How many people use zhihu

Marketing in China: Convince with social media

The Chinese market is not only the largest in the world, it is also considered to be particularly competitive. In order to stand out from the competition and make their own company, brand or product visible, communicators should increasingly rely on social media: Most of the almost 1.4 billion Chinese love social networks - but not those from the western world. The highly digitized country, in which 800 million people are already online, preferably with their smartphones, has its own Internet greats. Depending on the industry, product or service, advertisers can address their target groups with targeted marketing activities on social media. But which channels are suitable for what and how exactly can companies use the general online affinity? The following six social networks promote German companies in China.

WeChat - the ultimate marketing tool

Advertise and sell products, offer customer support services and intensify the target group dialog - WeChat can do this and much more. Tencent's mega-app, which combines social media, e-commerce and payment, is the focus of their online activities for more than 1 billion users. WeChat has developed into a marketing tool par excellence not only for corporations, but also for small and medium-sized companies. With mini programs, i.e. light apps in the WeChat ecosystem, or their own WeChat shops, companies have a wide range of design options to enable consumers to have a seamless customer journey and to increase their own performance.

Weibo - tweet in Chinese

After WeChat, Weibo is the second most popular social medium in China: Currently around 446 million Chinese are said to be using the microblogging service as a source of information and trends - which is why more and more companies are active there. Social media marketing is reminiscent of the procedure on Twitter: companies communicate with followers using just a few characters and react to comments in real time. You address private individuals or business contacts who are interested in certain topics with advertising campaigns - and use hashtags to spread messages to large user groups.

Content Marketing on Zhihu

The question-and-answer platform Zhihu is particularly suitable for companies in the B2B sector who want to advertise complex products. The majority of the 160 million registered users have a university degree and use the platform as a high-quality source of information. Posts are unusually long here. Graphics, diagrams and other media are also used. Companies that take a content marketing approach and provide expertise on a topic can generate leads and build a relationship of trust with potential customers. Another plus point: Zhihu content generally ranks well on Baidu, the most popular search engine in China, which increases overall visibility.

In addition to activities on Zhihu, it makes sense to spread expert knowledge in industry-specific forums.

Video marketing via Youku and Douyin

Youku is a popular video platform with 580 million active users and offers companies various types of advertising, for example with in-stream advertising, viral branded videos and break ads. According to industry experts, Youku is increasingly lagging behind competitors like Douyin. For German companies, Youku still comes into play when, for example, image films are to be integrated on a Chinese landing page. Like many other western networks, its western counterpart, Youtube, is blocked in China. The short video platform Douyin - known to us as TikTok - is currently particularly popular among younger Chinese. Often in cooperation with influencers, companies convey targeted messages in the form of moving images to the online community. The following applies: content is more important than advertising - what you like is quickly spread by the more than 400 million monthly active users, new trends emerge.

Dianping: Market leader in the O2O business

Dianping is considered to be one of the new app drivers in China: Put simply, the platform can be compared to Yelp. It delivers comprehensive information services to consumers looking for local stores and services on the go and is also known as the Amazon of Services. Dianping is currently traded as the world's largest provider in the online-to-offline (O2O) market. Offers from more than 5.5 million active providers are available - more than 1,700 services are to be activated per second. The new miracle app is not only interesting to draw the attention of consumers in China to stationary and online stores and to attract them with discount campaigns. More than 200 countries are listed on the platform: For example, the app is also used when Chinese tourists are looking for shopping offers or services in Europe.

Social media in China - know-how is essential

China's social media world has a lot more to offer beyond the communication channels mentioned. Other popular channels are, for example, Xiaohongshu (RED), QQ, Douban or Kuaishou. When choosing a suitable presence, companies should not only be guided by popularity, but also strategically examine which platforms make sense for their business area. However, local knowledge has a short half-life. China is in the midst of a digital revolution - existing services are being further developed at a rapid pace. Those who want to convey their messages successfully must always be kept up-to-date, should also explore niche media and not just rely on one channel. The effort is worth it: 20 percent of all Internet users worldwide live in China.

This text is the second part of a three-part series on the subject of "PR and Marketing in the Middle Kingdom". The third part, which will appear in around two weeks, will focus on China's influential bloggers (key opinion speakers). Click here for the first article in the series: "Marketing in China: 6 tips for a successful start".

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Katharina Niemann lived and worked for many years as a PR consultant in Shanghai. This gave her a detailed insight into everyday life and the cultural peculiarities. Today she uses this knowledge as a consultant at the communication agency STURMFEST and supports customers in their communication in the Middle Kingdom.