Social Media in China: What’s trending?

For the 9th year running, Kantar Media CIC has released its social media landscape report. As always, this includes an in-depth analysis of emerging trends from Asian powerhouse China. Here are the 5 hot topics that you need to know.

chinese trends for europe 

Trend 1:  Conquering the new digital ecosystem of communication, trade, and sharing

Internet penetration in China has reached 50% and continues to climb each year.

The majority of these users navigate on just four general platforms: Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and Sina.

Thanks to social media, the Chinese are capitalizing on two-way interactive virtual experiences to communicate, trade, and share information. Also, the significant growth of BBS allows consumers to have a conversation with millions of others, thus creating a social network which is entirely different from traditional forms of communication.

The social and digital media internet ecosystem in China is made of these 4 platforms

  • Baidu (663 million), Tieba (200 million) etc.
  • Alibaba (423 million), Tmall (297 million), Alipay (450 million)
  • Tencent (WeChat) (762 million), QQ (877 million)
  • Sina Weibo (261 million)

The V.I.P. Value of new ecosystems …

  • Viral: A fertile ecosystem in which influence spreads 
  • Informative: A ‘go to’ place for information
  • Practical: A mature destination to search, share, shop, and pay. For example: Tencent ecosystem (Search: Sogou, Share: WeChat, Shop: Weidian, Pay: Tenpay)

Trend 2: Social-Commerce breathes fire into China’s retail market

Thanks to ubiquitous payment and flexible social platforms, Chinese consumers have grown ravenous for cross-border purchases. Sites like Taobao, Tmall, JD, and Yihaodian are logging massive E-commerce sales. However, there is an increasing number of separate categories popping up.  Nuomi and Meituan serve group sales. Glamour Sales serve flash sales. Xianyu serves Second Hand Sales. JD Finance serves Crowdfunding. And Ticketing service site Gewara serves O2O customers. A rise in cross-border services such as “Daigou(代购)” and “Haitao(海淘)” (Overseas Purchasing in China) has also created new commercial opportunities in China.

Furthermore, wide use of social networking and the growing demand for E-commerce have birthed an entirely new concept – ‘Social-Commerce’.

On one hand, traditional E-commerce is integrating additional social features. For instance, Taobao launched Weitao(微淘) and Tmall developed FanEr(有范儿).

On the other hand, multiple social networking platforms are expanding their business into E-commerce. For example, Little Red Book (小红书) combined social sharing features with online shopping to create a ‘closed-loop’ that improved their customers’ shopping experience.

Trend 3: Video flexes its muscles & broadens its influence

As original sites like Youku and iQiyi maintain their value, traditional video sites featuring ‘legal’ long-form content like TV dramas, remain a mainstream source. In addition to traditional sites, there are also Danmaku ‘machine gun’ sites, such as Acfun and Bilibili. These feature more youthful content like animation and ‘real time’ user commentary scrolling across the screen. Also, short video apps like Meipai and Miaopai (similar to Vine) have become primary sources of UGC on the social web. In fact, brands such as Mabeline are beginning to generate their own short form of content. “Live” broadcasting apps in the vein of Periscope (Panda TV and Zhanqi TV) are also popping up.

Short Video: Netizens making videos with music.

Danmaku: Real-time comments on all channels 

Live Broadcasting: The hosts can turn flowers from netizens into cash. 

Trend 4: Q&A sheds its shackles and dives into deep engagement

Wildly popular “Ask Me Anything” sites like Fenda (分答) and Zhihu Live (知乎Live), allow anyone to ask celebrities anything.

Fenda pays users to ask celebrities questions for a fee ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand RMB. Consumers can post a question to a celebrity and hear their recorded audio response. Wang Sicong (China’s richest son), raised over US $ 45,000 on Fenda simply by answering questions regarding his personal gossip.

Zhihu Live represents the evolution of ‘text live chat’. It provides netizens private sessions with experts in a variety of industries.

But will this unique Chinese model make its way west? … It already has with Q&A platforms such as Quora and Jelly.

But certain new entries are more inspired by their Chinese counterparts. Tiptalk, like Fenda, pays celebs to text or video message with fans. While Wiselike, is a Q&A knowledge Platform For Professionals similar to Zhihu.Linkedin also launched back in august it's Quora-style Q&A for Influencers

It’s too early to say if these new entries will be as popular as their Chinese counterparts, but it’s good to keep a close watch!

Trend 5: The Wang Hong are shaping a dynamic new KOL landscape

With the rise and development of a diversified fan economy, market segmentation is becoming increasingly thorough. The KOL landscape can be divided into three categories: celebrities, experts, and Wang Hong.

Each category has its own ecosphere and well-focused audiences. For example, experts focus their discussions on their individual fields of expertise.

Newcomers Wang Hong have become a hot investment in the KOL landscape. A self-made cyber celebrity recently secured 12 million yuan (HK $14.4 million) in venture capital funding to help promote her content on social media and build a self-sustaining business model.

These stars are turning their followers into customers by creating unique personal brands. Some Wang Hong even enlist agencies to maintain the business end of the operation. Meanwhile, the cyber star focuses on generating sales by promoting the product through their platforms.

Celebrities and Wang Hong are more willing to share their personal life on social platforms which makes them more commercially attractive than experts. However, some celebrities are famous both online and offline, while Wang Hong are only active online.

To conclude, the three KOL segmentations are powerful groups on the Internet. They can influence their fans’ opinions on issues and on which products to purchase. But before entering a product promotion agreement, businesses must assess the pros and cons of the KOL representing their product.

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