While China boasts the world's fastest growing Middle Class, it also boasts more technologically astute users who are not only adapting well to social media, but embracing it in huge numbers.
Not only are Chinese citizens to the Internet, they are also growing more trusting of the information they are receiving via social media. Namely, advertisements.
In fact, the numbers show that Chinese Internet users, specifically those using the Twitter-like service Sina Weibo, have tripled in the past year. Surveys show that the Chinese are a little hesitant about recommending products via social media but they are definitely more trusting of the advertisements they find there. This is a marked departure from their level of trust in traditional online advertising which has always trailed the United States.
This bodes very well for social media marketers looking to set up shop in the world's most populous nation. They stand a much greater chance of success in China than every before, provided they can work within the guidelines set down by the Chinese censors.
Only 20 per cent of the internet population in China use social media to share information about products with other consumers, compared with 37 per cent in the US, says McKinsey. But that number will doubtless grow, given the rise in willingness of social media users to believe what they hear from other people.
That means companies need to learn how to project their brand image, not just on television, in print and online, as in the old days, but increasingly on social media, according to Mark de Swaan Arons of Effective Brands, the global marketing consultancy.
Durex, the condom brand, is a model for how to do that in China, says Darius Karbassioun of BBH, the advertising agency, in Shanghai. At last count, Durex had 241,023 followers on Weibo, the leading Chinese microblog.
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