China’s social media trends are vastly different from those in the West, while China’s social media marketing is becoming more complex because of its diversified social media platforms, fierce competition, and fast innovation.
In 2021, Chinese social media’s evolution will tie closely to the latest eCommerce trend: live eCommerce – the new normal online selling on social media, significantly “Livestream Shopping” as live streaming had become the new traffic entrance to drive conversion. The overall scale of live streaming eCommerce in 2021 is expected to reach 2 trillion RMB!
If your business is looking to thrive in China’s social media marketing, this is the right article for you.
We will dive into the three most popular social media platforms in China: WeChat (微信), Douyin (抖音), RED (小红书), and highlight key China social media trends you need to be across to leverage and develop your 2021 marketing strategy.
What is the role of social media in China?
In 2021, a projection that makes digital marketers salivate: there will be more than 1.2 billion social media users in China, making China the world’s biggest social media market. Social media plays an important role in Chinese consumers’ purchase decisions, especially the younger generation. Chinese social media, just like Western equivalents, not only serves as a way to communicate online, but also as one of the main sources of news and entertainment, shopping advisors, dating channels, and e-payments.
🌐 Around 65% of the Chinese population use internet.
📱 Chinese consumers spend approximately 4 hours on phones and an average of 3.5 hours on social media per day.
🛒 69% of consumers have shared their purchase links on social media.
📈 The penetration rate for social media in China is over 97%.
Quick facts about WeChat:
Launched in 2011
MAU: 1.2 Billion (as of the half of 2020)
Functions: instant messaging, social networking, information sharing, and campaign participation.
WeChat Moments DAU: more than 750 million (as of the half of 2020)
WeChat Mini Programs DAU: 440 million (as of the half of 2020)
1. WeChat Mini Program Live Streaming: to facilitate Livestream Shopping on Mini Program
Because of the pandemic, WeChat mini programs have given new opportunities to merchants.
As of August 2020, the GMV of products sold through the WeChat Mini Program has increased 115% year-on-year, and the GMV of branded merchants has increased by 210% year-on-year.
The fastest-growing industries for Mini Programs are daily necessities, luxury, and shopping malls in 2020.
To facilitate eCommerce on Mini Program, WeChat has released other supplementing functions on the Mini Program, such as a live streaming capability and WeChat Mini Stores.
Pic 1: WeChat live streaming demonstration
Mini Program Live Streaming is one of the rising China social media trends in 2021, as it has strong social attributes that enhance the live streams’ shareability and exposure.
For brand’s shopping assistants, they can easily share the Mini Program:
- In poster format on WeChat moment timeline
- In mini program card format on their WeChat chat groups to directly reach their target audiences
For merchants, during live streaming, they can:
- Direct the viewers to buy and pay directly in Mini Program
- Solve any customer service issue quickly via the Mini Program with its in-built customer service function
Illustration 2: Live streaming process
2. WeChat Live Streaming Advertisements: to Drive Exposure
WeChat advertisements on WeChat moment, WeChat official account, and WeChat mini program are strong supports to drive traffic to the brand’s live streaming events’ landing page.
Pic 3: Ads channels that support live streaming as the landing page
Brands can release advertisements:
- Before live streaming: allow target audiences to subscribe to live streaming event and get notified when it starts
- During live streaming: attract more viewers.
Pic 4: WeChat live streaming ads process overview
3. WeChat Mini Store for SME: to enjoy Mini Program’s short eCommerce conversion path
WeChat Mini Store (WeStore), launched in August 2020, is a mini program to help people sell products without the program development and entry costs, assisting merchants in starting online businesses quickly.
The registration of any WeChat Mini Store opens to enterprises, individual businesses, and individuals.
The owners of the WeChat Mini Store can sell more than 1500 categories of products.
It is a ready-to-use solution suitable for SMEs and individuals to use.
Pic 5: illustration of a typical WeChat mini store.
Quick facts about Douyin (aka TikTok for International version)
Launched in 2016
Functions: A pan-entertainment platform to create and share a variety of short-form videos,
from genres like dance, comedy, and education, etc.
(Duration: 3 seconds to 1 minute, 3 minutes for some users)
DAU: more than 600 million (as of August 2020)
Over half of the internet users accessed their Douyin account via mobile devices.
4. Douyin eCommerce Live Streaming: Closing the eCommerce Loop on Douyin
On October 9th, a policy stopping third-party sources of goods for live streaming shopping was officially implemented on Douyin.
Since then, all goods sold through live streaming are from Douyin stores. To experience the power of Douyin live streaming eCommerce, brands need to be well-prepared by implementing their Douyin stores.
Pic 5: A Douyin Store overview in the live streaming
5. Douyin Customised TAB: to show brand personality and link to official eCommerce website
One of the key China social media trends, Douyin has collaborated with luxury brands such as Gucci to design their customized brand page.
The top section of the brand page shows a Gucci advertisement video, followed by all the hashtag campaigns Gucci is running.
For brands, they can enjoy full control over the content on this page:
- A personalized brand page
- Direct link to the official website
- Keep fans informed of the latest news
- Fashion show visual experience
- Window display
Pic 6: Gucci Customized Tab
6. Douyin Trending Content for 2021
Creating buzz is the main goal for brands publishing their video content on Douyin.
In 2021, the attention-grasping Douyin videos are likely to have the following features:
1️⃣ Short video remains the primary format as most videos are less than 1 minute. These videos can be produced with low entry barriers, spread quickly, and get a lot of exposure, but be aware that only a limited amount of information can be communicated.
2️⃣ Intense and nostalgic background music is one of these videos’ main features to strengthen users’ memory and arouse emotional resonance
3️⃣ Creative, fragmented yet highly entertaining content
💡 Optimal publish time: 2 to 3 times a week within 7:00-9:00 pm to have regular content for consistent exposure
Media 7: A new trendy filter “Blue Line” on Douyin
Quick facts about Xiaohongshu (aka RED)
Launched in 2013
MAU: more than 85 million (as of 2020)
Female users: 88%
Functions: eCommerce shopping app specializing in cross-border products and brands, for regular users and KOLs to share products and services reviews, including learning tips and tools.
7. RED Surprise box: an exciting function for brands to improve exposure and drive conversion
Pic 8: Illustration of a surprise box
One of the key China social media trends: gamification.
RED users can trigger the customized brand surprise box by:
- Searching the keywords about the brand or related actives
- Browsing specific notes
There are multiple prize types in these surprise boxes:
- Gifts: Collect users’ information
- Coupons: Jump to store page (Key to drive conversion!)
- Stickers: Promote to release notes
- Posters: Improve brand exposure
8. RED New Product Trials: to encourage UGC
There is a trend among beauty brands to activate RED campaigns by inviting quality beauty creators on the site to be the first to try it out. New product trials to encourage more user-generated content could be leveraged by other industries for China’s social media marketing on RED as well.
Let’s discover the key benefits:
- Inspire more and more high-quality UGC content
- Engage users in discussions about the topic
- Reach the most accurate consumers on RED
- Impactful production promotion
Pic 9: YSL Lipstick Trial Video
9. RED Trending Content for 2021
A common practice on RED is to post content, including pictures, texts, and short videos.
1️⃣ The first picture of any RED posts is critical and will directly affect whether other users click into the content.
The first picture is usually a beautiful image or a leading question in large font.
2️⃣ RED video is also becoming more and more popular, point to note that many Douyin videos are also uploaded to RED. Since there is no time-limit, there are also lots of 2-5 minutes videos on RED. Brands can prepare some short videos uploading to RED that shares more information about their brands or products.
💡 Optimal publish time: same as Douyin, 2 to 3 times a week within 7:00-9:00 pm to have regular content for consistent exposure