As social media becomes the dominant channel for marketing in China, the country’s social platforms are becoming more and more differentiated.
In the era of the Internet, ad campaigns must make multiple impressions on their targeted demographics to be successful. The advantage of social media is that consumers can voluntarily share a brand’s posts, offers, and ads, adding considerable value to a company’s investment. It comes as no surprise, then, that a recent study conducted by Milward Brown and ChinaMedia360.com found that 75 percent of all companies have launched social media advertising campaigns, and 71 percent of advertisers consider social marketing to be “very important.”
Of the numerous social media platforms now available in China, WeChat and Weibo are currently the largest, with the largest user base and most frequent use, according to “Redefinition of China’s Social Platforms – 2014,” a new report by Milward Brown and the Firefly.
The report also showed that the two platforms fulfill rather different user needs, and that social platforms in general can be divided into two categories based on consumer behavior: social tools and social media.
Social tools, like WeChat, are “designed to digitalize certain offline function and realize it through an online platform,” according to Kantar China Insights. Users seek “real-time communications” and information based on their interests through these platforms and use them with a clear purpose in mind. Connections between users on tool-oriented platforms are close, with fewer opportunities for sharing, so getting users to spread brand information can be difficult. However, social tools can be a strong channel for brands to establish deeper connections with their target audiences, allowing companies to “capture real information of their consumers more easily.”
Social media platforms, like Weibo, comprise both personal networks of users who know each other in real life and interest networks of people who share interests. In the case of the former, strong connections form; in the latter, the connections are weak. Overall, social media platforms are relatively open, with numerous opportunities for sharing brand information. They allow brands to launch expansive marketing campaigns as well as monitor market information, and can be extremely valuable channels during the early stages of marketing.
Companies looking to spread their influence through Chinese social media must take both kinds of platforms and their functions into account if they are to be successful, as “it’s common for users to have both Weibo and WeChat accounts, and realize functions of different aspects through them.”
image credit: wechat, weibo, kantar china insights