The ultimate guide to Chinese social media /Jamila Dahoum

Maybe your website is compatible for the Western market, and maybe you come up top in the Google search engine, you have a strong Facebook, Twitter and Instagram following…but 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 post will outline the considerations needed for your website when looking to expand into China.

What is Google?

Google, as you most certainly know, is the largest worldwide search engine. If you have a question, want to find directions, or want to find a brand/company, then all you have to do is “google it”. Therefore being present and visible on google is, most certainly, a great feature for your company….as long as you’re not looking to target the massive Chinese market. Google, to the Chinese market is inaccessible and in many cases 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, you can forget about google. In fact, Baidu controls around 80% of the Chinese online search market, and Google only controls 10%1. As a result it is critical to get your brand out there on Baidu, in order to increase traffic to your site, increase brand awareness and gain access to the masses of Chinese consumers.

Social media

Not only are Chinese search engines important, but so too is social media. It’s all great having lots of likes on Facebook, followers on Instagram and twitter, but this is pointless if you’re looking to access the Chinese market. The social media landscape is very different in China compared with the Western world.

Interestingly internet users in China spend 5-6 hours more online per week than Americans. Furthermore, Chinese internet users spend, on 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 want to tap into the large number of internet users and the significant number of internet purchases they make.

In fact, Chinese individuals can gain access to the popular Western social media platforms via the use of VPN or proxy services, this allows them to gain access to blocked content by connecting users to servers outside the country. Data varies on the number of users of each of these social media platforms in China, but even so, the number of users of these sites in China is a drop in the ocean when compared to the Chinese alternatives. For example, the number of users of Facebook in China was 52.87m in 20162. But when we compare this with the 938 million monthly active users of WeChat it is clear that being present on Chinese social media platforms will allow you to get greater access to the Chinse market and will most certainly be more rewarding.

So what are the social media platforms to consider?

We have mentioned WeChat earlier and have a more detailed post on WeChat’s functionality here, but the other social media sites to consider are dependent on your business and the type of consumer you aim to target, as well as your marketing strategy.


Weibo acts as an alternative to Twitter, and has 340m active monthly users, by comparison, Twitter has 328 million active monthly users3 but only 10m users in China4. Clearly the numbers are very similar, but when you look at the size of the Chinese market when compared to the entire world, it is clear that Weibo has an extremely large audience in China, particularly as it caters to a smaller market than Twitter does. Using Weibo to market your brand in China is a most certainly a good way to market your firm as it has a significant number of Chinese users and will 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 bn active users per month5 while Youku has 580m users. This is a substantial figure given it caters largely to a much smaller net of Chinese-speaking audiences only. Furthermore, the main difference between Youtube and the Chinese alternatives, is that Youtube is more based on user-generated content, whereas Youku and Tudou are more focused on films, TV programs and legal copy of domestic TV and films. Using Youku and Tudou to market your brand can help you to access the Chinese market effectively, although this very much depends on the sort of marketing you plan to engage in and whether your target market are likely to use Youku or Tudou.

Clearly, in order to succeed in China it is crucial to target the Chinese market effectively and tap into the large number of Chinese consumers who have access to internet and social media. In order to do so, marketing needs to be focused on Chinese social media, which as discussed, varies dramatically from the Western world. If you want to succeed in China, then having a presence on Chinese social media should be your number 1 priority!


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