China Insights

Untapped social marketing potential of QQ Zone

Sophia Yang

Assistant Marketing Manager

Media Social 09.05.2014 / 09:54

OREO full

QQ Zone is one of largest social networks in China, but its social marketing potential has yet to be fully tapped.

QQ Zone is a blog platform developed by Tencent in 2005, on which users can write blogs, share photos, listen to music and update status to reflect their current feelings. Kantar's research in December, 2013 among 12,221 Internet users found its reach (72.5%) is highest among all social media networks in China, even higher than WeChat (64.5%) and Sina Weibo (58.8%). But this platform's social marketing potential has yet to be fully tapped.

1. Who is using QQ Zone?

According to Tencent's financial report of Q4, 2013, QQ Zone has 625 million monthly active users, among whom 416 million are active mobile app users. It is compared to Sina Weibo's 129 million monthly active users by Q4, 2013 and WeChat's 355 million monthly active users.

However, while brands start to invest heavily in social marketing campaigns on WeChat and Weibo, they have overlooked the marketing potential of QQ Zone.

First of all, they have a misunderstanding of QQ Zone users' profile and their purchasing power.

In some marketers' eyes, QQ Zone users are from third- and fourth-tier cities, at an overly young age with very limited spending budget - these features would mean the whole platform offers little return for marketing investment. However, some recent successful marketing campaigns have proven that it's time to change. Based on Tencent's self-help social advertising platform Guangdiantong's data, for brands, celebrities and organisations who are currently promoting themselves on QQ Zone, they have accumulated a total of 2.2 billion fans, 400 million of whom are active users.

Secondly, QQ Zone is readily connected with other lucrative platforms, which adds much value beyond itself.

Just like QQ Zone, QQ, WeChat, Tencent Weibo and are all products of Tencent. QQ Zone can be easily accessed through QQ's mobile or PC platforms, and people's updated status on QQ is automatically synchronised onto their QQ Zone homepages.

Tencent has connected QQ Zone's online advertising inventory with and Tencent Weibo via Guangdiantong. In the future, Guangdiantong will be further connected with Tencent's website and its video content services through social functions. It means QQ Zone is not only connected with Tencent's more than 800 million users, but also has more resources to be linked in the future.

2. What are people doing on QQ Zone?

About users' behaviour and their engagement with brands on QQ Zone, we can see the data below:

During the Spring Festival of 2013 (about seven days), users uploaded 2.2 billion photos to their QQ Zone homepages and shared 530 million Shuoshuo (a short status which people can update). More than 100 million people sent virtual gifts to others on QQ Zone.

In March, 2014, Xiaomi sold its Redmi smart phone on QQ Zone. Within seven days, 300,000 Redmi+ phones attracted 15.18 million pre-orders. On the first second the real purchasing started, 419,000 users clicked and Xiaomi's QQ Zone fans increased from 19 million to 26.05 million.

Therefore, we can see that QQ Zone's users have formed very healthy behavioural habits: they share feelings, upload photos, give virtual gifts, "like" their friends' status, which all help to keep the platform active. When brands market themselves on this platform, these habits have formed a solid foundation to encourage users to follow and engage meaningfully with the brands.

3. Different positioning of QQ Zone, Sina Weibo and WeChat

The three social media platforms compete and complement each other. The decisive different factor is each platform's social connection chain and spread capability.

WeChat forms strong connections among close friends. But it is a close and private platform, which means brands' messages can't be spread very widely.

For Sina Weibo, its social connection chain can be formed among strangers, which means the connections between its users are weak. Users can follow the accounts of any celebrity, brand or organisation. The message can spread like wildfire. However, that also means there are very "loud noise" on Sina Weibo. The high volume of advertisement has diminished original contents, and will affect messages' credibility and effect among its users.

QQ Zone is a social network among acquaintances, which means strong connections. It also has a half-open message spreading channels, which is missing on WeChat. The combination of both means QQ Zone's information spread pattern is between that of Sina Weibo and WeChat: information can travel a long way with a relatively high credibility.

However, given the relatively younger age of QQ Zone users, people's spending response won't be as quick and direct as that via Sina Weibo and WeChat. If a brand wants to achieve ideal social marketing result, it has to understand its position and play it right according to QQ Zone's nature.

4. QQ Zone marketing case

Besides Xiaomi, Oreo also pulled off a successful social marketing campaign on QQ Zone.

In the end of 2013, Oreo launched a "Zone of Child Innocence" campaign. It gathered 130 million impressions from 3.28 million participants in three days. The campaign appealed to the relationship between parents and their kids. The native campaign, which was designed to be spread through strong connections on QQ Zone, had triggered massive effective spreads among friends and relatives.

So for social marketing campaigns, user base scale and activeness are only two of the pre-conditions of success. Brands need to have a clear understanding of its core customers, and design campaigns fit for this particular platform and group of users to make the most of their marketing investment.

Source: Kantar Media CIC

Editor's notes

To reach the author, or to know more information, data and analysis of China's social media, please contact us.

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