5 Ways to Link Chinese Social Media Accounts With eCommerce

 In China, Digital Marketing, Ecommerce, Social Media Marketing

Social media represents a serious investment for any brand and Chinese social media even more so – requiring specialist in house knowledge or outside agencies (Like us!)

One of the most common questions we get asked as an agency is, “how can we calculate ROI from these activities?”. With some clients this is simple, we can look at Chinese spend rising or Chinese bookings we’ve generated. But for others it is harder – and with Brexit starting to squeeze budgets, knowing your ROI is more important than ever.

Beyond the nebulous goal of pure ‘brand awareness’ we think that all social media should be an asset that is monetised by a brand through eCommerce – and specifically social commerce.

In China this has never been easier and we’ve ranked our top five methods below.

Mobile Dominates the eCommerce ecosystem in China

We’ve focused on ‘mobile-first’ and mobile compatible systems in this report because as you can see from the graph above, mobile is dominating the eCommerce ecosystem in China.

1. WeChat eCommerce

Our preferred method is our WeCommerce software. Seamlessly integrating with China’s most popular social network, WeChat, and your existing eCommerce site, it allows consumers to buy in a few clicks from each marketing post. Retaining the luxury look and feel of your Western eCommerce site, but with the speed of a website based in China, Chinese consumers can pay using WeChat Pay, Alipay (to reach China’s Cashless Consumers) or a Chinese credit card. And because you own the server, you’ll own your customer data in a way you never could with Tmall, JD, or any other option here.

Focus: Mobile

Social Network: WeChat, (or we also support direct linking from Weibo)

Integrates with: Magento, Magento 2, Demandware, Shopify etc.

Good For: Luxury eCommerce, Companies with strong brands

If you’re interested in the future of social commerce, get in touch and we’ll take you through how you can monetize your social content with WeCommerce.

2. Weibo Window

Next is Weibo Window, Weibo’s new shopping integration. Weibo Window allows brands to showcase one product and place a buy button directly inside a post. Weibo is about brand awareness and public interactions – so this is a great way to involve influencers with your brand or simply to encourage people to try it for the first time.

Unfortunately due to Weibo’s relationship with Alibaba, the only sites with direct linkage here are Taobao and Tmall. Otherwise brands can add products manually post by post – but losing some functionality around attribution of sales.

Focus: Mobile, Desktop

Social Network: Weibo Only

Integrates with: Tmall, Taobao

Good For: FMCG, Impulse Purchasing

weibo window example post

An example Weibo Window product placement within a standard Weibo post

3. WeChat Store (3rd Party Site)

Aside from our enterprise-grade eCommerce software, there exist several ‘template-based’ models that also allow users to link to eCommerce stores from within WeChat posts. Whilst these provide some of the functionality of our model, they are very much ‘manual’. Products must be uploaded manually rather than automatically scraped and orders are taken in the form of emails to one email address. In addition, they offer limited customisation of each page – giving each a similar feel.

Whilst not premium in feel, they are inexpensive and remain a great way for start-ups and SMEs to get their foot in the door with Chinese social selling. However, once brands reach scale, they may want to upgrade.

Focus: Mobile

Social Network: WeChat Only

Integrates with: N/a (standalone only)

Good For: Start-ups, SMEs, FMCG, Craft Products

4. Super Fensitong Product Adverts

Aside from Weibo Window, Weibo also allows brands to tag posts and images with website links from within its advertising platform Super Fensitong. Whilst this is similar to Weibo Window it does not provide the user with a prominent buy button and information about the product itself – reviews, price and details must be placed within the body of the post.

As a result, these adverts do not have the same ‘official’ feel of Weibo Window and this makes them less efficient at driving purchases.

Focus: Mobile, Desktop

Social Network: Weibo Only

Integrates with: N/a

Good For: Casual posts, linking to a site rather than a product

5. Link to 3rd Party Sites

Finally, brands can just link to their existing eCommerce sites from any Chinese social media site. At present, this is the most widespread form of social media monetisation in China – but it is also one of the least effective.

Why? Because in most cases these links are to websites that are a) not hosted in China and b) not China optimised. That means they not only load at a snail’s pace for Chinese users (one London-based department store’s site taking over 1 minute to load), but are sluggish to respond once they have done, often lacking Chinese language support, payments support and shipping guides in Chinese.

So, whilst this does allow Chinese users to buy – if they are prepared to wait, if they have a foreign credit card and if the shopping cart software isn’t blocked by the Great Firewall – this isn’t a good experience.

Focus: Mobile, Desktop

Social Network: Any

Integrates with: N/a

Good For: Brands with web hosting in China only!

So there you have it, five ways to monetise your social media in China – from quick and cheap to enterprise grade and bespoke.

As a China focused digital agency we have extensive experience with all of these methods. To find out how each can be optimised for your brand and your followers, contact us below and we will be happy to help. And if you are stuck using the last method to promote your products in China, be aware of its limitations – and when you’re ready to move on, give us a call.

If you’re interested in the future of social commerce, get in touch and we’ll take you through how you can monetize your social content with WeCommerce.

TongDigital is an agency at the forefront of social commerce and digital marketing in China. We focus on social commerce through WeChat, social media marketing, digital PR and media buying in China.

Get in touch for a preliminary consultation on how to best sell direct to the Chinese consumer.

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