Navigating through the array of Chinese social networks has become a battlefield once only seen in the middle of Bagdad. However there are a few basics one can do when establishing an effective social media plan to connect and ultimately sell your brand to Chinese. This goes for all Chinese, not just the 1.4 billion residing in a city ending with 'jing' (Or any other city in China).
1. Forget facebook and Twitter. Yes this may be tough to digest; however it's just a complete fallacy if you expect to tap into the conversations, friend networks and forums that mandarin/Cantonese speaking Chinese populate. They are blocked in China by Government censorship (deal with it) and the local networks have had a massive head start to establish themselves as global players. Chinese everywhere of any relationship to the mainland frequent sites such as Douban, Renren, Kaixin001 and they shop on TaoBao. How much of your communication is directed on these channels?
2. Use Blogger Influence. No one is more influential than a peer to peer referral. Chinese especially adopt their favorite bloggers as their own. Be sure to research key online bloggers whom have a large following within your category and engage with them. Include them in your strategy, allow for gifts, pay (if need be) and support them—it will pay you back ten-fold.
3. Understand Latest Online language. It seems obvious and one would easily contuse this with just know in the language—Chinese simplified characters that is. But a savvy online social media strategy includes effective conversational marketing and content driving with up-to-date fashionable online language. It can change from month to month, so be sure to stay abreast of it and most of all use it. If you haven't guessed yet, Chinese is the most used language online.
The Chinese social network space offers a plethora of opportunity to create dedicated online social media campaigns to drive traffic to your destination. Either playing out on a host's network (aka Renren fan page) or driving direct to your own exclusive website. These networks each offer pro's and con's when participating, so be sure to gain local insight as to where to invest your time. A big network doesn't mean it's easy to drive value from it, unless you plan on investing big dollars—in which case you can afford to go everywhere.
Insights provided by Mailman.