Social networks benefit brands in China

03 May 2010

BEIJING: Brands which have established a presence on social networks enjoy greater popularity with internet users in China, a new report has revealed.

Dynamic Logic, which is part of Millward Brown, the research firm, surveyed 2,000 netizens in the country in order to gain an understanding of their behaviour and preferences.

It reported that the typical respondent spent 22.2 hours a week on the web, mostly for entertainment purposes and to communicate with friends.

More specifically, 86% of participants downloaded music, while 64% engaged in activities like writing blogs, contributing to online forums and using instant messaging services.

Elsewhere, QQ, Renren, and Kaixin001 were found to be among the top social networks at present.

While Facebook was generally considered to be "cool", "innovative" and "forward-thinking", its impact in China has been comparatively muted, as access to its pages is currently limited.

Over two-thirds of the social network audience had logged on to these platforms via their mobile phone, with visitors to Renren and Kaixin001 around twice as likely to opt for this route than to use a PC.

Some 77% of the social networking user base also displayed greater levels of favourability towards brands which are leveraging these platforms.

Branded gifts were the marketing tool which met with the most acceptance among this cohort, on a score of 74%, but 73% said they would accept exposure to advertising for continued free access.

A majority had also looked at an official website or searched for more information about a company or product after viewing a relevant ad hosted on a social network.

By category, brands in the technology, e-commerce and consumer goods sectors had secured the greatest number of followers to date.

Cain Wang, director of digital solutions for Millward Brown, argued that social media provided marketers a key way to "stay close to your consumers and make friends with them."

"Brands and advertisers should have the confidence to present themselves to consumers and learn how to improve effectiveness through practice and testing," Wang added.

More broadly, only 15% of individuals in the poll held a positive view of mobile advertising, rising to 22% for TV spots and 23% for web ads.

Recent figures from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology showed that the online population in China expanded by 20 million people, to 404 million people overall, in the first quarter of 2010.

This included 191 million people who were using social networks, and 174 million people who utilised the mobile internet.

The Ministry also stated that the revenues generated by online advertising, retail, gaming and paid search all rose by over 20% in this period year-on-year.

Data sourced from People's Daily/Marketing Interactive; additional content by Warc staff