In 2022, the marketing goals of many brands focused on ensuring a more predictable growth. But to succeed in China’s changing digital landscape in 2023, investing in an overarching marketing strategy across all digital media and e-commerce platforms will not work. Instead, brands should focus on a few essential platforms and utilize new features on Chinese social media platforms. Marketers should “invest small and win big” for potential growth in uncertain times.
Here are some highlights from the top social media platforms in China that may lead brands to the next stage this year from a recently released 650-page long 2023 China Mega Report by ChoZan.
Top 3 social media platforms with exciting new features to utilize in 2023
WeChat’s ecosystem offers common functions like chat and payments, but its video section Channels and search engines can provide new ways for brands to enhance their digital journey. WeChat Channels usage surpassed Moments in 2022, while monthly active users of WeChat search reached 800 million with a 54% yearly increase in search volume. Brands can connect with consumers across digital touchpoints using WeChat’s function, building branding assets. A search for “red packets for CNY” can lead to various advertising and brand-owned channel sections. Jewelry brand CHOW TAI SENG has secured a single sales campaign hitting 5 million yuan revenue leveraging search function and live streaming. Brands must target secure events (like the Chinese New Year, Spring Festival, etc.) with large followings and utilize exciting WeChat tactics to form smoother digital journeys.
2. RED (Xiaohongshu)
RED (Xiaohongshu) is known for its authentic user-generated content, making it a great platform for word-of-mouth marketing. In 2023, RED updated its platform with a “video” section to create a more diverse community with more video content. The platform downplays sales and instead prioritizes creating a comfortable social atmosphere, making it unique compared to other sales-focused platforms.
Recently, Chinese actress Dong Jie’s livestream on RED delivered a sense of peaceful and soft-selling approach that differs from livestreams on other platforms. She has inspired many audiences to step back from the hustle and bustle of their life and slow down. According to RED official data, the viewers of her live streaming on Feb 24 exceeded 2.2 million and the cumulative GMV exceeded 30 million.
By partnering with quality livestreamers and continuously delivering a unique brand vibe through stylish images and text, brands can further accumulate their digital assets and achieve long-tail effects. This kind of more immersive product seeding may turn more random customers into the brand’s loyal fans.
Douyin upgraded its “interest e-commerce” to “full-field interest e-commerce” in 2022, making refined management, creative livestream content, and beneficial partnerships with Douyin Shop vital in 2023. The platform’s traffic dividends are diminishing, with fewer users paying attention to random content. Consumers want unique, exciting, and convenient shopping experiences across various categories, taking the initiative to locate goods. In a fiercely competitive environment, brands must deliver high-quality livestream experiences to stand out.
A good example would be East Buy’s recent live streaming in the Greater Bay Area, which generated total sales of over 100 million yuan and more than 1.5 million overall transaction order volume. The brand was created by China’s education giant New Oriental and its success was due to its unique understanding of Chinese cultural experiences and audience’s emotional connections, offering a wide range of products including agricultural, food, and personal care.
Brands should continually explore creative ways to livestream on Douyin to impress customers. Leveraging Chinese cultural assets and aligning them with the brand can increase user stickiness and loyalty. Brands should also consider forming a closed loop by partnering with Douyin Shop.
Two niche Chinese social media platforms
Aside from the top three Chinese social media platforms, there are also a few niche platforms that brands can use in 2023.
For Zhihu, its approach prioritizes quality over quantity of content and is suitable for promoting high-cost goods like real estate, cars, education, and medical beauty that require informative and more in-depth content to guide consumers’ decision-making. Also, establishing a good content IP can help reach the target audience more precisely.
Dewu, a popular social media and e-commerce platform, began as a sneaker platform and evolved into an extensive marketplace. It attracted 7,000 brands, including major names like Michael Kors, Coach, and Adidas, who opened their stores on the app. Brands can utilize its various promotional tools like flash sales, group buying and coupons to attract consumer attention.
Best Practices for Brands to Win in 2023 on Chinese Social Media Platforms
- The emergence of WeChat Channels and search engine capabilities presents an unprecedented opportunity for brands to craft a more comprehensive and immersive digital journey for their customers. Brands should use these features for a more integrated customer experience, creating deeper connections with their audience.
- The updated “video” section on RED offers brands a chance to create content that fosters community and emotional connection with customers, resulting in stronger brand loyalty and advocacy. Partnering with quality livestreamers and delivering unique brand vibes can create an immersive customer experience, turning customers into loyal fans.
- Douyin’s upgrade to “full-field interest e-commerce” in 2022 highlights the importance of creative live-streaming content and beneficial partnerships. To stand out, brands must deliver high-quality live-streaming experiences that foster emotional connections with customers.
- Craft compelling content that delivers consumer-centric information to drive engagement instead of being brand-centric. Collecting market data and analyzing consumer trends can aid in creating relevant content. Collaborating with KOLs/KOCs on platforms like RED and Douyin adds credibility via word of mouth and expands reach.