Young consumers in China like receiving and sharing brand messages online

This year, digital marketers are champing at the bit to get their messages in front of China’s 530 million internet users, a population largely willing to click on branded content for more information. Digital marketers in China have devoted particular and significant attention to the country’s weibo sites, which are similar to microblogging platforms like Twitter and Tumblr.

According to an enovate report on digital lifestyles of young adults in urban China, 46% of respondents reported awareness of sponsored weibo messages and 41% were aware of branded weibo pages. The survey also found that 79% of internet users in China ages 18 to 30 would click on branded content, including ads, if they were interested in the brand or product.

The enovate report found that the most popular daily activities among respondents were reading articles for news and information, QQ messenger groups, social networks and weibo sites, videos and bulletin board systems.

Synovate, the global research firm recently acquired by Ipsos, found that weibo was among the top digital activities of consumers ages 15 to 44 in China, especially in larger cities. Smaller cities also saw significant percentages of usage among younger consumers. Total weibo penetration, at 24% in Tier 1 cities like Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing, rivaled the reach of magazines (32%) and surpassed both radio (20%) and movies (11%).

While the online brand impact of weibo is significant, it is not limited to the digital realm in China; it influences offline interactions as well. In an email interview with eMarketer, Jeremy Webb, digital influence strategist at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide in Beijing, said, “[Weibo] is the first platform to change online and offline interactions in a way that is similar to what Facebook has done in the West. People arrange their nights out on weibo and they live-tweet those nights out.”

Most US brands are new to social media in China. As in the US, a presence on weibo or other social networks in China can be just as important as ads. Whichever route brands decide to take for reaching China’s internet users, weibo’s popularity is undeniable, and Webb advises brands to at least monitor the space for possible opportunities or problems.

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Check out today’s other article, “When Consumers Tweet Complaints, Should Brands Respond?”

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