Organic virality has been over for brands on Facebook and Twitter for a while now. But brands scratching their heads about why their WeChat figures are so low might find some small comfort in knowing they are not alone. A recent study found that brands struggle to achieve views over 100,000 on the platform. Part of the blame falls on the design of subscription and service accounts, but it turns out KOLs are achieving much better numbers, so it’s also likely that brands are not giving users the content they want. Hope is not lost though, as there were a number of campaigns that went viral on WeChat over the Lunar New Year. One of which reached millions of people starting with a budget of only 3000RMB.
Starbucks may be seen as a digital leader in the US, but until recently it lagged behind the rapid pace of digital developments in China. Case in point: Starbucks was way behind the pace with its adoption of mobile payments in China. But the company is adapting rapidly, and the new website shows a raft of improvements in UX, design and content that will help position Starbucks as a digital leader.
The convenience of Mobike’s dockless bike-sharing model has proven irresistible for urbanites, but also unleashed its fair share of disorder on city streets around China. A big part of that disorder is due to the sheer quantity of bikes, but bad user behaviour has also exacerbated the problem with bikes being left blocking sidewalks, locked in people’s homes or vandalized. To combat this, Mobike is introducing a user rating system that will see the worst users charged up to 100 times the normal rate, and excellent users given incentives. The catch: the whole system will rest on user-reporting.
The two are a natural fit. Social is all about friendship and community, and both these things are often built on shared interests. Consumers in China often go to e-commerce apps to discover new products and like-minded people. Taobao now has a feed for shops to post on regularly anda live-streaming feature that has turned people into influencers. Here Jing Daily takes a look at 3 other businesses making the most of the benefits the marriage between social and e-commerce offers.
Let this be the final nail in the coffin of the opinion that China’s tech sector is full of copycats. From the beginning, that belief was spread on the back of misguided assumptions. Sure, when companies like Xiaomi launched they took a lot of inspiration from Apple. But now they have developed their own business models and responded to the unique tastes of the market in China.
KOL and influencer marketing is so popular precisely because of the communities and fans that spring up around them. But sometimes, the connection that fans feel for their favorite stars can become a little extreme. Fan clubs are becoming increasingly popular around top celebrities in China, and club members are motivated by their obsessions to do a range of things, from donating to certain charities, to hiring planes to sky-type the star’s name above LA. Fights have even broken out between fans of two stars who are part of the same band. These are the people who will turn against a brand if any missteps with their beloved stars are made.
Both Weibo and Miaopai have set up their own KOL platforms through which brands are required to cooperate with KOLs. The motivations for this are easy to see when you consider that Weibo’s KOL channel takes a fee equivalent to 100% of the KOLs fee (Miaopai is more reasonable with a fee of 20-30%). Nowadays on both platforms suspected sponsored content is taken down if it has not been through the platform’s own KOL channel first. The goal is to force all KOL content through the platform channels to generate more revenue.
Organic reach is over for brands on Facebook, and according to new research, has always been tougher for brands on WeChat. The setup of brand accounts on WeChat introduces a lot of friction in the process of getting users to see the content, and posts can get lost among the noise of daily life on the platform. Engagement with brands is not as high as engagement with KOLs – a clear indication that KOLs know more about the kind of content users want to consume than brands do. A fact that is evidenced by a lot of bland brand content on the platform. More creativity, a deeper understanding of what good content means to consumers, and clever use of KOLs can help improve the situation for brands.
Virality on Wechat is a tough game, but not impossible. A few campaigns achieved impressive numbers over the New Year holiday by playing on the key themes of family and togetherness. One plucky startup surprised itself by going viral on a budget of only 3000RMB. PALAPALA developed a superbly designed site that allowed users to create a cartoon family New Year photo using a variety of fixed elements. The aesthetic was a hit with middle-class consumers from China’s large cities, and the ability to drop as many elements as you want allowed users with a creative side to get abstract with their “family” picture.
China may be leading the world in many ways, but sadly attitudes to women and families can still be very conservative. Predictably, this leads to some incredibly trite and even offensive contributions to the marketing mix on Women’s Day. Problematic posts this year implied women should only be enjoyed for their beauty, or that women only care about buying clothes and finding a man. The brands who made these mistakes paid the price on social media.
While China’s tech companies quickly advanced from copying to innovation, there are still many products on sale in China that look suspiciously like well-known products. Rather than viewing them as simple copycats, this article from Jing Daily suggests that they can sometimes be seen as tributes to the original. “I like it, so I am allowed to create one just like it” the article suggests is a common attitude. And, in reality, this attitude offers a starting point on the road to innovation for many entrepreneurs. Another part of the picture is a set of entrepreneurs who see their lower price points as a disruption to the often obscene-seeming price points of the most expensive luxury brands. One thing the article doesn’t address: the issue of fakes being sold as originals and damaging brand image in the process.