How social media shapes online communication, marketing, and sales in China

Chinese social media Apr 1, 2018

Interview with Zoee Zhu
Project manager with a specialty in Chinese digital marketing, digital media buying, and social media planning & engagement

In China, social media is well-developed and has an essential role in daily communication. Due to government restrictions toward various Western media, China established its own online communication channels such as WeChat, Weibo, Youku just to name some of the most relevant ones. These modern and relatively new social media channels mainly targeting young generations, under 40. Older generations use traditional media instead of WeChat or Weibo.

Zoee tells how Chinese consumers behave and how the various strategies and channels operate. Because social media aims at younger generations, it is essential to consider a 360 approach instead of merely just the online presence. This approach helps to target a broader range of people. However, of course, the details depend on the nature of the product as well -she says.

What are the key differences between Weibo and WeChat?


  • You can see and follow anyone, and you also look at the comments on various topics
  • The key opinion leaders can promote themselves
  • Generally it is a less expensive channel then Wechat (in terms of advertisement)
  • It is easy to search and target specific keywords


  • This social media channel is private; you only see your friends' posts. You add friends one by one, and they have to confirm your application the same way as it is on Facebook.
  • We also call WeChat as a 'social circle,' and it is perfect for targeted advertisements.
  • When buying social media ads, the minimum amount that I recommend to spend is around 50K RMB. Every 1000RMB spent helps to target about 1800 people. These advertisements sometimes are clickable pictures, and other times short videos.


What are the mistakes brands make when using WeChat and/or Weibo for their campaigns?

  • They don't target accurately.
  • The visuals are dull and uninteresting.
  • Advertisements appear too often, and consumers get bothered instead of interested.

How to plan a WeChat or Weibo advertisement?

  1. Most importantly you need to decide what kind of impact you want to achieve and how.
  2. Be clear on what your target is and how you can track it.
  3. What is your budget and for what timeframe?
  4. I strongly suggest only to advertise products that are available legally in China. We had some foreign brands in the past wanting to promote their products without being available in China. Instead of being a valuable pre-work, it just makes customers angry when they like something and cannot get it right away. For this reason, it is better to wait until the products are (legally) available for purchase.
  5. Have full image library available for the product to ensure the images are beautiful and appear in high quality.
  6. It is also possible to arrange a click per view pay plan, hence only pay for the advertisement when someone visits the page.This decision depends on the nature of the product and the budget available.
  7. Within your campaign, target different people because customers have a low tolerance to similarity.They don't want to see the same thing over and over again.
  8. Don't use the same ad for long. Otherwise, people get bored with it and ignore it. If you target the same audience, prepare various design options.
  9. Thursday to Friday the ads get more views than on weekends because during Saturday and Sunday people live active social life or rest and don't spend so much time on social media.
  10. During the day target 9am-10am when people are on the way to work, and they have time to read. In the evening 8-9pm also works well, these time slots are called 'golden times' and not only bring the highest viewing results but also costs the most money.
  11. Planning and buying are connected, and the right keywords help to hone in on targets.
  12. The data on one's subscription accounts gives a comprehensive data on personal interest. When a client has a specific budget, they can decide about the appearance of the ad according to the age, gender, interest, location and other details of the target market. Use this tool to maximize the reach of your campaign.

What do you need to open an official WeChat account?

  • Company certificate
  • Local bank account
  • If you work with an agency, they will need you to show your brand's legal license.

What does 360 integrated planning mean?

Before the appearance of social media, we only used traditional advertisement opportunities such as in magazines, TV, roadshows, posters, and other offline elements. These include for example:

  1. Propose to a celebrity to wear the advertised brand such as clothes (enhanced by PR, media)
  2. Create social buzz and continuously talk about it on various online channels
  3. Launch the advertisement campaign
  4. Organize an event and offer an exclusive, introductory deal to get people decide and start spending money.

These marketing opportunties are still important part of regular campaigns. A 360 circle helps to connect online with offline, as of the digital world with the real world (covering a 360-degree view).

Zoee is expert in Chinese digital marketing, digital media buying, and social media planning & engagement.


Hubbers Team

co-writing stories about Hubbers creators, experts and investors co-building a better tomorrow.

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