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How to get Started in Online Advertising in China

You have been winning the Online Marketing game for a while now. You know which platforms you shine on, what your target audience wants and when to get it to them.
Until one day you decide to expand your business. You are now looking to engage with Chinese consumers, but you can’t find them anywhere.

Welcome to China. Home of the “Great Firewall”
No Facebook. No Twitter. No Youtube.
All blocked.
Social Media is more of a phenomenon in the second largest economy in the world than anywhere else in the world. They follow a similar type of consumer behavior when it comes to social media strategy, but they live in a parallel network.

The platforms

Social Media Marketing:

Twitter’s buddy. What you do on Twitter you can do here. Except it has 350 million active monthly users and is a very effective platform in terms of advertising. More so than Twitter in some aspects.

This is a tricky one.
It was initially launched as a review sharing platform for books, movies, and music. For that reason, some of the questions that show up on Quora are in comparison to GoodReads. But it has evolved since.
Now it can be described as a social networking platform that offers lifestyle and culture products and services for its users. It works more as a forum than Weibo, where users can create groups and discussions around one particular subject.
Douban’s main products include Douban FM, Douban Reading, and Douban Movie.

When there isn’t youtube, there is Youkou. They have more movies and series than you can possibly imagine, but you can host your own content and share on social media.
Advertising options are a little different from Youtube, more versatile but just as simple to set up.

This is your bread and butter, Chinese don’t exchange numbers or emails, they exchange WeChat’s usernames or QR codes. They don’t ask for your business’ website, they ask for your WeChat Subscription Page.
But it is so much more than that. It is a beast of an app, and you will rely on it if you want to create relationships in China.

Beyond your standard WhatsApp like features where you can message, call, share images and videos, one on one or in groups, there is also:

  • a Facebook-like feature called Moments, it’s basically your wall, use it wisely.
  • Subscription and Service public accounts: this is where you can follow all of your brands and public figures. So if you are the business, this is where you share articles, images, anything you like, and then send them on their way to your websites – or respective digital home.
  • Payment services: you have your digital wallet, your mobile payments and an option to send money to your friends. The best part though is the ability to have your customers purchase your product directly on the app. It’s a neat little feature help you speed up that consumer decision journey.
  • City services: only interesting if you are going to be offering local services. Otherwise, it’s not the most interesting feature for you.
  • Enterprise WeChat: good for those wanting to use WeChat for both professional and personal purposes. It was created to allow the internal management of a company’s operations. It was thought out with the same goal in mind as Facebook Workplace.

And many more small features you can discover as you use the app.

60-sec video platform. Most popular video app in China, mostly due to its live-stream feature.

Search Engine Marketing:

If you couldn’t live without google, you are gonna have a hard time in China. And you are gonna have to get to know Baidu, and know it well. Even though it serves a similar purpose as Google, optimizing a website for Baidu is not the same as optimizing a website for Google. Done well, it can be a great digital ally for anyone wanting to expand their business in China.

In China, mobile shopping is more frequent than store visits. We know the name Alibaba from their b2b platform Their initial goal was to help Chinese companies sell their product overseas, but it has evolved. In no time, they developed different platforms with the Chinese consumer in mind. These are a couple of platforms worth researching if you are going to be targeting the online chinese consumer.

Huge online marketplace. Anyone can open a small online store and sell their products.

“97% of Chinese online shoppers use Tmall”
Tmall is both a search and discovery engine and an e-commerce platform. It is also dedicated to business owners, more brand-driven.

In conclusion, nothing can be replicated.
You won’t find them on the same platforms. And replicating your strategy on Western platforms won’t go a long way.
Explore your options, find the right place to be and how you should represent yourself depending on what you want to do with your platform.

This is just a short guide. Trust me.

Best of Luck,

HMS Communications Team