Best Social Media to attract Chinese tourists in 2023
With China’s post-COVID opening in 2023, a rise in Chinese disposable income and longer holiday periods available, Chinese tourists are looking for new ways to spend their holidays. To attract these potential tourists, companies operating in the Chinese market must meet them where they are, that is the Internet. For most Chinese travellers, their search concerning their travel destinations, the search begins online.
All differences are explained by the banishment of the world-leading social network Facebook and Instagram. It allowed many other networks to appear. On the one hand, you have the ones that «propose» the same offer and on the other hand, you have the ones with a much more different positioning with their specific targets. The Chinese social media landscape doesn’t feature Facebook, Youtube or Instagram but instead, you will hear about WeChat, Weibo or Youku to online quote the main ones.
Chinese people love to share their life and experience on social networks as fast as possible. They spend 1 third of their daily social networking. By the way, the growing smartphone use allowed the development of many social networks especially connected to suit smartphone use. The first one you have to carefully use for the tourism industry: is WeChat.
How to reach Chinese travellers online?
1. Have an optimized website in Mandarin
2. Rank it higher on Baidu: SEO or PPC
3. Register on Chinese OTA
4. Build up communities around your official WeChat and Weibo accounts
Before developing the function of WeChat and its usefulness in inbound marketing, here are some figures to understand better the influence of this social network:
- The function that was key to the success of WeChat was the ability to send short voice messages for one minute to contacts
- WeChat users are over 1 billion million in 2023
- 55% of users consult their WeChat more than ten times a day
- 41% of users use it to search for information
WeChat is a closed social network: users are not in open communities unless they have been invited into groups. Regarding tourism, Chinese tourists will share their experiences via the “moments”, mini-posts where they can share their travel as well as post photos.
What’s the purpose of using such a social network for a company? The companies can create official accounts so they can be followed by an important amount of users. Either you can follow these official accounts by using the traditional method, which is simply using the account name or you can use the QR Code that can be scanned through your phone camera. Which is much simpler and faster, it takes a major place in O2O strategies, to make customers use their services or rent a room in their hotels.
10 ways for a Hotel to attract Chinese tourists
When you are an agency or a hotel, for example, you can, via your account, post your latest news and discounts, which can attract your potential customers. This kind of account will give an impression of a premium contact between you and the customer. This «VIP» effect is something Chinese people are really sensitive about, especially when they are travelling. To have an effective WeChat strategy you necessarily have to build a reactive Community Management team ready to answer any solicitations of the Chinese customer.
Tuniu is one of the key actors in the online travel agencies (OTA) market but is especially important thanks to its community and its role in the decision-making for the Chinese tourists’ vacation planning process.
It is on this platform that Chinese tourists demand early information about their next vacation. Indeed, Chinese tourists want to optimize their as much as possible their holidays, especially when they go abroad, because of the lack of long holidays(2 periods of 10 days for the majority of Chinese). They seek information on where to go, how to get there, which destinations to avoid, or which hotels to book. A Community Manager team posting good comments can slightly influence the decision-making.
When returning from holidays, Chinese who have already been on vacation will also share their experiences with other users, as “experts”, giving weight to their statements. Indeed, C2C information is the most powerful tool in China, where content provided directly by the brands is judged untrustworthy.
Weibo is a very popular Chinese social media platform, which could be described as a mix between Twitter and Facebook. Since its launch, the platform has evolved to become a powerful tool that can be used to communicate and influence Chinese consumers. In 2023 it accounted for more than 570 million monthly active users It is necessary for brands willing to operate on the Chinese market to open an account on Weibo and advertise interesting and attractive content to interact with and target Chinese tourists. By using Weibo, brands have the opportunity to get to know Chinese travellers’ needs, habits, interest, and even their behaviours.
An important number of Chinese travellers are more and more inclined to research and plan their trips rather than purchase group packages. Nowadays they do their research on travel dedicated sites and travel social networks, one of the most popular is Mafengwo. Mafengwo is a community of travel aficionados that come together to share their experiences, advice and recommendations. The site has four million monthly active users and one million user-generated travel guides. With this kind of audience, it makes sense to advertise there.
Work with KOLs
Standard media advertising used in the west, will most likely not reach Chinese customers as their needs and expectations are very much different. Many Chinese citizens’ life happens on smartphones and is especially focused on social media. You might’ve guessed by now but collaborating with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) who love to travel is a very effective strategy indeed a KOL with a consequent following can enable your business to reach travellers in China. A good example of a successful KOL is Shenwei, a very influential travel KOL, who has over 5 million followers on Weibo.
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Case Study: Scaevola x Weibo
Travel agency in Malaysia, Scaevola has built a strong presence among the most popular social networks in China.
First, the agency set up a website in Chinese and then installed a Weibo account to create a community on an open social network, allowing interaction among members about the content broadcasted by them.
Weibo is a very popular social network in China, with over 500 million registered users, making a network penetration rate of about 80% among netizens. However, this platform has been suffering from a problem for which measures began to be implemented: the existence of “zombie” accounts, created to artificially inflate the number of members of a community.
Checking the number of comments and sharing is an effective way to identify whether a branded account has real members or “zombies”: here are legitimate followers because 226 shares and 80 comments are appearing.
Scaevola regularly posts content on its new offers and destinations to follow to get the best price. This network allows the travel agency to stay as close as possible to the community. In addition to this, videos are posted regularly on its Youku channel, the most used video platform in China. In this case, users can view presentations of organized tours and presentations of the agency. We thus find the winning combination of Youku (which allows the upload of videos) – Weibo (which ensures their dissemination.
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