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2016 China's Social Media Trend Report

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2016 social marketing in China totem media


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10 Trends for 2016 For brands marketing thru social media in China.


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About This Presentation 2016 projects to be a pivotal year for digital/social advertising in China. In 2015, economic growth slowed, retail shifted further to online, WeChat conquered Weibo ... and for brands it became much harder to break-thru with audiences. In this social marketing preview of 2016, we have highlighted 10 trends that will prove to be critical for marketers. The trends represent the most current conversations taking place with brands in China. These trends are placed in the context of China as an (overwhelmingly) digital-first market. Prepared by Totem Media


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Digital Rules in China Digital won easily over traditional media in China. Digital is all important.


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“Traditional media never stood a chance in China. Most commercial, entertainment media (TV, print...) only got its start in the late 90’s. Before that it was all government run, with near-zero audience value. Unlike other markets globally, digital had an equal start with traditional media in China. (eg. Google was incorporated in 1998, Alibaba started in 1999) Given the equal start with traditional, its no surprise that digital dominates in China.” Chris Baker, Totem Media


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Time Spent By Media, By Market 100 10h Traditional - Hours Digital - Hours Hours/Day 75 8h 50 6h China W. Europe 25 4h 0 GlobalWebIndex Q1 - Q2 2014


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US vs China ...Activities Online 100 US China Utility-First Entertainment % of Usage 75 50 25 0 E ail m h g g g g ts nt S) ng ideo ging ews usic on ums ging llin arc ppin okin nkin itme men (SN ati mi r g V N M c a Se sa o Se ho Fo Ga ay nds du Blo es l B ne B ecru S E e e P rie R tM rav Onli F lin T an n t O Ins Source: eMarketer 2012


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“In China, digital is more important than all other media combined for audience engagement.” With 688 million people online in China, digital is of paramount importance for marketing.” Jeff Sprafkin, CEO of Media Pacific


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Daily Use of Media Time (Online vs Traditional) 100 Online TV Print Reach % 75 Radio 50 25 0 Wake Up (in bed) Early Morning TNS Connected Life 2014 Late Morning During Lunch Early Late Afternoon Afternoon Early Evening During Dinner Late Evening Bedtime (in bed)


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China: All Eyes Are On Mobile HOW OFTEN THEY WATCH TV ON A MOBILE DEVICE 71% Several Times Per Week 28% Several Times Per Day GIK Polling for Interactive Ad Bureau (IAB), Aug 2014 US 27% China 9% US China


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China: Shopping Is More Social CHINESE RELY HEAVILY ON SOCIAL TO DISCOVER AND RESEARCH BRANDS “Social networks are the first place I research brand information” “I post product ratings and reviews at least once per month” GIK Polling for Interactive Ad Bureau (IAB), Aug 2014 23% 8% China US 75% 20% US China


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User Time Online: Social & Video Lead search 9% games 5% Social media 28% 40 other 18% hours online per week ecommerce 8% Online video News 5% 26%


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The China Ecosystem A distinct ecosystem with sites that are only rough equivalents of US.


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Two Social Ecosystems faceboook wechat


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US - Social Media Ecosystem CONSIDER AWARENESS EVALUATE BOND ADVOCATE ENJOY buy Source: Harvard Business Review, Dec 2010


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China - Social Media Ecosystem CONSIDER AWARENESS EVALUATE BOND ADVOCATE ENJOY buy


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China - Digital Ecosystem display (Sina, Sohu) online video (Youku/Tudou) social (Weibo, WeChat) brand.cn Challenges Online Weibo - users have moved on Ecommerce - most sales flow through Taobao Display - limited RTB, poor quality data Baidu - effectiveness in decline search (Baidu) ecommerce (Taobao, JD)


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Global (Long-tail) vs China (Concentrated) Global = Long-Tail Lots of independent sites Linked together by Search, RTB, Ad Networks... Open, “friendly” competition between big guys Efficiency in “open source” tools China = Concentrated A few dominant players hold most traffic Search & Programmatic “relatively” less important Social more important (news, entertainment, WOM) Development of tools dominated by BAT


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10 Trends for 2016 For brands marketing thru social media in China.


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1. WeChat Still Rules But growth is slowing ...the honeymoon is coming to an end.


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WECHAT STILL RULES 1 WeChat continues to rule social but growth is slowing. With 570 million DAU (Daily Active Users), WeChat is king of social in China. It will quickly reach its peak in total users numbers (ie. 93% of T1 City residents are already registered). Reports also show that engagement is dropping.


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Social Life-Cycles - User Growth vs. Investment A lesson from Weibo. RAPID FOLLOWER GROWTH Late Mass Modest number of new Registrations. Much lower engagement totals. Early Mass Sharp rise in new Registrations, Very high MAU. Early Adopters Very active engagement with Creators ...modest, steady growth Laggards 2011-12 Decline in Registered User totals. Much lower MAU. 2015 2009-10


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Moments Ads on WeChat With user growth slowing, now might be a good time to invest in ads. Moments Ads: are pushed directly into users’ social stream (based on detailed targeting). Ads in “moments” have been effective in building new followers for brands - quickly raising account numbers. Minimum costs for ads have recently dropped, making them more accessible to smaller brands.


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Implications for Brands Looking back at the experience of Weibo, there is a peak period for involvement, where users follow a lot of accounts (personal and brand alike), after which, new ‘follows’ slow down dramatically. Brand accounts built up during the honeymoon of Weibo (2011-12), easily accumulated large followings. Those built up more recently have had to work very hard to achieve more modest numbers. This is the honeymoon for WeChat but its coming to an end soon. Brands should therefore consider making the most of high user attention now before WeChat becomes too crowded and user apathy sets in. It will only get harder.


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2. The Rise of New SNS While WeChat dominates, there is a shift of “hip/cool” users to new platforms.


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NEW SOCIAL MEDIA 2 With WeChat now close to its peak, it’s been flooded by mass audiences. Younger (hipper) audiences are shifting their attention to new social/ mobile sites, looking for more interesting experiences. Early adopters are sharing/creating/exploring on sites like NICE, Lofter, Meipai ...


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Social Life-cycles - User Growth vs. Investment RAPID FOLLOWER GROWTH Late Mass Passive “Viewers” but rarely demonstrate engagement Early Mass Demonstrates “lite” engagement Laggards Early Adopters Creators x Active (Demonstrate Engagement) CONTENT TYPE UGC (Co-Created) Viewable (Video, Images) Source of Content Distribution of Content


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Created on NICE - Shared by WeChat Nice took 10 KOLs to Japan for UNIQLO to reveal the Spring/Summer 2015 collection. All KOLs visited Uniqlo’s flagship store in Tokyo, and shared their visits on Nice as a “live show.” The images were sent through NICE ...and later share more widely through WeChat. Source of Content Reach for Content


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Implications for Brands For brands who require engagement with youth, style, fashion, design ...and taste making in general, there will be strong reason to invest time in building up presence on sites like NICE and Lofter. These “instagram-like” sites are key for driving consideration from; (1)people who carry influence, (2)people who are willing to co-create and participate with brands. The influence (“cred”) developed with creators in these sites can then be amplified through WeChat, Weibo and other other mass channels.


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3. WeChat for Retail They are looking to take over from Taobao as key ecommerce player.


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WECHAT FOR RETAIL 3 During CNY 2015, WeChat increased the number of people registered for its payment system to 400 million. Combine that with (1)incredible daily active user numbers, and (2)the increasing availability of products ...and WeChat ecommerce is set for “take off” in 2016.


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We first established an account on WeChat in June 2013 and have had really good traction so far. Our WeChat fanbase grew very rapidly and it drives really good traffic to our ecommerce site as well. It’s actually one of the first times that we’ve seen a social site driving a large number of ecommerce sales. Julien Chiavassa, Digital Head APAC for Clarins


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JD.com is putting out advertisements for its selected partners on WeChat during Singles Day for the first time. The company is also offering RMB 2.5 billion (US$394 million) worth of coupons on WeChat’s Moments’ platform, according to Deustche Bank’s report. Alibaba says that mobile transaction represented 72% of total gross merchandise volumes (GMV) during Singles’ Day 2015.


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Implications for Brands WeChat is setting its ambitions beyond being China’s key social network. They want be THE dominant ecosystem and rule the ecommerce market. Tencent’s big growth efforts with WeChat have been in registering users for their payment system (eg. CNY red envelope campaigns), and with fueling ecommece sales (eg. coupons/ads for Singles’ Day). Brands that want to succeed on WeChat should develop CRM and sales strategies to align with WeChat’s long-term vision.


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4. Online Video is Critical For BRANDED CONTENT and audience engagement - Video is a MUST.


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VIDEO IS A MUST 4 To break through with audiences in 2015, brands increasingly needed to use video. It’s quickly becoming the ‘key currency’ on social media and a ‘must’ for marketing. Large incumbents (Youku...) and new sites (eg. Meipai, Bili Bili...) have been focal points for this shift.


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Growth in Video - More Site, More Formats


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Implications for Brands In our recent survey of 30+ top brands/agencies in China, video was cited as the second most important channel, after WeChat for driving audience growth. Brands should be looking to create more video assets and experiment with new video sites (with formats native to those media).


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5. Weibo is Twitter, again Started as a Twitter clone (then like Facebook), it’s now a lot more like Twitter.


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WEIBO IS TWITTER 5 Orginally lauched as a Twitter clone, Weibo morphed into Facebook at its peak (lots of friend focused functions). WeChat has taken over and Weibo has shifted to focus back to news, trends and ‘realtime.’ It’s Twitter again and is facing the same challenges (ie. lite audience frequency).


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Weibo = Realtime Events/Trends Started the Trend Responses by brands add to/benefit from the “Trend”


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Implications for Brands The shift of daily audience attention to WeChat seems to be killing Weibo. However, Weibo has found its place as the “Twitter of China” again. It’s the channel that people rush to when big news and realtime events hit. For brands, it’s also still the best place to launch campaigns from. There is a well worn system for pushing content out, which includes use of KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) and more recently Weibo’s “FanPass,” allowing brands to see content move far-and-wide. And because its open and trackable, brands are able to observe the full effect of their efforts. WeChat isnt open to tracking and so numbers there still dont look as good as Weibo.


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6. Distributed Social Shift Brands struggling to build account followings need to grow an ecosystem.


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DISTRIBUTED SOCIAL 6 Brands have struggled to build up follower numbers in WeChat. Most official brand accounts only tally a small fraction of what they did on Weibo. It’s time for brands to start looking at the bigger picture, by developing content and networks to spread across the entire ecosystem.


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Grow: With Content Across Channels CONSIDER AWARENESS EVALUATE BOND ADVOCATE ENJOY buy


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Implications for Brands Social networks like Weibo and WeChat host an incredible volume of user traffic. For brands, building up “official” accounts on social platforms, it’s not always easy to (1)get audiences to sign up, nor (2)keep them coming back to the brand account. Brands must become publishers - by creating much better quality (more audience relevant) content. Brands must also understand the entire online ecosystem and design content strategies for images, videos and stories that go beyond “official accounts” - contents that start/ grow from a multitude of new sites. For instance, infographics designed for Zhihu (Q&A site), can be very effective in answering questions at the consideration/evaluation stages...and can stimulate very broad circulation.


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7. Niche Social Contents Brands must look beyond core segments to connect with new audience sets.


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NICHE SOCIAL CONTENT 7 Social media strategies were once all about “core audiences” but for most brands that want scale, there is need to develop connections with aligned groups online (non-core but relevant), by using content that speaks to the interests of new segments (interest groups).


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Grow: Using Content X Networks (KOLs) Movies & TV TECHNOLOGY ARTS Sci-fi Music Fashion Gadgets & Gear KOLs KOLs Auto (Toys) Food & Drink CORE KOLs KOLs Wellness Travel Action Sports ADVENTURE Fitness Sports HEALTH


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Implications for Brands Small groups of loyalists dont get the job done for most brands. “Core audience” segments dont offer enough scale, for companies conditioned to mass media (TV) with broad reach. “Mass brands” need to employ strategies to target larger audience groups on social. Starting with “core audiences,” brands need to create maps of aligned audience segments (niches). They need reach into those new segments with the support of KOLs/ influencers and “segment relevant” contents. A winning formula keeps the company “on brand” while demonstrating benefits relevant to new audiences. Therefore, the combination of content x KOLs must be designed carefully.


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B 8. Globals Must Be Local For content to breakthru with audiences, it needs to become more relevant.


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LOCALIZATION 8 2015 has marked a turning point for brands in China. For decades, global brands have used ads designed for US/EU in China. That was useful in establishing awareness and credibility. But, now that the challenge has moved beyond awareness, brands must become more locally relevant. Star Wars, Episode 7 Trailer Launch at Great Wall


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China Is Too Important Advertising Content Designed for US The content relevance gap: US/EU Ad content for social in China For Social in China ???


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A China First Approach to Content Tiffany features model, Liu Wen in both Global and Chinese campaigns. Global China


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Implications for Brands China has become too big, too important. Brands cannot shoe-horn US/EU ads into China and expect that they will resonate with audiences on social media. It’s curious why brands that would never run a British ad in the US, still think that running a US ad in China works. For established brands in China, where awareness levels are high, the focus should shift to listening more to audiences and responding with contents that have been developed in China, for Chinese. The next round of growth in China depends on being more closely connected with Chinese lifestyles, challenges, dreams ...etc.


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$ 9. Selling Matters More As the economy slows, pressure is mounting on brands to sell more. Social x eCommerce are very important in 2016.


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ECOMMERCE 9 Companies that have invested heavily in awareness, now expect results. Consumption has slowed in many categories (luxury, auto...) AND offline retail has been challenged. Ecommerce holds the promise of new growth for brands. Singles’ Day offers proof that brands can grow online. H&M Outdoor Ads, China


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“Alibaba said total sales exceeded $5 billion in just the first 90 minutes of the 24-hour sale, which kicked off at midnight Wednesday in Beijing.  About 72% of sales were from mobile phones.” Elizabeth Weise, USA Today (November 11, 2015)


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Everything Sells Online In China “High-end brands that aren’t online in China are losing out.” “Have you ever bought luxury products online?” YES 74% NO 26% “A total of 40 percent buy luxury online more than five times a year, while 35 percent said they’re going to increase their online luxury shopping.” Exane BNP Paribas


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Social Merchandising - Supporting Sales Infographics used across social channels to answer questions by audience. Where to Buy What to Buy Supporting O2O Answering Key Product Questions


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Implications for Brands Product information and images rank highly with users. The release of new/hot products can drive very strong engagement. So, while companies need to do a better job of creative content to support branding, they should not forget that a large number of users follow them to see new products. In cases where a consumer is close to purchase, they may also check “official brand accounts” to find information supporting detailed product selection and buying. For consumers at this stage, brands could consider additional incentives to drive/reward sales.


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10. Outbound eCommerce “Haitao” and the practice of buying online from global sites is in full swing.


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OUTBOUND ECOMMERCE 10 The liberalization of imports to China has lead to a dramatic increase in outbound ecommerce (hai tao), with Chinese buying on global websites shipping back to China. Brands and ecommerce merchants that understand this movement can reap significant returns. Mainland Chinese Shopping is Global


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outbound offline online Tourists Overseas Ecommerce From China


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Outbound Ecommerce In search of products from around the world online. “HAI TAO” - Ocean Search The term in China for the shopping trend to going online ...ordering direct from global Websites.


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Direct-to-China Sites REVOLVE - Overseas selling to China Buying Guide Navigation Bar Banners KEY FEATURE Email Registration Leave your email Those who leave anemail address are more likely to buy from REVOLVE. KEY FEATURE user images Chinese CRM Payment Methods Involving users in campaigns to show-off products bought from REVOLVE ...both inside Chinese SNS and outside.


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Implications for Brands For some brands, more than 50% of sales to Chinese nationals are taking place overseas - from purchases made while on location and from purchases made through “offshore” websites (hai tao). For new brands, without operations on the ground in China, this is great. New brands can look to strategies where they continue selling through offshore sites, marketing directly to China, (potentially) without costly local operations . Larger, more established brands need to embrace this challenge by aligning China marketing to Global sales (to Chinese) - with more comprehensive CRM systems and improved customer service.


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A Pivotal Year For Brands? Brands focused on making noise and generating reach/awareness on social are seeing diminishing returns with audiences in China. Social is still largely about "push" in China. The big pivot in 2016, should be about listening more and infusing strategies with a stronger dose of CRM. If audiences (who care enough about the brand to speak up), are telling you what they want, then it's time to listen. Too many brands right now don’t even know who they are pushing content to. The real opportunity on social is about scaling customer interaction; understanding audiences better, responding to their interests, and growing together with them (depth & reach) ...scaling WOM. Prepared by Totem Media


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Chris Baker, Managing Director Email: chris@totemmedia.net Twitter/WeChat: Talktototem


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