Using Weibo and WeChat to Reach Chinese Tourists
Chinese tourism is a rapidly growing industry in the United States. To cater to this market, it is important to understand social media in China and how to get your information in front of Chinese tourists. In America, Twitter and Facebook are great vehicles for advertising. Since both of these networks are banned in China, you need to use the social media outlets that are available. Two of the most popular are Weibo and WeChat.
Weibo, the Chinese Version of Twitter
About 30 percent of Chinese internet users are active on Weibo. It is similar to Twitter since it limits posts to 140 characters, uses hashtags and messages are visible to the public. It is similar to Facebook since one can post videos, emoticons and responses to posts. In short, it is a hybrid of the two, and if you are hoping to bring your business or service to the attention of Chinese tourists, it is the perfect vehicle. Keep in mind that these sites are heavily monitored by the Chinese government and nothing potentially controversial should be included in any planned advertisement.
With 275 million users enjoying Weibo every month, it is obvious how useful this site can be to your business. Over 40 percent of users spend their time on Weibo reading celebrity, lifestyle and media news. ECommerce accounts are followed by 9 percent of users and official brand accounts by 20 percent. The numbers are certainly impressive–for eCommerce, that is more than 24 million visitors a month.
Weibo offers four types of advertising. Banner Advertisements are ads that display at the top of a post. Weibo Search Engine Promotions let people find you through a keyword search similar to Google. Fanheadline and Fan Tunnel are similar in form but different in function; Fanheadline targets your current followers, and Fan Tunnel targets potential followers. One or more of these types of advertising will be beneficial to your business. A recent study by Penguin Intelligence found that 31 percent of Weibo users had purchased something using Weibo, which is great news for businesses looking to break into the Chinese market.
WeChat, the Operating System for Life in China
WeChat, on the other hand, is a more personal form of social media. Users tend to spend longer on WeChat than they do on Weibo due to the tools that encourage chatting and the circle of friends that are an integral part of the WeChat platform. The majority of users are in the workforce, which makes them the perfect target audience for travel. They have the money and the means to visit foreign countries. With 935 million active users, the potential to reach new customers is phenomenal.
WeChat offers the ability for companies to place their advertisements on user’s timelines or at the bottom of official WeChat Account articles. These ads can help drive traffic to your website. Users can be targeted by their location, interest, gender, age, device or phone network. WeChat offers three ways to advertise using the Tencent program: WeChat Moments, WeChat Banners and WeChat Key Option Leader.
Given the high number of Chinese tourists who use social media, to ignore Weibo and WeChat is to miss out on a huge opportunity to promote your business. Coca-Cola and Mercedes Benz have successfully test run advertising on WeChat; that alone should tell you how important it can be to your business. Today’s Chinese tourists have more money, are better educated and are more willing to travel then ever before. Using social media allows you to provide them with the tools they need to create their ideal vacation, and to ensure that their ideal vacation includes you.