As companies seek to expand their global advertising reach online, it’s impossible to ignore China. Despite the number of restrictions associated with advertising in China, the size of the potential audience is enticing. Unfortunately, China places restrictions on the flow of information into and within its borders, a fact which may discourage many companies from investing the time and money to understand the habits and interests of this tremendous market.
When expanding your company’s advertising reach abroad, the first thing to understand is the online habits of a particular culture or region. While it may seem obvious to some, it is easy to overlook what may work in another country simply because it does not work in the U.S. (e.g. while banner ads are not as successful in the U.S., they do perform better abroad). These differences are further highlighted in China, where the culture, freedom, and even written language differ so greatly from our own. The following tips will help you plan your online venture in China:
Clicks Trump Type
Take the Chinese text, for example. The complication of typing Chinese characters has resulted in greater popularity of web pages that require less typing and integrate more clickable content. If your company’s site requires a larger amount of typing to navigate, you might consider clickable images.
Baidu Reigns Supreme
Familiar with Google and all that is necessary to promote your company through the all-powerful U.S. engine? Become acquainted with Baidu, China’s top search engine. It commands over 75% of the market share to Google’s almost 20%. While Baidu does have many similarities to Google, it is a completely different search engine that warrants your attention if China is on your radar.
Learn to Sina Weibo…Not Tweet
With the great deal of control the government has over the citizens of China, one might expect that social media is non-existent. Common U.S. platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, are almost completely unused, yet social media is still very prevalent. One social site, Sina Weibo, is very similar to Twitter. Sina Weibo’s top 100 participants have a combined 198.2 million+ followers, a stale number, which may have exceeded Twitter’s top 100 participants at this time.
A company must ask itself if the lure of the large Chinese market is worth hurdling the obstacles of restrictions and an unknown culture. With some research, some flexibility, and a willingness to adapt to a very different set of cultural rules, one might find China a worthwhile investment. Remember, there are 513 million internet users in China. This equals the number of people living in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Italy combined, so it may just be worth it for you.