed system, Weibo is a completely open social space where people can express their opinions and leave comments under others' tweets freely. Weibo's massive user base also allows marketers to reach wider audience group and attract new customers more easily.

How to reach Gen Zers on Weibo?

Grow fans organically:

Grow social media followers as a new brand on social media could be difficult, however, Weibo made it easier with a tweet promotion tool that allows enterprise users to boost their tweet exposure and reach more Weibo users. Brand can also define the target audience for the tweet by selecting user demographics such as locations, interests and the number of users they want to target.

Besides regular content sharing and tweet promotion, brand can also attract new followers through regular incentive-based campaigns. Weibo developed some interesting tools such as Weibo Lucky Draw and Weibo Polls that can be used by brands to engage their followers.

Paid Ads:

Weibo offers a variety of paid ad forms including display ads, splash ads, feed ads, and pop-up ads to capture users' attention across the Weibo platform.

Weibo is also known for its "search trend ranking-热搜榜” which allows users to see the most searched topics on the search bar on top and sidebar. This powerful feature can make any news go viral within just a few minutes. And a bonus, marketers can purchase the ranking as part of the total campaign package.

A recent successful Weibo ad campaign is Vivo's launch of the new S6 phone model. The brand partnered with a Chinese celebrity on Weibo and placed ads at each different touchpoint to reinforce brand awareness. The ad campaign eventually generated 400 million related tweets on Weibo.

Successful Weibo ad campaign by Vivo

Vivo's Weibo ad campaign during the new S6 model launch

KOL Collaboration:

Besides celebrity endorsement, brands can also partner with KOLs on Weibo to reach Gen Z consumer. Although not as effective as celebrity, many KOLs on Weibo have respectful followers. Brands can partner with multiple KOLs at the same time to increase the audience reach. The KOL fees on Weibo are usually less than other mainstream channels such as WeChat and Red.

However, marketers need to be careful with selecting KOLs. It is common for KOLs in China to buy fake followers on Weibo and other social media channels,be sure to conduct a comprehensive evaluation with each KOL account you want to partner with including the # of comments, likes and the frequency the KOLs interact with their followers.

Weibo KOL strategy

Promoted KOL content on Weibo

Now you know where to find Gen Zers in China, it's time to develop your social media marketing strategy and reach your target audience more effectively!


Are you ready to reach Gen Z

through social media in China? Contact us!


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