I’ve been hearing about the challenges my APAC executives face while drafting their go-to-market plan using social media as a medium to target the Chinese consumer. I recently spent around 10 days in China which gave me an opportunity to discuss this with them in detail, and also convey our strong opinion on the matter. I managed to consolidate both FSG’s opinions and our clients’ pain points to provide some frameworks to help companies finalize their social media plan for China.
I recently noticed that a number of big department stores have been closed or scaled down, primarily due to the increased competition coming from the Internet (as compared to the number of stores which I observed several years ago). Social media is expanding its penetration of Chinese Internet, which is already the largest in the world. Many companies have started thinking about how to build social media into their business strategies, similar to what many MNCs did for the Internet 10 to 15 years ago.
Chinese social media platforms are generally more interactive and users can share content in a greater variety of formats to a wider audience, therefore drawing more user contributions. Sina Weibo, a Chinese mircroblogging platform, is more user friendly and contains more features than Twitter to attract new users, retain elite users, and encourage all users to contribute more content, leading the platform to be more interactive.
Home grown platforms like Sina Weibo, Wechat, Qzone, Renren and Kaixin have dominated the social media space in China. Most were started as imitations of similar platforms in the West but over time have evolved into something quite different with unique product and service offerings specific for Chinese users.
A company’s social media strategy could be rendered obsolete very quickly as the market is ever-changing, with new companies, business models, and user features continuously mushrooming . FSG has built a simple 5-step process for B2C companies to build an effective social media communication plan. Social media is also not exclusive to B2C companies. B2B companies can leverage social media in an indirect way to build positive brand image, enhance internal communication, and even drive recruitment efforts. This is definitely a space where the marketing heads need to zoom-in on now to ensure they capitalize on the opportunity.