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Is Chinese social media hindering NZ companies?

Kiwi companies looking to tap into the Chinese market via social media may struggle to find success, according to a leading consultant at Auckland-based Boyd PR.

Zhao Ling says New Zealand companies need to appreciate that social media in China operates in a different way to New Zealand, and will find it hard to make any progress in the lucrative Chinese market if they try to apply the same methodology they use here.

“While China is a country with great opportunities for New Zealand companies, people need to realise a different approach is required when it comes to social media,” Ling says.

“Forget about Facebook and Twitter - the two big sites in China are Weibo and WeChat. These are the sites that people in China really trust, but for a New Zealand company getting a presence on Weibo it is not simply a case of signing up,” Ling explains.

“Weibo will run third party checks to ensure a company is trustworthy and has a good reputation before it is allowed to appear the site. t is because of this vetting process that Chinese people trust Weibo, as it is seen coming from trustworthy channels.”

According to Boyd PR. recent stats show that 80% of Chinese consumers trust a brand if they have seen it on social media. Fifty percent of Chinese consumers check products offline before they buy online and 75% check prices online while shopping offline. Eighty percent read reviews on social media, and 85% share purchases on social media.

“Chinese consumers are passionate about engaging with foreign brands and sharing their experience with their friends, it is the most critical part of social consumption/value co-creation with regard to new product/service,” says Ling.

WeChat, is a private network for peer-to-peer messaging where brands can expect high levels of engagement and sharing.

“Because of the geographic distant and trust issue, New Zealand companies need to focus on providing an integrated journey for Chinese customers through social media.” says Ling.