Social Networking Gone Niche

According to Gaurav Mishra, CEO of social media research and strategy company 20:20 Web Tech, out of the next billion Internet users (and the next billion mobile users), a substantial number will come from emerging economies like China. To understand the future of new media in China, it’s important to understand how new media is currently being used in China. Of China’s more than 120 million Internet users, 43 percent are using online message boards, 76 million are using online video sharing sites and 24 percent are using blogs.

Sam Flemming, CIC CEO

Sam Flemming, CIC CEO

‘Social media is alive and well in China,” says CIC CEO Sam Flemming. CIC is the leading Internet word-of-mouth consulting firm in China. Because China is a culture where listening, community building, loyalty, trust and high-expectations are encouraged, a company trying to market its brand or product in China must first do so by identifying and targeting niche social networking and media communities that are in or related to its market. Chinese flock toward those who they trust and who share common interests. Once a company has successfully captured the trust and respect of that target audience, word-of-mouth should fan the flames of the initial buzz and spread conversation to more populous sites.

According to Traffickd:

Most social media marketers tend to focus on the largest, most popular sites, like Digg and Facebook. These sites are appealing because of the huge traffic potential that they present. These sites have more users than smaller, niche social media sites, so they receive most of the attention. Although niche sites may not be able to offer the same traffic potential (in terms of numbers) as the major players, they should not be ignored by marketers. Because exclusivity and word-of mouth from trustworthy sources are inherent in China’s culture, the smaller number of users means that it will be easier for marketers to achieve success and popularity with core audiences who are more likely to spread the word and be repeat consumers.

Heard of Neocha? It’s China’s own version of MySpace that specifically targets people who are interested in creativity, from art to fashion and music. Many companies have partnered with Neocha to hold offline events aimed at marketing its brand or product to creative minds who flock to Neocha’s site.

Helpful Hints in Implementing Niche Social Network Marketing:

Look for relationships with other social media sites: Use niche sites as a backdoor to your site.

Use a few different sites if possible: Spread the word to expand your social media marketing “broadband network”

Get involved and know the users: Know the desires of your consumers and deliver!

Try to get in early: If you see a Niche site that appears to have a growth potential, jump on it now.


Gaurav Mishra

“Internet users in China have large social circles both online and offline and are heavy users of social media, possibly because of a strong early adopter bias,” says Mishra.

Promote the content of others in your niche: Helping others find content is effective for growing with a social network.

Remember, the Chinese value quality, high-end and exclusivity. Niche social networking holds value by being functional, while also being extremely relevant and exclusive. While some may argue targeting a less trafficked site is risky because of the smaller group size, I believe that it is more benificial because the value lies in the quality, and not the quantity.


3 Responses to Social Networking Gone Niche

  1. Great point about the necessity for building trust in the Chinese market. Your analysis of how this may be easier by working with niche sites and focusing on a smaller, yet ultimately more important audiences makes sense and is an important distinction to make. (4)

  2. Alex Greenbaum says:

    It’s interesting that the issue of how to “build trust” has come up again and again in our blog posts. The Russians and the Chinese appear to be inherently mistrustful of Western (read: American) brands, at least at first. Yet Americans regularly consume products and services that aren’t “made in the USA”. Maybe we’re too trusting?

  3. Adrienne Allmond says:

    Great Post! I would have also been interested in seeing a list of the major and/or highly recommended niche social media sites in China.

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