China is one of the biggest markets and as traditional advertising becomes less effective, content marketing usage increases all over the world, while China is not an exception. But does it follow the same rules as other countries regarding to content marketing? Should brands use different content to attract people in China? Is “The Great Firewall of China” a stumbling block?

“Content Marketing” has become a buzz-word, but there is no certain definition of it. In a nutshell content marketing is all content that attract consumers to a brand: videos, blogs, podcasts e.t.c. Its primary aim is to develop brand awareness, customer loyalty, media attention and ultimately increase sales and that is the thing that differs it from traditional advertising – which aim is just to increase sales. Usually content marketing inform or entertain audience, thus audience start to trust a brand and ultimately show it’s love through purchases (of a product or a service). Content is some kind of a conversation: brands give something relevant to a customer with an intention to get a response (in form of likes, comments e.t.c.) to give even more attractive content.

Most important here is data, data and data. The idea of pushing different content more and more, but successful campaign is based on what and when the particular audience wants content,what are the trends. Insights is the key.


Content marketing rules

Content Marketing In China


Content marketing boom have started to take China over relatively recently, but audience is already interested in such conversation. In Q1 2016 around a billion people used local platforms and services like Tencent QQ (877M), WeChat (762M), QZone (648M), Sina Weibo (236M) and other. Compare this statistics to their analogs and you will notice almost the same numbers (Twitter – Weibo 310M-236M). What’s important here is that many of this users are unique, because Chinese don’t tend to (or even can’t) use west analogs like Twitter, Whatsapp.

95% of companies in China see the potential of content marketing. PR Newswire reports that in 2015 31% of companies reduced and relocated their advertisement budgets to content marketing and new media. China is unique in the way of it’s platforms, sites and social networks as well as behaviour of the target audience. That means that content should be China-directed. But this, more or less, apply to every country: content can’t be universal as well as ways of its distribution.

Lincoln Bjorkman, Wunderman’s global chief creative officer, doesn’t see China’s market as “terribly different”. “People work with what they’ve got”. If there is a firewall – ok. If a brand wants to communicate, then put some thoughts, test and get response, make adjustments. “Anyway the same great kind of work is produced”, whether it is USA or China.

The main platforms for distributing content in China are: WeChat, Weibo, Youku and other. They are not vastly different from their analogs like Whatsapp or Youtube. Marketers just need to adapt the way of distribution of content in China as they do in USA or Europe. For example, Statista’s research shows that 70% of all people in China watch video online and have a deeper connection with brands that offer richer video experiences, thus visuals drive the most conversion. WeChat is a great example of fast growing new platform in China. Quick respond to trends changes is essential for every agency. One more special thing about China – SEO. Optimising for Google is cool, but on this territory marketing team should be aware of nuances of Baidu.


Tomorrow is with content marketing

Content Marketing in China has a bright future: in 2015 PR Newswire predicted that more than 65% of companies were going to increase usage and investment in WeChat, however, only 50% were going to increase budgets allocated to Weibo, compared to 69% in 2014. It shows that brands quickly adopt to trends, knowingly that even small delay can cost a company its customers. For sure we are going to see new platforms. South Korean Snapchat copy “Snow” takes off in Asia, having reached over 30 mil downloads since September release and now gaining popularity in China due to Snapchat block. Brands should be ready to immediately get into action.


Content Marketing In China


China is a huge market and every brand wants a piece of this pie. Content Marketing there will continue to grow and evolve, while we will see more new china-specific strategies. Most likely WeChat and Youku will remain primary platforms in the next few years. New trends appear everyday and quick response based on analytics, predictions and measurement is the key. Content marketing is already a hot thing in China, brands just need a right strategy to handle the obstacles.

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