China’s explosive social media landscape


Social media in China have exploded in the last years, thanks to China’s massive mobile internet consumption which is estimated to reach RMB2.16 trillion in 2015, according to Lu Wei, Secretary General of the Internet Society of China.

This leads to revolution in the digital landscape of luxury brands in China in recent years. Both global and local luxury brands in China are increasingly using social mobile apps to drive awareness amongst their mobile-savvy consumers.

For example, in May, Germany’s Montblanc, maker of writing instruments and watches, has launched an interactive in-app game called “Daban” on China’s most popular social network, WeChat, a cross-platform social mobile app that has nearly 400 million monthly active users.

The game promotes Montblanc’s interpretation of Daban, meaning “big boss” in Chinese. In this case, the brand is promoting its ideal Daban, meaning a consumer who “behaves in line with the brand’s values of elegance, sophistication and leadership”.

Montblance Wechat Account

To play, Montblanc followers submit photographs of themselves or a friend. Once uploaded, the community of Montblanc enthusiasts will rate the photo to decide if the individual possesses the characteristics of a Daban. (Click here to see how it works.)  

This clearly demonstrates the growing importance of social marketing, which often refers to platforms with a very broad user base and absorb significant portion of user time, in China.

According to The 33rd Statistical Report on the Internet Development in China, the top social marketing core platforms in China are: Instant Messaging (IM such as WeChat), video/music, blog, microblog, SNS, bulletin board system (BBS), mobile social, social life and e-commerce.

They serve different purposes:

  • Awareness building: IM and video/music platforms are mainly used to build awareness. By the end of 2013, IM users and video users reached 532 million and 428 million respectively, with penetration at 86.2% and 69.3%.

  • Engagement: Blog, microblog, SNS and BBS are primarily used to drive engagement and leverage relevant content to motivate consumers to interact among themselves or with brands.

  • Service and transactions: Mobile social, social life and e-commerce are often used to provide service and drive transactions. For example, Dianping, a social life platform like Yelp, links local businesses and consumers, enabling businesses to understand consumer's specific needs and drive promotions.