Continuing the series of articles on conducting basic market research in China, in this post I will be explaining how Chinese social media channels can be used for that purpose.

In China, Sina Weibo and WeChat are two most popular platforms. Sina Weibo has evolved around desktop use while WeChat only works with mobile. I have already those platforms in much more details in this blog. For now, suffice it to say that, for the purpose of market research, Weibo is much more suitable and this is what I will be focusing on.

Using Chinese Social Media Channels for market research

First of all, searching for something like “sunglasses” on Weibo is unlikely to be a very useful exercise – most results would probably quite irrelevant returning mostly some news or pictures of people wearing sunglasses.

While searching Chinese social media channels, it is much better to make a more focused searches such for specific brand names of competitors for example.

In any case, when it comes to searches for social mentions Weibo is fairly similar to Twitter with the difference that instead of preceding a term with #, it should be enclosed with # like this: #太阳眼镜#.

One useful aspect of a search for a broad term is finding out who is advertising with that keyword. Here is the screenshot of a sample search results with the ads shown on the right panel:

The best way to use social media search is to find out about the competition and how they are using this channel. For example, let’s search for one of the famous brands for sunglasses – Oakley (the brand name searches don’t require #):

 

The first result would usually be the official brand account followed by news and social mentions which also can be quite useful.
While browsing competitors accounts it is a good idea to note how many followers they have, how frequent they post and whether they receive engagement on their tweets.

In the above example, Oakley’s account reveals a fairly active channel with over 80K followers and 5.5K tweets (as of November 2015). The company seems to be engaging in promotions via sponsored sports events and many tweets feature new designs and product launches:

 


In summary, social media searches on Weibo are best for researching competitors and their ways of using this highly effective marketing channel. It can help you to figure out how much emphasis on social media your marketing campaign should include and what you should be tweeting about to keep your targeted audience engaged.

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