Navigating China’s many social networks can be as challenging and frustrating as mastering Mandarin. However, when building a social media plan, there are a few basics you can apply.
Here are four must-dos when attempting to to connect with — and ultimately sell your brand to — the Chinese.
1. Forget Facebook and Twitter
As hard as it may be to accept, Facebook and Twitter have no traction among both the Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking population of China.
Not only are they blocked by Government censorship, the local networks already have a massive head-start to establish themselves as dominant players.
The Chinese can instead be found on sites such as Douban, Renren, Kaixin001 and TaoBao.
How much of your current communication is directed at these channels?
2. Use blogger influence
Peer-to-peer referral is king in China. Research and engage with key online bloggers who boast a large following within your category.
Allocate both time and budget into your social media plan for wooing them.
Allow for gifts, pay (if need be) and support — it will pay dividends.
3. Understand the latest online language
Chinese is the most used language online, but communication isn’t just about knowing simplified characters.
A savvy online social media strategy includes effective conversational marketing through the latest fashionable speak.
It can change from month to month, so be sure to stay current.
4. Driving traffic to your destination
China’s social network space offers loads of opportunity to create dedicated online social media campaigns to drive traffic to your destination — either playing out on a host’s network (aka Renren fan page) or to your own exclusive website.
These networks have both pros and cons, so be sure to utilise local insight before investing your time in one or the other.
A big network doesn’t mean it’s easy to drive value from it, unless you plan on investing big dollars – in which case you can afford to go everywhere.
Andrew Collins is founder of Mailman, a company focused on driving deeper relationships with Chinese communities. On the ground experience and a unique insight into online China has seen Mailman build communities for some of the world’s leading brands.