Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Feb 26, 2014

How to play in China's social-media landscape in 2014: CIC

MAINLAND CHINA - China's social-media robot has been growing heads, arms and legs for the past six years. Kantar's CIC has issued its latest graphic representation of that evolution, considered one of the authoritative references in the industry.

How to play in China's social-media landscape in 2014: CIC

While mobility is a worldwide trend, cross-screen mobility is a major feature of the company's latest social-media landscape (click on the image below to see it at full size). While PC + mobile access is still the predominant distribution format of most platforms, some emerging but popular platforms offer only mobile access. This sends a signal to marketers that they could have a mobile-first agenda in 2014, according to CIC.

The 2014 infographic divides into two parts: ‘Social Marketing Core Platforms’ and ‘Interest Communities for Target Segmentation’.

1. Social Marketing Core Platforms

This section refers to platforms on which large numbers of users spend significant time. They could be prioritised as the major battlefields for rapid and cost-effective reach and exposure. The value chain of social marketing in China begins with awareness-building as a first step, then moves to content/engagement and finally to service/transactions.

The section of the landscape includes nine types of platforms with different value propositions: instant messaging (IM), video/music, blogging, microblogging, SNS, BBS, mobile-social, social life and e-commerce.

IM and video/music platforms mainly serve the ‘awareness-building’ objective, given their broad user bases. By the end of 2013, according to CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center) data, IM users and video/music users reached 532 million and 428 million, respectively, with penetration at 86.2 per cent and 69.3 per cent of the total online population.

Blogs, microblogs, SNS and BBS platforms serve the ‘content/engagement’ purpose, together with awareness-building. The key formula  is leveraging relevant content on these platforms to motivate consumers to interact among themselves or with brands. The final goal is to establish fan communities in which the brand plays a core role.

At the same time, microblogs are still the best marketing platforms to gain fast and far-reaching buzz volume. Marketers could curate the right social content and create customised consumer experiences that are appropriate to their brands.

Mobile-social, social life and e-commerce serve the ‘service/transactions’ objective. For example, Dianping can link brands and consumers by allowing a space for tactical promotions. WeChat public accounts, being closed-loop communities equipped with mobile payments and seamlessly connected CRM systems, are innovative in China. Marketers could build up direct-purchase intent with the service functions of these platforms, according to CIC.

2. Interest Communities for Target Segmentation

These also include nine interest-community verticals: travel-social, dating network, business-social, enterprise-social, light blog, photo-social, short-video social, Wiki/Q&A, and social e-commerce. Brands could match the positioning and targeting strategy of their products with the appropriate vertical to tailor-make a social marketing programme, CIC said.

Interest communities represent natural segmentations of consumers and present themselves as very targeted media offerings. However, as some of these platforms and their related value in the social marketing chain are not yet fully mature, marketers may want to wait and see, according to CIC.

In this report, CIC combines its own research in the digital space and data from CNNIC's ‘The 33rd Statistical Report on the Internet Development in China’.

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