Chinese tourists are mainly composed of above average tech savvy earners that are constantly connected online. Over 83% of Chinese tourists go online using their mobile phone and average 25 hours per week online (Reuter).
Using chinese social networks is vital to attract Chinese tourists
Source infographic: Chinese tourist agency
When looking for information, Chinese tourists will go from basic information to specialised platform to e-reputation check on the search engine. They’ll use mainly Baidu to the almighty IWOM, internet word of mouth and video platforms to get a better idea of the destination or resort. The IWOM is made up of peers’ reviews and previous experience as well as influential users’ opinion on any given topic related to the country they want to visit. The way to benefit from these tech savvy users it to use Chinese social networks. Here is a list of the top 10 Chinese Social networks you need to be present on using a well-designed web marketing strategy.
Weibo is a Chinese microblogging website created by Sina in 2009. It’s one of the most popular social networking in China. It had 600 million registered users in 2014 and is used by over 30% of Internet users (Forbes). It offers many features like a news feed, photo and video sharing, and chat. Chinese people like to search for information before or during travel in the Chinese social network because they can find a lot of reviews and advice. They see the experience, bad or good, of people who have already travelled to their preferred destination and organize their travel according to their findings. They prefer to have information from this site than any other site. The most interesting feature of this social network is that it is open. All users of any given community can stay in touch with each. Content that is regularly published will be discussed, shared for maximum engagement and a boost to the tourism company’s brand awareness.
For instance, here you have the Weibo account of a travel agency in the Maldives, Scaevola Travel, the latest post has been shared 226 (转发 Zhuan Fa means forwarded), commented 80 times (讨论 Tao Lun discuss) and liked twice.
Weibo has long been plagued by a lot of fake accounts to increase artificially the number of followers into the millions. From a user perspective, to know if the official account is real it is very simple. Observe the number of shares, and replies to the posts will give a rough estimate of the number of true followers. This is also very important for the brand to measure the effect of its Weibo campaign. As a company an official account will increase the user’s trust, illustrated by a blue V. Usually a verified account like this will get more followers than normal accounts.
WeChat is a mobile app that allows users to send texts, audio messages, photos and videos, and to share their location. It was developed by Tencent, a Chinese investment holding company that also owna QQ and QZone. WeChat is the most used messaging app in China and can be used everywhere in the world because of its English version. In August 2014, WeChat had 468 million active users with 70 million outside of China(statista.com). 100 countries are represented. People share a lot of content via WeChat, such as their “in the moment” travel experiences. Unlike Weibo where users can see each other, WeChat users can only see the activity of the people they have in their friend circle.
As you can see above, only the activity of the user can be seen and not the replies.
The yellow label is the sign of a certified official account. From such accounts, brands can post news that will directly be displayed into the user’s Wechat after said users scanned the QR code of the brand at an event, or on a web page. The QR code, see below (official and service account presented below) is a very powerful tool to create a digital marketing strategy well adapted to the Chinese audience.
Youku is the most important video platform in China.
Videos are categorised. Here you find all the videos about travel (旅游 Lv You). Below each video are the number of views
Here this video is part of a user’s video channel. It’s possible to share it using QQZone (the Z star, QQ (the penguin-shaped shadow) Weibo and finally Wechat. This is without mentioning the classic embed code and link to the video in order to implement it on your website or blog for instance). One more interesting feature is the ability via downloading an app to download videos. This can be very interesting since in big cities like Shanghai or Beijing as people watch videos in the subway. Users maybe watching your videos while on their way to work.
QQ, also held by Tencent, is an instant messaging software service like WeChat. Beginning of 2015, there were 829 millions of monthly active users (Wikipedia). It offers a lot of services that include online social games, music, shopping, microblogging and group and voice chat. In general, people tend to trust the information found on QQ. Furthermore, Chinese people like to have the opinion of their friends on a lot of things in their lives: shopping, ideas and travels.
You have a wide variety of services that transforms a simple instant messaging software into a platform offering a variety of purposes such as : music, access to e-commerce platform (JD for Jingdong), access to Qzone, weather forecast, multimedia sharing and so on. The trick here is that when you login to your QQ you also login to your QQ space even if you don’t use it.
QZone was founded in 2005 by Tencent. This site allows people to write blogs, read a newspaper, share and send photographs, listen to music and watch videos. It’s a very complete site. Because it’s really easy to use, Chinese people like to update their profile at least once a day. Qzone is rapidly growing: as of January 2015, it already had 629 million users. 150 million Qzone users update their accounts at least once a month (Seeking Alpha). It makes QZone one of the most active communities. This site is perfect to share experiences while travelling and keep in touch with their friends.
Tuniu is first and foremost an online travel agency that also offers a wide range of advice as well as a place for any Chinese passionate about travel to discuss their latest experience of the hottest places to go to. It is the most active social network specialising in mass market online travel positioning itself on leisure travel. As of 2014, the Chinese SNS is blooming with a reported 84.9 YOY net revenues growth to US$115.5 million.
Kaixin001, launched in 2008, is a China-based, Facebook clone social networking site. In 2009, Kaixin001 registered users has reached 40 million, the traffic rank of Kaixin001 on Alexa and Chinarank are among the top 5 of all social networking sites in China. As of March 2015, the Chinese social network has an Alexa rank of 479 in China (Alexa). It allows for photo uploading, blogging and microblogging platforms, music sharing, games and a 1G online hard drive. Like other social media networks, people use it to share their holidays and experiences with their friends. It has an app called Where I’ve Been: it defaults to a province map of China.
This site is only dedicated to travel. As China’s newest travel website, it serves the new and socially engaged Chinese tourists. It’s a trip planner, engine of inspiration and a social tool of recommendation; this network contributes a lot before travel and during travel.
As you can see there is a wide variety of social networks tourism companies should be on. Why? Simply because most do not target the same category of people or do not position themselves the same way. Indeed, unlike in the West where the social media landscape is dominated by Facebook, in China you have a huge range of social networks, each delivers a particular type of message or in a different way. As such, being there means using the right channel for the right message delivered to the right customers.
Should a tourism company have to limit it’s efforts Weibo, Wechat and QQ platforms must be preferred. Indeed, using only these three, a well-crafted digital marketing campaign would have the potential to be visible by the vast majority of the 100 million Chinese tourists going overseas every year (CNTA).
- More on Chinese social networks
- More info on how to use digital marketing to penetrate the Chinese market