Thursday, March 22, 2018

Digital Marketing Strategies in International Markets like China

We have been discussing about Digital Marketing strategies, ideas, landscape using social media. This made me wonder, what would a good Digital Marketing strategy be like for countries like China, where social media is heavily controlled. Venturing into the digital landscape in China is one of the most fascinating and unique propositions for savvy marketers. It’s a huge market with over 710 million internet users, according to China Internet Network Information Center—more than double the population of people in the U.S.

It is, however, wholly unique. Due to internet censorship by the government, well-known communication channels and social platforms in the U.S. have not been able to establish themselves in the region. This is an uncertain and very different context for foreign brands, from the U.S. and other countries, to market within. What is commonly referred to as the “Great Firewall of China” specifically blocks foreign digital platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Youtube. In effect, Chinese citizens without a VPN can only access authorized websites. One of the main reasons for this is that the state supports Chinese digital companies and has created an online environment where they can thrive without competition from the established foreign players.

Accordingly, domestic Chinese platforms dominate, more notably - Baidu, WeChat, Ren Ren, Alibaba, Tabao etc. It's a mistake to try and think of these platforms as "the Chinese Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Whatsapp" or "the Chinese Google".  Perhaps at one point it was true, but now they have come into their own. WeChat is a messaging platform that is completely private.  If you see a photo or video shared by a friend and comment, only people friends with both of you will see that interaction.  Everyone else sees just the photo.  For businesses, official accounts can send out photos, articles, videos, games, audio messages, and chat with followers--all through a private conversation with each person. Businesses can also accept payment and do customer service directly through the app. With Baidu, SEO is a completely different beast.  The way the first page is structured is so unnatural that a heat map of will show users habitually clicking next page to find organically high-ranking content.

Following is a link outlining the strategies to implementing a Digital Strategy in China.

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