With over 1.4 billion people, China makes up 20% of the world’s population. This poses a great opportunity for businesses to expand their customer base to include Chinese audiences. With nearly 1 billion Chinese social media users, China is definitely one of the largest markets your business can tap into digitally.
Weibo, WeChat, and Youku are some of the common ones your business can get started with. To help you understand the market fully before investing in it, here are 12 popular social media platforms in China and how they work.
Popular social media channels
|Chinese social media platform||Western counterpart||Best for|
|Targeted ads, engagement|
|Awareness, online shopping|
|Youku||YouTube||Target more potential customers|
|Tencent QQ||Targeted ads|
|Momo||Tinder||Advanced targeting and increased sales|
|Baidu Tieba||Niche marketing, cheap SEO, and engagement|
|Maimai||Finding investors and employees|
|Zhihu||Quora for professionals||Brand awareness, targeting a more affluent audience|
|Douyin||Tik Tok||Marketing buzz, better data|
|Kuaishou||Kwai||Engagement, online shopping|
|Xiaohongshu||Instagram, Pinterest, and Amazon||Brand awareness, online shopping|
|Douban||IMDb, Goodreads, Spotify, and Reddit||Engagement, niche marketing|
Who uses WeChat: 1.2+ billion people, with 80% of them under 50.
How WeChat works
WeChat is the equivalent of a combination of various apps — Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Skype, and internet banking. As a multifunctional platform, it’s one of the most useful social media platforms in China.
The average user spends 66 minutes a day on WeChat, and the majority of users open the app over ten times daily. It’s a treasure trove of opportunities for your business.
Your business can create advertising and engagement to generate loyalty and strengthen your brand community through WeChat.
WeChat can help you personalise content marketing services through the “Wow” function, location-based marketing, and Moment ads. The HTML5 campaigns allow you to create innovative puzzles, games, and surveys to increase your sales and acquire more valuable insights about your customers.
Who uses Weibo: 516 million people, with 80% of them under 30.
How Weibo works
Weibo is a Chinese microblogging platform that’s popular among young people under 30. Unlike its western counterpart, Twitter, Weibo doesn’t limit your messages to 280 characters. As such, you can blog about topics that your followers can discuss at length.
Weibo can help your business in building awareness and funnelling paying customers. As the birthplace of viral news, interesting content gains popularity quickly on Weibo. Trending topics on the platform are also swiftly picked up by other Chinese social media channels.
Your business can leverage on stories and live streams to give people something to talk about. That will help you gain more popularity amongst people who aren’t loyal customers just yet.
E-commerce integration on Weibo will also allow you to link your products in your posts. 82% of Weibo users prefer to shop online and have various payment methods linked to their Weibo accounts. This e-commerce integration generates less resistance in the purchase funnel and directs your customers seamlessly through the discovery and purchase journey.
Who uses Youku: 580 million people; most users are between 20 and 40 years old.
How Youku works
Youku is the Chinese counterpart of YouTube. It primarily focuses on streaming long-form videos.
While Youku has lost some popularity during the last few years as Tencent Video gained more of the limelight, it’s still one of the best social media platforms in China for professional videos.
Youku lets you target more potential customers. Your business can utilise Youku to explain to people why your products are essential in solving their problems.
Youku’s online viewing analytics tool also helps you to personalise your messages and ads, such as in-stream ads, banners, pause ads, and branded viral videos.
4. Tencent QQ
Who uses Tencent QQ: 731 million people; 82.1% of users are between 10 to 39 years old.
How Tencent QQ works
Tencent QQ is a Chinese social media platform for instant messaging. It’s like WhatsApp, but without needing a phone number to create an account.
Your business can leverage on Tencent QQ to create targeted ads. Use it to publish various ads to specific groups of people. You can also take advantage of their paid marketing options; Tencent QQ will create your ads and publish them in the right zones.
Who uses Momo: 114.4 million people; 80% of users are 19-32 years old.
How Momo works
Momo, aka Chinese Tinder, is used by people who want to make new friends. Momo allows users to text, share photos and locations. It uses location and interest options to match users.
You can utilise Momo to create advanced targeting and increase sales. Its algorithm helps you target audiences with specific interests, locations, and demographics, pushing your products to people who will be interested.
6. Baidu Tieba
Who uses Baidu Tieba: 1+ billion people
How Baidu Tieba works
Similar to Reddit, Baidu Tieba is a social network forum where you can search through over 8 million boards and discuss various topics with like-minded people.
With nearly 300 million active members each month, there’s a huge pool of business opportunities and content marketing services to tap into.
Niche marketing, cheap SEO, and customer engagement are a few ways you can use Baidu Tieba for your content marketing and business development.
Baidu Tieba is home to many specific topics, which means you can target the audience that’s most likely to buy your products. Although ads aren’t allowed on Baidu Tieba, you can funnel more paying customers through relevant content.
By using relevant content, you can pull more people to your website, thereby increasing your organic searches and traffic. It’s an easy way to increase your SEO without specifically spending money on it.
Besides, if your posts are relevant, they’ll engage more users, strengthening your business and its community.
Who uses Maimai: 50 million users, mostly young professionals.
How Maimai works
Maimai, or the Chinese equivalent of LinkedIn, helps companies find more talent. Users can build their careers and discuss job-related topics on this platform.
Although Maimai has roughly 30 million users — a lot less than other Chinese social media sites — it’s a pretty niche platform for you to find the right customers.
You can use Maimai to find out more about the Chinese market. Gain useful insights about your users’ browsing habits and what they’re interested in.
If you join job-related topics, you can understand more about their work ethics. Maimai can also help you scout top talents for your company, or adapt your business to the Chinese market faster.
Who uses Zhihu: 220 million people, mostly upper-class professionals.
How Zhihu works
Also known as the Chinese Quora, Zhihu is the best Q&A social media platform for more affluent individuals in China. Zhihu is a professional platform where people can get insights from specialists.
You can use Zhihu to build brand awareness and target more affluent audiences. By posting edifying answers, you can attract more customers and build brand visibility and trust with wealthy professionals in China.
You can also use this opportunity to explain more about your products if you have a very technical or niche offering. Plus, answering more questions helps you build your SEO and gain more authority. Your answers are visible for years and will always be revisited by users if they are useful. Through , Zhihu can help you build long-term branding.
Who uses TikTok/Douyin: 1 billion people, with 83.5% of them under 35.
How TikTok/Douyin works
We’re all familiar with TikTok, which is also known as Douyin in China. This app allows you to create short, viral videos under 15 seconds. You can also connect with your friends and followers easily.
The main difference between TikTok and Youku is the video length. Longer videos are better for building credibility and awareness, while short videos are better for engagement and becoming viral.
Your business can leverage on TikTok to create marketing buzz and gather more data about your customers.
A lot of businesses work with various TikTok influencers to promote their brands and attract the younger pool of customers. One popular TikTok tactic is to create challenges to help make your brand viral. This is especially useful when you launch a new product or offer.
For instance, Ctrip, the most popular Chinese travel agency, encouraged people to post travel photos. Apart from creating marketing buzz, Ctrip earned more than 4 billion views within a week, and even collected data on top travelling cities for other marketing purposes.
Who uses Kuaishou/Kwai: 300 million people, with 70% of them under 30.
How Kuaishou/Kwai works
Kuaishou is another short-video sharing platform that’s popular in China. Known as Kwai outside of China, this app started out as a GIF generator tool.
This Tencent-backed app is also the main competitor of TikTok, and is currently the second most popular short video app in China.
Like TikTok, Kuaishou allows you to make short videos and start livestreams to engage with your audience on a more personal level to sell your products. For instance, you can livestream the process of packing a product, creating a sense of trust with your audience.
Through these features, Kuaishou boasts a strong fan relationship between key opinion leaders (KOL) and their followers. This also makes it a good platform to help you increase your conversions.
Who uses Xiaohongshu: 100 million users, in which 70% to 80% of them are women.
How Xiaohongshu works
Xiaohongshu is a Chinese social media and e-commerce platform that lets people share content, browse product reviews, and purchase items. Users are also able to read, comment, and bookmark product reviews. Essentially, Xiaohongshu is like a mix of Instagram, Pinterest, and Amazon.
The platform rewards users for posting suggestions and advice to followers regularly, so your brand can leverage it to build trust and drive interest in your products. For instance, you can create helpful guides on how to use your products.
Alternatively, you can also work with influencers to create sponsored posts on the platform to promote your products.
Do note that as a brand or retailer, you’ll need to apply to join the platform.
Who uses Douban: 160 million registered users
How Douban works
Used mostly by college-educated, white-collar urbanites, Douban is an interest-based social networking platform. More specifically, it’s a movie, book, and review site, as well as an online forum. It’s like a mix of IMDb, Goodreads, Spotify, and Reddit.
Besides doing reviews on books, movies, and music, Douban has discussion groups where users can discuss niche topics on culture, travel, photography, fashion, and lifestyle.
Marketers can use this feature to develop a digital presence in China and engage with specific interest groups. This includes putting out relevant and interesting content on the various groups.