In the recent report of China Social Media Marketing, eMarketer research analyst and author Mike Froggatt pointed out that “As penetration approaches saturation, users are adopting activities that mirror the West but remain distinctly Chinese. They have innovated in categories as diverse as online entertainment, group buying and social media.”
As marketers who are planning to expand business into Asia-Pacific – you just cannot ignore China. It is an essential country for marketers to put on to their enter list.
China GDP Growth
It is undeniable that China’s rapid economic growth over the past 25 years, since the beginning of economic reforms in 1978, of, measured in gross domestic product (GDP), they got on average 9.37% per year. It is the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with average growth rates of 10% for the past 30 years. And its GDP grew 10.3% in 2010, above 2009’s 9.2% expansion.
Now China already surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy last quarter, Japan’s nominal gross domestic product for the second quarter totaled $1.288 trillion, less than China’s $1.337 trillion. Japan remained bigger in the first half of 2010, the government agency said. Japan’s annual GDP is $5.07 trillion, while China’s is more than $4.9 trillion, according to Bloomberg.
Social Network Users in China
Since China’s GDP continues to climb at more than 10% year over year, and the number of internet users in the country is increasing and experience every day, they show a zeal for social networks. Social network users in China will more than double in number, from 207 million in 2010 to 488 million in 2015. eMarketer estimates that 265 million internet users in China will use social networks at least monthly this year.
Social Media Activities in China
Individuals in China use social networks to communicate with family, friends, brands and the government. They are avid followers of official product and brand websites, which including blogs, microblogs (has the potential to be bigger in China than in the U.S, like SINA’s WeiBo, the largest micro-blogging service in China, currently with over 50 million users, they expect that 30% of China’s internet population will be micro-blogging by 2013), and social networks.
The Major Social Networks in China
For the social networks, as we know, China is proficient at copying what is going on abroad in social media. Due to the banning of major global social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, Tumblr, etc.,
Many Chinese companies have learned to create their own. In fact, RenRen.com, the largest social networking site in China with over 170 million registered users and 28 million daily active users, works almost exactly like Facebook, down to the ability to Like, share and upload photo. By the blue and white color scheme, it even looks the same, incredible!
In similar schemes, Foursquare has a Chinese twin called JiePang, there’s Tudou and Youku where YouTube should be, there’s DianPing instead of Yelp, and Groupon has over 1,000 copycats in China alone.
Even these sites help increase interaction, transparency and relevance to internet users while also amplifying a brand’s message (for better or worse). However, as Froggatt from eMarketer said, “although social networks in China will increase reach, and sites often have very specific audiences, but choosing how and where to target these audiences can determine whether social media campaigns are successful or flop.”
For marketers, it might not be so daunting for global brands to enter China’s social media landscape, the key to success would be to understand its macro and micro culture – what China social media users talk about, why they share and what social currencies affect them etc. Those things just can’t learn in a seminar, but only through immersion.
As the nature of social media, it works the best if marketers an edge on what consumers expect or want from their products or services, participating and engaging in the conversation is a must thing to do, it is especially important in the China’s social network environment.
Till the end, social media marketing is a tool to get a foot in the door. Aspiration can be a strong motivator for purchases, and brands can benefit from the increased prestige perceived by social media users in China.