New Zealand companies looking to gain a foothold in the lucrative Chinese market need to appreciate that social media in China operates in a different way.
Companies that try and apply the same methodology they use in New Zealand (say with Facebook, Twitter or other on-line sites) will find it very difficult to make any progress in China.
Zhao Ling, Senior Consultant at Auckland based Boyd Public Relations, says while China is a country with great opportunities for New Zealand companies, people need to realise a different approach is required when it comes to social media. “Forget about Facebook and Twitter the two big sites in China are Weibo and WeChat. These are the sites that people in China really trust, but for a New Zealand company getting a presence on Weibo it is not simply a case of signing up. Weibo will run third party checks to ensure a company is trustworthy and has a good reputation before it is allowed to appear the site. It is because of this vetting process that Chinese people trust Weibo, as it is seen coming from trustworthy channels.”
Recent stats show that 80% of Chinese consumers trust a brand if they have seen it on social media. Fifty percent of Chinese consumers check products offline before they buy online and seventy five percent check prices online while shopping offline. Eighty percent read reviews on social media, and 85 percent share purchases on social media.
“Chinese consumers are passionate about engaging with foreign brands and sharing their experience with their friends, it is the most critical part of social consumption/value co-creation with regard to new product/service,” says Ling.
WeChat, is a private network for peer-to-peer messaging where brands can expect high levels of engagement and sharing. Listening to the online conversations about their products or industry is a great way for companies to grow their market and gather consumer information and feedback.
“Because of the geographic distant and trust issue, New Zealand companies need to focus on providing an integrated journey for Chinese customers through social media. If companies want further information or assistance to create a Weibo account they can contact us,” says Ling.