Icon Agency’s resident China specialists Isabella Rum and Jonathan Ding offer essential insights into the challenges and opportunities of marketing to Chinese Australians using the social media platforms Weibo and WeChat.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ ‘2016 Cultural Diversity in Australia’ census, 5.6 per cent of Australian residents, or approximately 1.2 million people, identify themselves as having Chinese ancestry. This makes Chinese Australians one of the largest groups of overseas Chinese people in the world.
For Australian marketing and communications professionals, this group represents an enormous and often un-tapped, consumer demographic for their brands. And the platforms of choice for engaging Chinese Australian consumers are Weibo and WeChat.
Weibo versus WeChat – what is the difference?
Microblogging platform used by over 360m Chinese
Hugely popular with younger generation
Great for reach (think of Weibo like a huge stadium)
Can be used on mobile or desktop.
An open platform with information and messages available to the public
A one-to-many dissemination, which focuses on speed and openness
Messages and news are quickly distributed to Weibo users
Ads on Weibo are public
Weibo users are not necessarily friends. However, they may have similar interests on topics such as food, travel or celebrities
Weibo users mainly use the channel for getting alerts to breaking news stories and following celebrities
Primarily accessed via mobile devices (there is a basic version for desktop)
A selective and closed platform with information and messages only available to friends
A one-to-one/ two-way communication. The platform respects privacy
Great for connecting and influencing (think of WeChat as a private meeting room)
Messages and news are quickly shared among users’ friend circle
Through a public subscription account, one push message with up to eight rich content tweets per day allowing in-depth knowledge and information sharing
Ads on WeChat are targeted, adding more value when shared with friends.
WeChat users use the platform to communicate to their friends and relatives. They don’t necessarily share the same interests but they are real friends in ‘real life’
WeChat users mainly use the channel to connect with friends
Top tips for how to use Weibo and WeChat when marketing to Australian Chinese
Set clear objectives. Is your objective to drive sales; increase awareness; influence brand perceptions; or shape opinion? Fit your strategy to meet the objectives.
Understand your audience. Weibo and WeChat have clearly defined demographics and behavioural profiles. Consider age, location, purchasing behaviours, channels they use, interests etc.
Focus on the content. As with all social media, content is king. Quality, relevance and timeliness are paramount. Authenticity is a must. Use qualified Chinese language experts to check/edit copy.
Plan your campaign. Develop a budget and detailed roll-out plan, listing time of day to post, how often, and format of content.
Be culturally aware. Design with care; contents leveraging on the social trends in China have broader influence.
Include an incentive. Discounts, gift-with-purchase, two-for-one offers all play well with Chinese audiences. Competitions are another great device for keeping users engaged and coming back to your site.
Tap into influencers. Chinese social media influencers can have huge reach and influence. Focus on finding the best fit for your brand/campaign and budget.
Integrate PR and social. Extend the campaign’s influence by using PR to generate earned media in China (particularly if working with Chinese celebrity influencers).
Show you care. Prompt users to engage with your brand by partnering with a charity or cause.
Measure, adjust and repeat. Tap into the data for insights and learnings. Adjust if necessary and keep refining with each campaign.