If there is one country to take lessons from in social media, it’s China. Not only does the country account for nearly half of global e-commerce sales, 38% of APAC marketers use social media as a sales channel (as opposed to focusing on awareness like in the US and Europe). Social network ad spending grew 56% in the country in 2016, highlighting brands’ willingness to embrace new platforms. As a result of this openness, many social practices still in their infancy in Western countries are widespread and commonplace in China. L2’s latest study on Social Platforms identifies social media trends that are big in China, and could soon cross over to the US.
Messaging: Despite Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and various platforms’ foray into messaging, the concept hasn’t taken off in the US like it has in China. Brands are just beginning to experiment with messaging consumers directly on social media in the US, while the practice is ubiquitous in China. From 2014 to 2016, brand adoption of mobile messaging service WeChat exploded. As of now, all beauty brands, 96% of Personal Care brands and 90% of Watches & Jewelry brands in L2’s Digital IQ Index are active on leading mobile messaging service WeChat.
Social Commerce: Social commerce accounts for just 1.5% of US e-commerce orders, leaving social media strategies to focus on awareness and creating interest in products. Consumers still must head to brick-and-mortar or e-commerce stores to purchase products they discover on social media. In contrast, 31% of WeChat users in China say they have bought something on the social platform.
This gap in behavior can be attributed to the gap in seamless payments. For example, WeChat has developed its own payment system, which is used by 70% of CPG brands.
Live Streaming: Live streaming is still in infancy in the US, but it has exploded in China. Once a platform for Key Opinion Leaders (aka KOLs) and industry experts, the feature is now mainstream among mobile-savvy millennials. E-tailers and brands are participating in this shift to interactive, real-time content; 69% of Beauty brands in L2’s Index live stream content.
Furthermore, live stream in China can be easily connected to e-commerce. Most brands are choosing Tmall, Taobao and Jumei as their platforms of choice for live streaming, due to the potential for conversion.