With over 970 million users, China is the world’s biggest social media market and represents a huge opportunity for international brands to connect with Chinese consumers.
A recent report by eMarketer revealed that in 2021, China is expected to see 52% of retail sales via online channels like WeChat, Douyin etc.
So what are the most popular Chinese social media apps, and what does effective Chinese social media management involve?
Let’s dive right in.
The most popular Chinese social media sites
Before we get into our top tips for Chinese social media management, here’s a breakdown of the most popular Chinese social media apps.
With over 1.2 billion monthly active users, WeChat is China’s biggest social media app, and one of the biggest apps in the world.
On WeChat, users can:
- Chat with their friends in private messages.
- Create group chats.
- Play games.
- Follow official accounts.
- Upload to WeChat Moments and WeChat Channels.
- Use WeChat mini-programs (such as e-commerce and coupons).
WeChat differs from other Chinese social media apps in that it’s a very closed platform — users can only interact with their own social circle, and its purpose is to connect with friends, not to grow a social following.
Despite this, WeChat is still a major commercial engine. In fact, WeChat mini-programs alone generate around $117 billion a year.
Who uses WeChat?
Just over half of WeChat users in China are under the age of 30, but there is a substantial portion (19%) that are 41 or older. In terms of gender split, 64.3% of users are female, and 35.7% are male.
Weibo (also known as Sina Weibo) is China’s third-largest social media platform, attracting 550 million active monthly users.
Often compared to Twitter and Instagram, Weibo is a microblogging platform where users can share text, images and videos to their profiles. They can also broadcast their own livestreams and update their stories.
Unlike WeChat, Weibo is a very open platform where users can discover and interact with as many other users as they want to.
The vast majority of users (94%) access Weibo via their smartphones, and in 2018, over 40% of the Chinese internet population used the platform.
Who uses Weibo?
40% of Weibo users are between 23-30 years old, and 57% are male.
Douyin is a Chinese viral video sharing platform that’s become one of the biggest social media apps in the world. The popular app TikTok is the international spin-off of Douyin.
Just like on TikTok, Douyin users can share short videos of themselves, broadcast live streams, comment on videos, follow accounts, and send private messages to their friends.
As China’s biggest short video app, Douyin has over 400 million daily active users and attracts over 20 billion views a day.
Who uses Douyin?
As is the case with TikTok, Douyin has a very young and female-leaning user base — 80% are under the age of 30, and 65% are women. Over 60% have college degrees, and over 40% are young professionals living in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities in China.
QQ (or Tencent Mobile QQ) is the most popular instant messaging platform in China, with over 860 million monthly active users. It’s China’s second-biggest social media app and is the seventh biggest social media site in the world.
On QQ, users can…
- Message friends.
- Create groups.
- Play games.
- Play music.
- Read news updates.
Who uses QQ?
QQ is the most popular social media app among young Chinese people — 60% of all users are under the age of 30, and 50% were born after the year 2000. 71% of users are male, too, which makes it one of the best platforms to target young, male consumers in China.
Finally, XiaoHongshu — or Little Red Book — is an innovative social commerce platform in China where users post beauty product reviews and connect with luxury brands and other consumers.
XiaoHongshu has approximately 300 million users and is China’s biggest cross-border shopping app, making it ideal for international brands looking to reach Chinese consumers.
Who uses XiaoHongshu?
XiaoHongshu’s users are 85% female, and almost 60% are under the age of 24. Users also have higher disposable incomes than on other Chinese social media apps.
The 3 most important elements of Chinese social media management
Here are our top tips for mastering the fundamentals of Chinese social media management.
1. Account creation for Chinese social media
To connect with Chinese social media users, you’re going to need official brand accounts on each of the main social channels in China. This can be a time-consuming and tricky task, especially if you are located outside China.
You’ll need to navigate complex Chinese interfaces and provide a wide range of documentation, such as:
- Your business registration documents.
- Administrator ID.
- Legal representative ID.
- Authorization letters.
That’s why it’s always worth teaming up with a local partner who can handle the Chinese social media account creation process for you.
At AdChina.io, we can create a wide range of social media accounts, including Weibo, Douyin and WeChat official accounts — three of the most important accounts you’ll need.
Get in touch with us to find out more, and check out these guides for a step-by-step breakdown of the account creation process on each platform:
2. Content creation for Chinese social media
For success on Chinese social media, you can’t just translate your domestic strategy into China. You’ll need a whole new approach that taps into Chinese culture and authentically connects with Chinese consumers.
To do that, you should:
Watch your language
When KFC first launched in China, they didn’t realize their famous slogan (“finger lickin’ good”) translated to “eat your fingers off” in Chinese. Needless to say, the reaction wasn’t great.
If you want to connect with Chinese consumers, you need to speak their language — and accurately, too. Don’t rely on Google translate. Instead, work with a local Chinese content creator to guarantee you’re always getting it right.
Show an understanding of Chinese culture
Your Chinese social media content should reflect the lives, values and culture of your Chinese followers. That way, they’ll feel connected to your brand and more likely to trust and care about what you’re saying.
A great example of an international brand getting this right is Burberry, who, for Chinese New Year 2020, developed a cute cartoon character on WeChat called “Ratberry” in celebration of the year of the rat.
Adapt to Chinese users
Chinese social media users behave differently than what you might be used to. They enjoy live-streaming more than any other demographic and like to read and share product reviews on social media more than US and UK users.
To be successful, it’s your job to mould your Chinese social media strategy around these traits and to make sure your content taps into them.
3. Campaign management for Chinese social media
Preparing to launch a new social media campaign in China? Here’s what you need to think about…
The customer journey in China
You need to be sure that your campaign is going to reflect the ways Chinese users become customers in China. This includes…
- Recognizing the power of recommendations and reviews.
- Understanding KOL (influencer) marketing.
- Experimenting with new forms of content, like live-streaming.
Check out our guide on the customer journey in China to find out more.
Your China market entry strategy
Before you launch a Chinese social media campaign, your China market entry strategy has got to be fully-formed.
You’ll need to know…
- What your goals are.
- How you’re going to achieve them.
- Who your target market is.
- Your legal status in China.
- How you’re going to handle logistics.
And that’s just scratching the surface.
Check out these articles for a little helping hand:
- How to create a successful China market entry strategy
- Registering a company in China – A Step by Step Guide
- How to create a Chinese version of your website
The channels best suited to your brand
Success on Chinese social media can look different from brand to brand. In other words, you need to make sure your social campaigns are on the right channels, in terms of your brand’s specific goals, budget, and target market.
This article provides an in-depth look at the benefits of each of the main channels in China. Give it a read to get started on the right track.
How AdChina.io can help supercharge your Chinese social media management
AdChina.io is an all-in-one tool that lets you advertise on each of the main Chinese social media apps through an English-language platform you can trust. Say goodbye to complex interfaces and confusing language barriers, and say hello to seamless social media in China.
We also offer end-to-end account creation and content marketing packages, where our team of native experts will handle your Chinese social media management for you.
Create your free AdChina.io account, and put your Chinese social media management in safe hands.