China Marketing Strategy

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China has the largest global internet user base, with over 500 million active users. more than double that of the United States.

It also has the world’s most active social media environment, with over 300 million people using various platforms, such as  blogs, social networking sites, microblogs, and  online communities.

Businesses looking to succeed in this market must build a strong online presence on relevant social media channels and leverage the power of opinion leaders to build trust with their target audience.

Check out our Complete Guide to Doing Business in China and find out how you can improve your business operations in China.

Social Media Marketing in China

China’s strict Internet regulations hinder consumers from accessing popular websites widely used in other parts of the world. Social media marketing can be challenging due to strict restrictions that limit access to popular websites like Youtube, Instagram, Facebook and Google. As a result, companies must use local social media channels such as WeChat, Baidu, Weibo, Douyin, Zhihu and Bilibili to effectively reach their target audience.

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Popular Chinese Digital Marketing Channels for Brand Promotion

  • WeChat

With over 1 billion monthly active users, WeChat is a critical channel for businesses to conduct social media marketing and reach potential customers. Brands can use the platform to share short videos, live stream content, and regular posts to keep customers engaged and informed.

  • Weibo

Weibo, often referred to as the “”Twitter of China,” has a massive user base of 500 million active daily users who rely on the platform for news updates. It is a great platform for businesses to share short, informative content, as a way to connect with customers.

  • Douyin

A popular short video platform with over 700 million monthly active users, Douyin is a great platform for businesses reach a wider audience, particularly for brands that want to provide information and entertainment. In China, Douyin is the most widely used live stream app, boasting about 70% of live stream users. Moreover, over 80% of Douyin’s users consume live stream content.

  • Bilibili

Bilibili is a popular video content marketing platform in China that features TV shows, movies, and animations. More than 90% of the content on the platform is user-generated, making it highly attractive to younger audiences.

Brands can leverage Bilibili to connect with content creators for their marketing campaigns or use it as a video-hosting channel to reach a broader audience.

  • Baidu

Baidu, China’s primary search engine, dominates the industry due to strict censorship laws that limit foreign platforms. The platform operates by indexing search results based on user keywords and also paid advertising, requiring foreign companies to optimize their Mandarin content and search rankings to appeal to Chinese consumers.

As a company, Baidu Inc. offers more than just a search engine, with its vast ecosystem of applications and services, such as online advertising, AI, and cloud-based storage, all in Mandarin. Therefore, International marketers must be proficient in Mandarin to navigate these platforms and expand their reach with Chinese users. Baidu’s applications can be leveraged as a marketing tool. For example, businesses can use Baike, the platforms online encyclopedia to improve local search rankings and Tieba, an online discussion forum for SEO optimization.

Why is Marketing Important to Succeeding in the Chinese Market?

The Chinese market is highly fragmented, with many regional and local players. As such, a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy may be ineffective. Instead, it is essential to tailor your content to specific regions and demographics of your target audience. A successful strategy can involve researching local cultural nuances, preferences, and trends to generate content that better resonates with your target audience.

Compared to Western consumers, Chinese customersprioritize relationships more heavily. As such, content that establishes thought leadership or showcases customer testimonials can be particularly effective. Engaging, informative and relevant  content is critical in building trust and establishing a strong brand presence.

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5 Top Strategies for Effective Social Media and Content Marketing

  • Keyword research

Build your search engine visibility by conducting keyword research and SEO. This will also help you understand the potential customer base. Conducting keyword research and SEO will help increase search engine visibility and enable an improved understanding of the potential customer base. Baidu’s free keyword research tool, (AdChina’s Keyword Research), offers keyword analysis and relevant data such as volume and CPC, and are similar to tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush.

  • Content marketing

Create good content with engaging storytelling that connects with consumers is core to a successful digital marketing strategy. Building a brand with strong values communicated consistently through content marketing is crucial for long-term growth.

  • Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) or Influencers

Brands can benefit from using social media influencers and cultural icons for digital marketing in China, as they often report higher conversion rates than traditional advertising models and celebrity endorsements.

Partnering with relevant KOLs and KOCs on Chinese E-commerce platforms can  occur in the form of sponsored posts, requested reviews, product posts, giveaways or hosted livestreams.

  • Social e-commerce

As social media platforms and applications continue to proliferate, it’s crucial for marketers to have a comprehensive understanding of each platforms’ demographics and customer base. This knowledge is critical for identifying the most optimal channels to reach their target audience.

In China, live streaming and short videos have emerged as two popular trends on social media platforms, with the former offering a shopping mode that enables real-time product sales through an embedded link.

Additionally , short videos have become increasingly popular due to apps like Douyin alongside the integration with M-commerce. Such applications have allowed brands to track direct sales and revenue on various platforms s like Taobao, XiaoHongShu, Bilibili, and Kuaishou.

  • Xiachen marketing

The majority of consumers in China are expected to come from lower-tier cities, where there are over 930 million people and where consumption is estimated to increase from $3.3 trillion in 2017 to $8.4 trillion by 2030.

Lower-tier cities in China, which are home to more than 50% of all Chinese digital consumers, offer a huge opportunity for international businesses as they remain relatively underserved by popular e-commerce sites.

Potential Challenge When Managing Digital Marketing in China

The Chinese government exercises significant control over the country’s media landscape, so content marketers need to be mindful of censorship concerns and avoid sensitive topics. This can involve conducting careful research and consulting with local experts to ensure that your content is compliant with local regulations and cultural sensitivities.

MSA has supported foreign companies with their business set-up needs in China for over a decade. With the support of qualified team of experts, we can help you make the most of opportunities in China while ensuring regulatory compliance. Contact us to learn more!