Beyond Facebook: social media marketing opportunities in China and Japan

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Twitter and Facebook are becoming more popular in Asia, but marketers operating in the region need to be aware of the many other made-for-Asia social media platforms.

Here’s a list of some of the lesser-known platforms exploding in popularity across the Asia Pacific region.

China

China’s Great Firewall means many western social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are blocked in China. As a result, China has it’s own homegrown counter-parts.

Weibo

Weibo is China’s equivalent to Twitter. It has more than 280 million users – almost 90% of them on mobile. Boasting more than 800,000 advertisers, advertising revenue reached almost $130 million in Q2 2016.

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Youku Tudou

Youku-Tudou is China’s equivalent of YouTube but it differs slightly in that it also features online television streaming services similar to Hulu and Netflix.

Currently Youku has 900 major brand advertisers using its platform. These include Apple, Coca-Cola, P&G, and Sumsung. It offers brands access to its 200 million unique monthly visitors, many of them educated professionals aged between 18 and 40.

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WeChat

Then, there is WeChat owned by Tencent, which is often compared with messenger app WhatsApp. Except that it’s not. WeChat is so much more versatile and includes a wallet and ecommerce features.

WeChat has grown rapidly in just a few years to become China’s most dominant social commerce app, with more than 700 million users.

While instant messaging remains the main function of WeChat, the app sits in a category of its own. It has become a model for social commerce and was a key feature in this year’s Mary Meeker Internet Trends report, as the West finally plays catch up on this versatile application. In short, WeChat offers many functions and services similar to Facebook, Amazon, Skype, Tinder, taxi, movie, restaurant and other booking services, as well as mobile payment systems, all rolled into one.

It’s hard to imagine buying a plane ticket on a mobile app, but China Southern Airlines ticket sales on WeChat, nearly tripled in 2015. This serves as just one example of the different ways brands are using WeChat for ecommerce.

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Japan

Line and Naver

I have previously written about Line as a business platform.

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However, in addition to this social messaging app, parent company Naver offers other marketing and advertising platforms for businesses, especially around search.

Just like Baidu in China and Yahoo in Japan, Naver is not just a search engine. It’s really a portal site of multiple services. In addition to the standard search advertising, you can advertise through other content on the site based on a user’s demographic and interests.

Naver’s main service in Japan is Naver Matome, a content curation site, rather that a search engine. With more than 1 billion page views each month, it offers unique content marketing opportunities for businesses.

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Hatena

Hatena is another popular Japanese site concentrated on user generated content (UGC) and content curation services. It offers several types of advertising and marketing services for businesses, including in-feed native ads and display ads.

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Hatena has 4.8 million members with 300-million page views per month. Almost 50% of users are in their ’30s and ’40s. Hatena is different from other social media platforms in that it has strong user bases in professional sectors such as engineering, IT, and communication services.

These are particularly relevant audience groups for B2B businesses. Interestingly, Hatena users have 12 times more followers than the average Twitter user. This is a great platform for businesses considering influencer-marketing strategies for the Japanese market.

Fragmentation in Asia can be an intimidating prospect for western marketers. However understanding the different social platforms in the region can help brands better localize their marketing strategies for regional markets.

The key is to identify the right medium, then establish which ones have a presence amongst your company’s target audience.

*Do you want to learn more about the Chinese market? Join us at ClickZ Live Shanghai, September 19-21 for a fantastic line up of key industry figures including HTC’s Alvin Wang Graylin, Tencent’s Jeff Kwek and JD.com’s Joey Bian. For the full agenda of our digital marketing conference in Shanghai, speakers list and ticket information, visit our event website here.

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