The drivers of digital media use in Asia: Findings from Social Media Matters

Low Lai Chow

Understanding an audience of 600 million people is no simple task, but it is the very challenge facing brands that want to engage members of China's burgeoning online community. Size, however, is not the only problem, as the digital space in the world's most populous nation also has a truly distinctive character.

"China is a very unique market," Sam Flemming, founder and president of CIC, the analytics firm, told delegates at the second annual Social Media Matters conference, which took place in Hong Kong in September 2013. As a result, marketers must truly understand Chinese culture, customs and trends if they are to make headway both online and offline.

Coca-Cola, the soft drink, provided an example of this in practice. In a recent campaign, the company employed terms like "Gao Shuai Fu" – which can be translated as "Tall, rich and handsome" – and similar pieces of online slang that will only be understood if "you're young in China", Flemming said. "Coke got it, and they put these nicknames on Coke bottles for people to buy," he added.