Online and Social in China

July 23, 2012 by Heather McIlvaine

Photo: istockphoto

According to a recent report by Forrester, the most socially active adults on the planet live in China. Research indicates that 97 percent of metropolitan Chinese online adults use social tools. And unlike in most other countries, social media use in China is not only driven by the younger generations. Forrester found that on average Chinese Internet users ages 55 to 64 are more socially active than US Internet users ages 25 to 34.

Social media marketing is a proven way to learn more about customer habits and preferences, expand reach, and identify new options for profit. For companies that market their products and services in China, the opportunity provided by social sites is not to be overlooked. But with no Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube operating in China, outsiders, especially Westerners, could find the task tricky. Forrester recommends that companies do their research before kicking off a social media marketing campaign in China.

When in China…

In particular, Forrester suggests that companies marketing in China become acquainted with the local social media tools. Many of these are similar to well-known sites like Twitter and Facebook that are used in other countries. Sina Weibo, for example, is a microblog that works with 140-character limits and hashtags, much like Twitter. And Renren and Kaixin001 are social networking sites in the manner of Facebook.

Forrester also warns of the higher cost of social media in China. It is not uncommon to pay for sponsored tweets or a profile page. Companies looking to take advantage of the active social landscape in China should be prepared to pay for it.

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