So many Chinese social media channels, which ones should Western brands focus on?

In the West, we may think we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to social media thanks to popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok and LinkedIn. But we’re lagging far behind when it comes to variety, scope, breadth and technical advancement, and China leads the way with cutting-edge, high-tech platforms with user bases that Western brands could only dream of.

Here are some facts that Western marketers should know:

Social media is used by around 673 million people in China, in a nation where over 900 million Chinese people are online.
The country is the biggest social media market in the world. Chinese customers use platforms to connect, share opinions and look for product recommendations.
Social media platforms in China are unique and constantly evolving, with new players coming online every year to meet demand
– For Western brands looking to grow their presence in China, it’s important to stay abreast of what is happening with these channels.

So which Chinese social media channels should we focus on?

The answer is – it depends. Yes, there are big and obvious social media platforms such as WeChat, Weibo and Douyin, but there are hundreds of others too and many of these are highly popular within certain target markets. For example, Little Red Book is very popular with females who like beauty, fashion and health and who have disposable income to spend on these products.

The factors that a Western brand might want to consider before making their platform choices are:

1. Where their target Chinese customers tend to be active – it’s vital to really know your audience and demographics first.
2. How big their budget is – the bigger platforms are heavily competitive and packed with advertising, so smaller and newer brands will have to be extremely targeted, creative or choose other platforms to reach their audience.
3. Their resources for managing Chinese social media accounts. If your brand is to be successful with this online audience, it must be actively managing its Chinese social media accounts. This means having Chinese speaking customer service representatives on hand who can deliver marketing messages, engage with comments and queries and actively manage the accounts for the best results.

Our Top Chinese Social Media Marketing Platforms


This is the biggest social media platform in China and it represents about a third of total data traffic, with users ending 45 billion WeChat messages every day. Developed by Tencent it’s a powerful multi-purpose app with social media posting, instant messaging, mobile payment and other ‘super app‘ functionalities ranging from video conferencing, moments and games to banking, shopping, bill payment, restaurant booking and location sharing. There are also millions of mini-program third-party apps. The Chinese use WeChat to carry out almost every aspect of their digital lives and its potential for marketers is vast, particularly with the superb CRM system in the background, varied advertising features and direct messaging features.

For most Western brands, WeChat will be a must-have and the secret to success will be deciding how best to leverage the platform’s features for your marketing goals.

Sina Weibo

Sina Weibo is used by over 30pc of China’s population, with 573 million active users each month; 30% of whom are under 20 years old. It is the second most prominent Chinese microblogging platform which a character limit that is reminiscent of Twitter. Again, it’s a hugely influential social media marketing platform and users can post videos, images and gifs, chat and follow, share and see trending topics. People tend to use it to read up on breaking news, learn more about hot topics, brands, products and culture and network with friends whilst following influencers. Users can also game, watch music videos, make payments and track their health. This platform is vital for business marketing, with mobile advertising being key. Many brands work with KOLs to launch multiple daily promos for targeted, intense brand awareness campaigns. It’s also possible to sell directly through the platform.


Around half of Chinese internet users use Douyin, a short video app that is known in the West as TikTok. Users create, share and engage with videos, research products, brands and services, buy online, book tickets, follow celebrities and KOLs and pay online. Females are particularly big fans, especially younger females aged 25-30 in third and fourth-tier cities. Businesses use KOLs to share branded content and launch PPC advertising.

There are other important Chinese social media platforms to know too. For example:

– Youku is one of China’s biggest video streaming platforms with over 1500 media content licence holders and plenty of professional content. It’s popular with younger users aged 35 and under who like informative, educational and entertaining content and the platform offers various marketing and advertising opportunities to brands.

– Little Red Book is very popular with females who like beauty, fashion and health and who have disposable income to spend on these products. Red Book combines social media and e-commerce functionalities, making it unique in the Chinese digital marketplace.

– Bilibili, nicknamed B Site (“B 站”), is a Chinese video sharing website based in Shanghai, themed around animation, comics, and games (ACG), where users can submit, view and add overlaid commentary on videos. The platform has more than 267 million monthly active users and is expected to surpass 400 million MAUs by 2023.

– Zhihu is the biggest online Q&A social media platform in China, like Quora. The online community is intellectual, respectful, sincere and professional. 80% of users have a degree, and 20% have degrees from overseas institutions. 76% of users also have high incomes and high spending power.

– Douban – this social networking platform is for recommending and sharing books, music and movies, based around urban life and similar to Reddit. It’s great for promoting cultural and media products to sophisticated urban users.

Jinri Toutiao – younger, tech-savvy millennials with higher purchasing powers in 1st and 2nd tier cities love this site for its instant connection to rich and accurate quality information, spanning over 100 fields of content.

Next steps to consider

Depending on your brand’s offer and target market, there may be several Chinese social media accounts that are valuable to target as part of your integrated marketing campaign. There will likely also be various routes to maximising your results, such as KOL engagement, bespoke or localised Chinese content creation, targeted Baidu PPC campaigns, integration with e-commerce platforms and so forth. The route to success lies in really understanding your customers, the Chinese market and the rich and complex world of Chinese social media marketing before you create your campaign to the best effect.

Get the help you need

Market Me China provides expert Chinese digital marketing services to Western brands across all industries. Our team of native Chinese speakers and digital marketing experts can ensure you achieve the right level of ROI for your marketing campaign, whether you are new to China business or looking to grow your position in this lucrative and fast-growing market. To get the best possible results from your next Chinese social media marketing campaign, please contact our team to discuss your needs.