In the rise of social media, its presence has set itself in various countries and cultures. Although in Western culture, our social media landscape is largely saturated by well-known players such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, there are many larger players in social media in various other countries. It’s highly important to expand our knowledge of the social media landscape on a multinational level in order to gain insight about the importance, and the capabilities of various different social media platforms.

One interesting use case is China’s massive digital landscape. China is a highly regulated country, where Western applications, such as Facebook and YouTube, are blocked. However, this restriction has caused the growth of of China’s own home-grown social media applications, which make up their digital landscape. Despite these regulations, China counts as the world’s largest social media network, as there are 642 million active social media users (46% of its population) in China as of 2015.

Therefore, as most of the international brands have focused on increasingly large social media networks for their marketing strategy (e.g. Facebook and Twitter), these markets need to understand the different social media landscapes in foreign countries and adapt in order to gain more engagement through social media avenues.

This  video highlights key elements  of the Chinese social media landscape, which may sometimes come as a surprise.


Chinese Social Media Landscape video highlights:

  • China has 600 million internet users
  • Majority of platform users are between the age of 24 – 45 years old
  • Spends average of 21.7 hours online per week.
  • 75% access social media through mobile
  • 70% access social media through desktop too
  • Top uses of online activity include instant messaging, search engines and online music.


China’s Social Media Landscape

The infographic below highlights the top ten applications within China’s social media landscape and their uses.

To provide  context on these applications,  Baidu is similar to Google, Weibo acts as a combination of Facebook and Twitter,  WeChat is similar to Facebook, however it combines instant calling functionality, payments and group chats, Tencent is also similar to Facebook, but with gaming functionality added on (similar to Facebook games) and much more. As you can see here, with the wide functionality of each application and large user base, it acts as a huge opportunity for global markets to tap into China’s consumers.


WeChat Goes Beyond Social Networking

WeChat is one of the leading applications In China’s digital landscape. The video below provides you with an insight of what WeChat is like, including its various functionalities.

WeChat acts as a central place for users to communicate with peers and perform day to day activities, acting as a combination of PayPal, Facebook, Skype, Paypal & Whatsapp. Various functions include instant messaging, seamless user experience from mobile to desktop, eWallet functionalities to pay for goods and services (similar to Alibaba’s Ali pay), WeChat can be used to pay for movie tickets, flights, bills, and even transfers between peers.


Social Media Global Marketing: UNSW International Students Marketing Office

An example of how different organisations can tap into these social media platforms native to China’s social media landscape can be seen as Australian universities attempt to connect with  China’s student market through native social media applications. An example of this is portrayed through UNSW International Student Office’s marketing capabilities. The aim of the international student office is to attract students from other countries to attend UNSW to study. One of UNSW’s biggest international student base are Chinese international students.

In order to gain strong user engagement, the marketing team needed to look at other channels of marketing other than Facebook and direct email. To achieve this, they tapped into Weibo and WeChat, as well as creating a Chinese website as the first point of contact for information about UNSW International programs. The power of social media is underlined, as representatives from the team have stated that their social media campaign is much more effective than traditional marketing (e.g. billboards in subways) in building user engagement, and out of the three platforms used, WeChat and Weibo gain much more user engagement than the website.

Thus, the importance of expanding our knowledge across multinational social media landscapes are highlighted in order to tap into and maximise potential of user engagement with different markets.

Let us know below what you’ve thought about this post! Have you used any of these social media applications before? If so, what makes you prefer some applications over other Western applications?