Social media is now one of the most important facets of internet marketing and it no longer has borders. Since the implementation of the Great Firewall of China, many have thought that the Chinese part of the internet is a lost cause to do business. That couldn’t be further from the truth, as even mainland China has over 600 million social media users.
Here are some main points as to why you should not be discouraged from launching your marketing campaign in the Chinese market:
Chinese users will bypass it anyway
The “Great Firewall” is not too difficult to be bypassed using VPN networks. Chinese users will access western social media websites using these paid networks so that they can consume information that the government does not want them to see. The amount of rouge internet users are in the millions and that number is rapidly growing.
According to Statista, there are over 54 million Chinese Facebook users in 2017. In a report from Techcrunch in 2016, there were over 10 million users from China. Information may also be searched via the Hong Kong version of Google since it is no longer available in the mainland.
Don’t discount Taiwan and Hong Kong
Taiwan, although it is claimed by the mainland, is as free and open as most other Western countries. Considering that their income levels are multitudes higher than the average mainland worker, it can be a profitable group to target.
Here are some Encouraging statistics about Taiwan: • A population of over 23 million. • Over 20 million internet users. • A high GDP per capita of $31,900.00.
Here are some statics about Hong Kong: • A population of over 7.3 million. • Over 75% of the population are internet users. • A very high GDP per capita of 43,600.00
As you can see from above, there is a lot of money in these two small countries. Although they both have Chinese cultural foundations, the lack of censorship keeps them open to western media and ideas.
Don’t Forget about the millions of Chinese Diaspora
Consider the fact that there are over 50 million Chinese-speaking diasporas around the world, with a majority of them in high-income countries. These Chinese have unfiltered access to Western social media networks. The population is lower than mainland China but this target group of people has much higher expendable incomes.
Here are some of the major populations overseas: • The United States of America - 5 million+ • Thailand - 10 million+ • Malaysia - 7 million+ • Singapore - 2.5 million+ • Canada - 1.7 million+ • South Korea - 2.5 million+
There are Chinese Alternatives
The internet may be heavily restricted and monitored, but that doesn’t mean that hundreds of millions of Chinese internet users cannot become social media addicts. In fact, social media is hotter than ever - but it is mostly restricted to national alternatives.
Some of the top social media networks in China: • Sina Weibo - The copycat version of Twitter. • Tencent QQ - One of the oldest and widely used instant messaging platforms. • Toudou Youku - The only alternative to Youtube that China has. • Zhihu - A similar platform to Quora or Yahoo Answers. • Meipai - An app that is similar to Instagram.
Google and other Western networks may make a comeback in Mainland China
Since 2017, there have been rather secretive business talks between Google and the Chinese government. Press releases have hinted that the Chinese government is interested in re-introducing some of Google’s services, especially Google Scholar to benefit the academic sector. If agreements can be made, it would only be a matter of time before the Chinese government loosens restrictions on other websites
With the hundreds of millions of internet users around the corner, there will be quite the flood of Chinese speakers on Western social media websites. This is why it would be a good idea to get a head start on this untapped portion of the market before it becomes widespread.
Considering Mandarin (Simplified) vs. Cantonese (Traditional) Mandarin is the most widely adopted version of Chinese since it has been spread by the educational system of the Communist regime. The traditional version of Chinese is still alive in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and isolated regions of Southern China.
Simply put, Mandarin is the best option for mass media marketing since it is understood by Cantonese speakers. Also, take into consideration that most of the Chinese diaspora around the world are from mainland China. If your campaign is specifically targeting HK or Taiwan, then it would be perfectly acceptable to include traditional symbols.
You cannot ignore the massive economy and population that China has and the potential marketing opportunities at bay. In 2017, economic growth had picked up by 6.9% and expendable incomes are growing rapidly. If the hype of China overtaking the United States as the world’s superpower ever becomes true, it would be wise build a social media presence in the middle of this bustling new market.