5th January 2018
The mobile and social networks are at the vanguard of China’s current technological revolution. Companies like Baidu, Alibaba, WeChat, Xiaomi and Sina Weibo might not be household names in the West, but they are in China and most of them are traded on US stock exchanges and followed by analysts and users alike almost as much as Amazon and Yahoo are.
China is the biggest social media market in the world and whereas Facebook might be the biggest social network in the world, its penetration in China is minimal (at least compared with WeChat) and will probably remain so for a long time to come, not only because China censors Facebook but also because Facebook’s Chinese competitors are actually creating some very technologically savvy products.
According to a report by the Global Web Index, six of the ten most widely used social systems are Chinese, including Qzone (19 percent), Sina Weibo (18 percent), Tencent Weibo (16 percent), RenRen (11 percent), Kaixin (8 percent) and 51.com (6per cent). In March 2012, China’s mobile subscribers count topped 1 billion mobile connections, and this number included 356 million mobile internet users.
This hunger for social activities has created lots of savvy social platforms, many of them with more advanced tools than those in the West: For instance, Chinese social media users were the first to embed multimedia content in their posts long before Twitter users could do so in the United States.
Companies like WeChat are transforming social platforms, adding shopping malls as part of their networks, while Taobao has partnered with Weibo to allow blogging on purchased items and instant commentary. yy.com has revolutionised the concept of reality television, by taking a singing competition and broadcasting it over the internet, while allowing viewers to directly pay the contestants channels.
WeChat has proven to be highly successful and has been growing very fast both in China and internationally, also companies like Youkou, Weibo, QQ, Hexun, Jiepang, Qieke, Ku6 and Ushi are all experiencing exponential growth. With a base of 1.3 billion people, it is not too hard for services that catch on in China to rapidly get to tens of millions of users within a year or even sooner.
Weibo is another highly successful Chinese social media network and it is a mix of Facebook and Twitter that makes lots of money by offering paid memberships to users and selling marketing services to businesses. On the platform, users post 140-character messages, which conveys considerably more information in Chinese than it does in English.
Images and video can also be included as well as comments on post threads. With an urban and educated audience of over 400 million, Weibo has become the top platform for editorial commentary and breaking news.
Tencent owns WeChat and offers Qzone, Chinese largest Facebook clone, which is very popular among the teenagers, who post photos and videos, keep journal entries, and play games on it.
China’s social media sector is local and very fragmented, with each social media and e-commerce platform having at least two major local players; both have areas of focus, geographic priorities, and different strengths. This break up increases the complexity of the social media environment for marketers and requires significant resources and expertise, including a network of partners to help guide the way. Weibo and Taobao have built a partnership which allows business owners on Taobao to create accounts on Weibo and use it as an avenue to communicate with customers and market their products.
By linking the two networks, Weibo users can log onto Taobao to make purchase[s] and payment[s] and Taobao users can log onto Weibo to view news and release products. Millions of users will carry out the functions of internet shopping and social media on these two networks without switching account[s].
Unfortunately, for foreign companies trying to do business in China have been hampered by strict censorship laws, a form of censorship by the government which can cause lots of connectivity issues across the platforms making it so difficult to access the right clients with Western widely used Social Media.
However, Forex brokerage firms can easily enter the Chinese market via the Chinese social media platforms.
FX brokers searching for ways to gain a foothold in China should look to Weibo and WeChat to market to potential consumers. With a monthly active user base of 156.5 million, Weibo has been the blogging platform of choice for marketers, while WeChat, with 438 million worldwide monthly users, is the chosen social network.
Local apps like PaPa (an Instagram clone that offers photo filters as well as sound effects) and Meipai (an app that turns video clips into videos) can also be used to market quite effectively. Brokerage firms should set up their own public accounts on WeChat to tap into the massive pool of potential followers.
Brokerage firms can use WeChat as a portal where users can tap into and utilize their customer data. Storefronts can also be set up to market directly to customers, who can use WeChat’s mobile wallet to fund their trading. These transactions should be seamless, completed within a closed ecosystem that will ease users’security concerns. FX brokers wanting to venture into China should not see language as a huge barrier. Sites such as Taobao and jd.com allow users to upload their items in English.