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Noelle Conrad

Published on

July 15, 2019


digital, digital marketing, social media

The social networking landscape in China is vastly unlike the rest of the connected world and is not as easy as one may think. Breaking into China’s market should generally be a well thought-out, strategic plan that encompasses cultural differences, values and evolving technology. With almost 100 million active social media users, China’s social media market is key to your brand’s success. With this in mind, it’s time to trade in Instagram for Red (Xiaohongshu) and Facebook for Douban and give your brand the attention it deserves.


In order for brands to establish a successful presence on Chinese social media, they must consider the differences in how social content is developed, shared and consumed. Chinese social media users spend an average of six hours on the internet a day. Not only is this audience’s outstanding presence on the platforms essential to the buyer’s journey, but the fact they pretty much turn towards these platforms for recommendations more than any other audience.


The sharpest tool in your Chinese digital marketing shed is utilizing KOLs or Key Opinion Leaders. Drill down your strategy by using the equivalent to the top IG influencers in the West in China. KOLs are held to a high status of celebrity in China, and just like influencers, rank on a spectrum. Meaning, based on budget, choosing the right KOL can greatly improve brand engagement and awareness. Hit the nail on the head by:

  • Delivering results at tangible prices
  • Driving rapid awareness
  • Solidifying your brand’s image


Due to the Great Firewall, businesses and brands outside of China may have a hard time establishing a presence on platforms. Garnering help from mainland partners is extremely helpful in understanding and complying with the regulations placed on the constantly evolving social and promotional landscape. With little to pretty much zero access (with VPNs few and far in between) to Facebook, Instagram and the likes, trade in your favorite Western social platforms with these popular Chinese social networks:

WhatsApp for WeChat

  • An integrated app allowing users to pay bills, book appointments and shop online through native e-commerce stores
  • Verified brands have advanced access to features including user location, third-party apps, surveys payments and more

Twitter for Sina Weibo

  • A microblogging platform acting as a hybrid between Twitter and Facebook
  • Additional capabilities such as multimedia sharing, anonymous chatting, threaded conversations and verified accounts
  • Great for leveraging KOLs

YouTube for Youku

  • In addition to uploading video content, users can watch TV series, movies and more
  • A wide and dynamic range of native advertisements currently unavailable on YouTube

Instagram for RED (Xiaohongshu)

  • A cross border e-commerce platform that shoppers can use to share content, ideas, bargains and shopping tips
  • Chinese consumers are able to reach global retailers by purchasing and setting up a warehouse in an e-commerce free trade zone
  • The KOLs of your marketing dreams

Facebook for Douban 

  • Both registered and unregistered users can access content
  • Engagement through user-generated content


Social media success in China isn’t solely dependent on your use of the above, but your brand’s ability to not just keep up with but stay ahead of China’s rapidly evolving market while respecting cultural differences. Being able to successfully introduce your brands to these platforms and create a strong presence in the key to unlocking your brand’s kingdom in the Chinese market.

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