Wearesocial recently created a massive deck on China social media stats. Now since I’ve apparently got some free time, let’s take a look at this monster and see if we can derive a few practical insights.
Rather than approaching this from a research perspective, lets look at it “strategically”, cause then that way we can sound more “pompous”. What’s strategy in a business sense? Well from my experience being a professional
bullshit artist marketer, it simply means this: taking bits of data and stringing together a plausible story.
So will the story I tell you be happy? Will it be sad? Will it be full of romance with the promise of dreams fulfilled? Well, whichever way this wild roller coaster of emotion goes, lets us pray that at the very least it won’t be boring.
So this is the slide I was looking at prior to writing this article; I was thinking to myself, “okay this is interesting, but then so what?” So let’s add a few dimensions to this data to see if we can tease out a plausible story. Out of all the dimensions we could possibly add, I’m going to say “wealth” is the most relevant for us evil-doing marketers. So… QUESTION: just how wealthy are today’s Chinese?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Billionaires.
From Tea Leaf Nation: age distribution of the top 400 richest people in China vs. the US.
Suddenly that 20-39 age segment seems a bit more interesting. But then, these above are obviously outliers; from these two charts it seems our market could consist of about 400 people, pessimistically. But we marketers are dreamers! Perhaps every Chinese is rich and they are all looking to buy our products!
Right. In this little mind-bubble we’re ambling around in, however improbable, this delusional insight is still theoretically possible. So in that vein, lets feed this dream with the help of more statistics:
Looks like in general China’s getting richer and thus more likely to purchase increasingly expensive products. Okay, so now you’re thinking “so tell me something I didn’t know”, or maybe you’re thinking “this insight is so 2010″, or perhaps you’re rolling your eyes in such a way there is no chance I will have missed you rolling your eyes… right? Honestly dude, you can be such an asshole sometimes.
So here’s a little something then, that should wipe some of the delusion off our faces.
Innocent as it may seem, this slide hints that our somewhat broad assumption all Chinese are rich and want to buy our products needs reconsideration. Let’s go a bit deeper with a few other helpful statistics from Tea Leaf Nation:
So, in fact, not everyone is rich. Wealth is firmly distributed across the East and also apparently Inner Mongolia(?). But introducing another dimension, we also find internet penetration also generally follows geographic wealth distribution. Hmm. But before we jump to a final conclusion, another dimension for your consideration:
So while our friends in China’s West are somewhat income-challenged, they are also increasingly connected to the internet at a rate faster than domestic urban penetration.
OK. Let’s milk this data for nutritious insights.
- Wealthy: Chinese are generally getting wealthier, and a certain subsegment of China is extremely wealthy.
- Young: China’s rich are quite young when internationally benchmarked.
- East China: Wealth increase is focused on the Eastern provinces, in urban cities.
- Digital Correlation: The highest rate of mobile usage is the 20-39 age range, and internet penetration is focused in Eastern provinces, both which closely correlates to China’s wealthy both geographically and demographically.
- Future Rural: Rural netizens are increasingly online, which will likely accelerate as the general population becomes more wealthy and penetration in urban areas saturate.
So… let’s just assume the above is correct, what then is our strategy moving forward? Well, the easy answer is brands should be on mobile, or at the very least start planning ahead for mobile. In China, this consists of two major platforms:
Sina Weibo: The backbone of social media in China; dominating online and mobile. Sina Weibo is a mix of Facebook and Twitter and is generally used for broadcasting messages. Most users access Sina Weibo through mobile apps.
Tencent WeChat: The newcomer gaining significant traction and taking a bite out of Sina Weibo, WeChat could potentially be the place people go after experiencing Weibo-fatigue. Like Facebook, who is losing young audiences to other channels like Instagram and Path because of the added privacy and organic “network fresh start”, or “network reboot” demand, so may WeChat serve this need after Sina Weibo peaks in relevancy and becomes a victim of its own popularity, functional differences aside.
Mobile strategy in China is a bit more complex after WeChat entered the game, but not overly so. A presence on both platforms is recommended, but not necessarily required for most brands; you can really get away with just using Sina Weibo if you’re looking to broadcast and engage.
For those looking to go the extra mile however, WeChat features several tactical communication benefits: one-to-one conversations for sensitive topics (price, customer care, etc), functions allowing creation of mobile brand catalogs, and geographic push-message targeting – quite useful for retailers requiring in-store traffic; this, however, assumes they have decisive control over logistics and can cost-effectively coordinate their local offline teams… no mean feat in China.
…but what about the “Strategy”?
Right, the strategy… umm… so it all starts with these birds, and these bees yeah? And then… okay, I lied. I can’t tell you the strategy because:
- It’s Complicated. Strategy gets pretty customized to individual cases. Channels are part of it; the second part is the content – and that needs a close collaboration between agency and brand to understand and balance possibilites with limitations.
- Copycats. My competitors read this blog and they copy pretty much everything I do, from service suite to marketing methods (poorly, I might add), so best not give them more stuff to mess up, or more ammo to shoot themselves in the foot with… *burn*
Feeling unsatisfied? Yeah, I would too. Not to worry, more to come as I knock this rust off me bloggin’ fingers. Until then, a shameless marketing plug to tide you over: if you’re in the market for China social media solutions: check out the Resonance China website, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Linkedin to get
spammed updated with crap useful information.