The ultimate guide to Chinese social media

Posted 2018-08-08

By Jamila Dahoum*

Maybe your website is compatible for the Western market, you possibly even come up top on the Google search engine, have a strong Facebook, Twitter and Instagram following… But unfortunately, that means absolutely nothing in China. Chinese social media platforms are an entirely different ball game and ensuring that your brand is visible on Chinese social media platforms and accessible to the Chinese market is critical. This blog post will outline the key features you need for your website when looking to expand into China.


What is Google?

Google, as you most certainly know, is the largest search engine worldwide. If you have a question, want to find directions or look up a brand/company, then all you need to do is “Google it”. Therefore, being present and visible on Google is, most certainly, a great advantage for your company – as long as you’re not looking to target the massive Chinese market. Keep in mind that Google is inaccessible to the Chinese market and, in most cases, also unknown. Therefore, being present on Google means nothing if you haven’t considered Chinese search engines, too.


Baidu is the Chinese alternative to Google, so if you want to be known in China, Baidu is your friend. In fact, Baidu controls around 80% of the Chinese online search market share with Google only owning about 10%1. Therefore, it is critical to get your brand out there on Baidu to increase traffic to your site, improve brand awareness and gain access to the masses of Chinese consumers.

Social media

Of course, Chinese search engines are important, but so is social media. It’s all great having lots of likes on Facebook, followers on Instagram and Twitter – but again, this is pointless if you’re looking to access the Chinese market. The social media landscape is very different in China compared to the Western world.

Interestingly, the average internet user in China spends 5-6 hours more time online per week than US Americans. Moreover, Chinese users spend an average 90 minutes per day on social networks, and 38% of consumers make product purchase decisions based on recommendations they see on social networks. As a result, ensuring your brand is present on Chinese social media is essential if you want to access the Chinese market and gain access to the large number of potential customers and the substantial amount of online purchases they make.

In theory, it is still possible to access popular Western social media platforms, undermining the governmental restriction. But even so, the slim number of users is a drop in the ocean compared to the Chinese alternatives. For instance, the number of Facebook users in China was around 53 million in 20162. Compared to the 938 million active users on WeChat, it is more than obvious that Western social media has very limited influence on the Chinese market. Therefore, growing exposure on Chinese networking websites instead will most certainly prove useful to your business.

So what are the social media platforms to consider?

We have presented WeChat earlier as a great option to join the complex Chinese market and have a more detailed post about WeChat’s functionality on our website, so we will not go into detail here. Besides obviously WeChat, what are other social networking websites to consider? Although this depends entirely on your business and the type of consumer you aim to target, we will present a couple options here:


Weibo serves as the Chinese alternative to Twitter and has 340 million active monthly users – a lot, compared to only 10m Twitter users in China4. Considering Weibo solely targets Chinese consumers, it is apparent that the platform has an extremely large audience.Using Weibo to market your brand is most certainly a good way to market your firm, get access to a big number of consumers and allow you to gain access to the Chinese market effectively.


Youku and Tudou

Youku and Tudou act as alternatives to YouTube. YouTube has 1.5 billion active users per month5 while Youku has 580m users. Although Youku’s absolute user count is far lower, it reaches a substantially bigger relative audience, since it caters to Chinese-speaking countries only.
Furthermore, there is an important main difference between Youtube and the Chinese alternatives: YouTube is more based on user-generated content whereas Youku and Tudou are rather focused on films, TV programs and legal copies of domestic TV and films. Using Youku and Tudou to market your brand can help you accessing the Chinese market effectively, although this very much depends on the sort of marketing you plan to engage in.

Clearly, to succeed in China, it is required for you to consider marketing on social media platforms like Weibo and Youku, too, depending on your marketing strategy and your company’s target group. We offer personalized strategies for your business to enter the vastly different world of networking social media in China and find an ideal way to promote your business.



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