More brands are realizing the untapped potential of marketing in China. China offers one of the largest audiences for social media marketing with over 721 million Internet users. China is a different demographic though, where consumers use different social media platforms and engage in different ways. Not understanding these differences causes many foreign brands to stumble when entering this market. Here are 7 common mistakes that brands often make when trying to market on Chinese social media and how to avoid them.
1. Using the Wrong Social Media Platform
Social media is massive in China. Over 40% of Chinese people spend their day on social media, and the majority of Internet use happens on these platforms. Just like using Western social media platforms, the key to reaching your target audience is using the right platform. Creating an account for a Chinese social media platform that you don’t update regularly or doesn’t benefit your brand can be detrimental. Most brands looking to market in China should create WeChat and Weibo accounts but there are a number of other popular Chinese social media platforms, so be sure to research them and only create accounts for the ones that will benefit your brand.
2. Not Engaging or Posting Enough
One big difference between Western consumers and Chinese consumers is the value they place on customer experience. Over 89% of Chinese consumers feel that any retail interaction should be tailored to their individual needs and requirements. In other words, don’t think that sending out a generic post will work. Consumers in China want individual engagement, so respond to their posts and answer their questions. Social media is a unique form of marketing in that brands and users can directly interact with each other, so take advantage of that and make those connections with your consumers.
The frequency of posting also needs to be considered. Just like with Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter posting too much on Chinese social media can annoy audiences causing them to unfollow you. Posting too little could result in audience forgetting about you. Brands need to find the middle ground, which differs depending on the platform. In general, posting 1-5 time a day on Weibo and 1-5 time a week on WeChat is recommended.
3. Failing to Optimize Content for the Region
China is a completely different audience than Canada or the United States. They interact differently, have different expectations, and use different platforms. It only makes sense then that the content you create and your marketing strategies should be adjusted too. What works in Canada might not work in China. You may have to play around with content for a bit in the beginning before finding what works for your brand. Take a look at your competitors and see what’s working for them.
4. Using Poor Translations
Google Translate has come a long way, but we don’t recommend relying on it if you’re serious about Chinese social media marketing. Native Mandarin speakers can easily spot brands that use computer translations, and it rubs them the wrong way. Many big brands have had huge marketing fails because they failed to double-check their translations. If you really want to succeed in Chinese social media marketing, having a native speaker write your content or approve your marketing material is a smart idea.
5. Not Incentivizing Users
If you want to gain followers and engagement on Chinese social media, simply posting and sitting back isn’t going to work. Brands need to give consumers a reason to stay engaged with them online. In this way, Western and Chinese consumers are alike. The most successful social media marketing happens when you offer exclusive deals, promotions, or discounts to users. Let your followers be the first to know about a new product, give out special deals, or tease exciting events. In other words, give users a reason to follow you.
6. Failing to Understand Local Laws and Policies
Certain things cannot be said online in China. China practices censorship, and failing to comply with local censorship laws can land brands in hot water. It can result in a ban from social media platforms, or even fines and jail time. Most brands probably won’t run into issues, but discussing hot topic issues like the government is a big no-no in China. Make sure you educate yourself on what can and can’t be said before beginning social media marketing.
7. Under-Utilizing QR Codes
QR codes never really took over in Canada and the US. They’re made somewhat of a comeback recently but where they really thrive is in China. By scanning QR codes with their mobile phones, consumers can instantly connect with brands, online promotions, or exclusive offers. This creates an effective bridge between offline and online marketing. QR codes can easily be included on anything physical, and are widely used by brands in China. Using them in the right way can really boost your online marketing.
Navigating a new market can be daunting. Missteps are expected, but by avoiding making these common mistakes and with our help your brand can thrive. Once brands understand what Chinese social media users want and need, they can create a successful social media marketing campaign. If you have any questions or want to learn how we can help feel free to contact us.