Launch a Successful Influencer Marketing Campaign in China Using Key 2018 Trends

If you are a savvy marketing manager who wants to tap into the enormous Chinese consumer market, you may already be aware of the many factors that make this market so different. Internet censorship and the popularity of local social media platforms such as Weibo and Wechat being some of them.

  • What are the 2018 trends that you should be aware of in order to access this lucrative market?
  • What are the real differences between Weibo and WeChat?
  • When should you be launching your influencer marketing campaign?

These are some of the insider insights that we will be covering here.

Key 2018 trends making an impact in China

Below are two important trends that you should consider during the development of your influencer marketing campaign.

Differences between Weibo and WeChat

These two local social media platforms remain the two primary media where brands spend the most budget. While each platform has its own advantages and restrictions, they’re both excellent opportunities for brands looking to develop influencer marketing campaigns for the Chinese market.

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Launched by Sina Corporation in 2009, Weibo is a microblogging website and app with over 600 million users.

This popular social media platform allows users to discover, share, and create content that’s under 140 Chinese characters long, along with 9 images (or one video). Weibo is one of the best platforms for announcing new launches and events.

Key Features

  • Commercial AccountsSimilar to Twitter, brands can create their own company accounts that can be used to gather followers, partner with influencers and push out content to their target audiences. A verification process gives brands the option to verify their accounts as an additional authoritative measure.
  • Content: Short-format, media-rich content only with the ability to add direct links in posts.
  • Advertising: Commercial messaging is possible but in order for posts to reach more than 10% of your followers, an additional distribution fee is payable to Weibo.
  • Exposure: Since Weibo is an open platform, brands have far greater levels of exposure. Even non-account holders can view Weibo posts.
  • Engagement: Brands on Weibo can like and comment on user posts, repost content from influencers or followers, and send private messages to users as a form of customer service.


Developed by Tencent, WeChat is a messaging and social media app that was first launched in 2011 and currently has over 1.1 billion accounts.

WeChat is an app that allows users to connect with family and friends and includes features such as video and voice calls, games, and photo sharing. WeChat is ideal for long-term brand image building and storytelling.

Key Features

  • Commercial Accounts: Brands have the option of setting up one of two types of accounts:
    • Subscription Accounts: This type of account is placed in a subscription folder that users can access if they want to view content from particular publishers or brands. Subscription accounts also have the ability to push out one direct message per day. Most influencers have subscription accounts too.
    • Official Service Accounts: This type of account appears as a friend to a user but only gives brands the ability to push 4 direct messages per month. So while it is more visible, interaction is limited.
  • Content: Lengthy, mobile-only articles. More clicks are required to read content and reach an external link compared to Weibo.
  • Advertising: Commercial messaging needs to be far more subtle compared to Weibo, otherwise it will be perceived negatively by the subscribers and generate high unsubscription or “mute push messages” rate if obvious commercial messages are pushed frequently. Subscribers are looking for informative or entertaining content here, like reading a newspaper or magazine. No additional distribution fees are required by WeChat but influencer fees do tend to be higher than equivalent Weibo accounts.
  • Exposure: WeChat is far more private and users can only see posts published by accounts they are subscribed to. They can however use keywords to search for specific content.
  • Engagement: Users can send direct messages to brands as well as like or comment on brand updates and posts.

Key influencers or KOLs (key opinion leaders) have a prominent presence on both Weibo and WeChat and have a huge influence on their many followers. KOL posts and articles do not need to be marked as sponsored so the reader wouldn’t necessarily know that the content is promotional until a call to action or external link is presented to them.

Live streaming

Live streaming has become a trendy way to broadcast events and generate flash sales.

Live streaming is a multi-billion yuan industry in China. One of the contributors to its popularity is definitely the strategic partnership between Weibo and Yizhibo, which gives users the ability to live-broadcast directly on Weibo, without needing to install any additional apps.

The unique ability to interact directly with a target audience means brands can achieve their marketing goals even faster. Here are just a few of the ways that brands can use live streaming to their advantage:

  • Live broadcast branded events such as fashion shows, press conferences, and launch events.
  • Live product launches make for a more interactive experience. Maryline managed to sell 10K lipsticks within 2 hours with the help of one celebrity and 50 beauty live-streaming KOLs.
  • Drive direct sales. This tactic is especially effective for fashion, food and parenting brands.
  • Conduct market research by live testing your products.

When to launch your influencer marketing campaign

In order to make the biggest impact, it helps to be aware of a few key events and dates in the Chinese calendar so that you can plan your campaigns accordingly.

Event: Chinese New Year

  • Level of Importance: High
  • Month: February
  • Campaign Angles: Ideal for campaigns around family gifting, shopping, and travel

Event: Labour Day

  • Level of Importance: High
  • Month: May
  • Campaign Angles: Ideal for campaigns that target international shoppers

Event: Dragon Boat Festival

  • Level of Importance: Low
  • Month: June
  • Campaign Angles: Ideal for boosting general brand image

Event: Summer Vacations

  • Level of Importance: High
  • Month: June/July
  • Campaign Angles: Ideal for campaigns targeting millennials as well as international shoppers

Event: Qixi (Chinese Valentine’s Day)

  • Level of Importance: Medium
  • Month: August
  • Campaign Angles: Ideal for reaching out to millennials and couples

Event: Mid-Autumn Festival

  • Level of Importance: Medium
  • Month: September
  • Campaign Angles: Ideal for boosting general brand image

Event: Golden Week

  • Level of Importance: High
  • Month:October
  • Campaign Angles: This 7-day national holiday is an ideal time to promote sales.

Event: Singles’ Day

  • Level of Importance: High
  • Month: November
  • Campaign Angles: Ideal for reaching 18 – 35 year-olds

Event: Christmas

  • Level of Importance: Medium
  • Month: December
  • Campaign Angles: Ideal for reaching out to people of all ages, especially in terms of sales and events  

Popular influencers in China

Below are just a few of the influencers that are making a huge impact in China at the moment, in different categories.

(The content of posts has been translated in english to facilitate understanding)


This influential blogger is all about fashion and style, and also runs her own business. She currently has over 728 000 fans on Weibo.



Along with being a fashion blogger, Sophie is also a model and actor with over 3 million fans.


Ulantoja is 875,000 followers strong and is a popular influencer amongst moms.


Travel-related brands love working with Teacher Xiao Sha who currently has over 1.3 million fans.


This influencer is popular amongst health and fitness brands. Chen Huanyang currently has over 1.3 million followers.

While influencer marketing campaigns are making a massive impact globally, many experts feel that it is being underutilized in China, leaving brands with an excellent opportunity to reach a new target audience in an impactful way.

To go further, read this article: A Guide to Influencer Marketing for China’s Growing Luxury Market

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