China Insights

CIC 2014 China Social Media Landscape

Sam Flemming

Global Digital Account Director

Media Social 13.03.2014 / 08:00

0313-CIC 2014 China Social Media Landscape-small

Kantar Media agency CIC has witnessed dynamic changes in the China Social Media Landscape for the sixth year. Every year, CIC publishes an update of its latest developments.

This infographic has long been recognized by the industry as the most authoritative reference, which highlights and helps decipher and navigate the complexity of China social media dynamics.

In the past year, we have seen that different social and digital platforms offer different marketing value propositions, and in particular, the rapid surge in access of mobile internet has generated a much faster and deeper impact in China, compared to other western markets.

The 2014 landscape portrayal is split into two parts, "Social Marketing Core Platforms" and "Interest Communities for Target Segmentation." Starting from inside out, the platforms rings are "International Benchmarks," "Cross-screen Distribution," "Platform Category" and "Business Strategies."

1.      Social Marketing Core Platforms

Social marketing core platforms refer to platforms with a very broad user base and absorb significant portion of user time. They could be prioritized marketing battle fields for most brands. Combining 10 years of research and consulting practice of CIC in the digital space, and data from "The 33rd Statistical Report on the Internet Development in China" from CNNIC, we have listed nine social marketing core platforms: Instant Messaging (IM including WeChat in CNNIC survey), Video/Music, Blog, Microblog, SNS, BBS, Mobile Social, Social Life and E-commerce.

We believe that all the social marketing core platforms with different value propositions are shaping the core value chain of social marketing in China. We might use a simple marketing value chain "Awareness Building  Content / Engagement  Service / Transactions" to tease out these platforms as a first step.

* IM (Instant Messaging) and Video/Music platforms mainly serve the "Awareness Building" objective, given their large user base. 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%. By leveraging these platforms as media, brands can get rapid and cost effective reach and exposure.

* Blogs, Microblog, SNS and BBS mainly serve the "Content/Engagement" objective. While these platforms may also serve the "Awareness Building" purpose, the key formula there is leveraging relevant contents on these platforms to motivate consumers to interact among themselves or with brands. The final goal is to establish fans communities that your brand plays a core role in.

* Mobile Social, Social Life and E-commerce mainly serve the "Service/Transactions" objective. For example, WeChat public service account is virtual CRM or the public window that allows marketers face their consumers and provide transactions and service. Dianping, a social life platform like Yelp, links local businesses and consumers, allowing businesses to understand consumer needs and have a space for tactical promotions.

In the future, CIC believes that more and more platforms will gradually extend their role in this value chain. Like Video/Music, although currently marketers mainly use pop-up advertising, they may also build direct purchase and service functions, such as VIP services, video content clicks generated e-commerce, etc. However, currently, various platforms on the entire value chain still play their unique roles, and brands can utilize the characteristics of different platforms to build their own social marketing value chain tailored for their products.

2.      Interest Communities for Target segmentation

Interest Communities for Target segmentation, include nine platforms: Travel Social, Dating Network, Business Social, Enterprise Social, Light Blog, Photo Social, Short-video Social, WIKI & Q&A, and Social E-commerce. These platforms are vertical consumer interest groups. Brands, depending on positioning and targeting strategy of their products, could match with the appropriate social media platforms' contents and users, to tailor make their social media marketing strategy and programs.

Vertical interest communities are naturally segmenting consumers and may present themselves as very targeted media offering cost effective reach for brands and companies in building their media plan and promotion programs. However, as part of those platforms and its related industry value in the chain is not yet fully mature, marketers may want to wait and see.

3.      Cross-screen Distribution

While mobility is a worldwide trend, cross-screen is a major feature of this year's social media landscape: PC access only, both PC + mobile access, mobile access only. While PC + mobile access is still the predominant distribution format chosen by most of the social media platforms, some new emerging and popular platforms decide to have mobile only access, which sends a signal to marketers that "Mobile First" should be on their marketing agendas.

In 2014, China social media is showing some phenomena, like mobility, segmentation, transaction/service, data integration and data analytics, bringing more opportunities to social media marketing and social business. For example, Chen Kun (a super movie star in China)'s WeChat public account is actually a close-looped community based on mobile, which is equipped by mobile payment and a seamlessly connected CRM system. This innovation could inspire brands on "Mobile First" and "Service/Transactions" strategy. At the same time, for the brand, Microblog is still the best marketing platform to gain fast and far reaching buzz volume generating brand and campaign awareness. Marketers could curate right social content and create customized consumer experience appropriate. Many vivid cases tell us that successful marketing is to stay ahead of the game by keeping abreast of all innovations in social media platforms and any game changing practice.


* Source: 33rd Statistical Report on Internet Development in China, CNNIC.

Source: Kantar Media CIC

Editor's notes

1. About CIC

CIC is China's pioneering social business intelligence company. CIC enables businesses to fully leverage the power of social media and Internet Word of Mouth (IWOM) intelligence across the organization. Since coining the term IWOM in 2004, CIC has pioneered the industry to help companies meet their social media marketing and social business needs by providing customized research, consulting services, as well as technology solutions , all from an objective, third party perspective. In addition to helping companies leverage social media intelligence for more informed decisions, CIC is monetizing the social business industry in China by creating an integrated social business support system.

In early 2012, as China's pioneering social business intelligence company, CIC consented to acquisition by WPP's Kantar Media, the media research and insight division of Kantar, expanding their social offering across Asia Pacific markets. (Press release)

CIC will continue to provide social business intelligence from an unbiased, third-party perspective, to the world's leading brands and agencies.

2. To know more about China's social media landscape, please contact us.

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