In an earlier LinkedIn post, I provided a brief account of the Chinese social media landscape and listed some of the most popular social media platforms in China these days. As of 2015, there are 659 million active social media users in the country and that social media usage is already at a very high level, with 99% of China’s Internet community using it to various extent.
To marketers, these numbers are just a start. What matters is the consumer behaviours of this market, i.e., how Chinese social media have been using these platforms. Follow is a narrative of a typical day of a Chinese social media user (such as myself), which sheds light on features and functions of social media that Chinese users desire and use frequently.
8 AM: Reading through new posts by WeChat public accounts
The first thing I get up in the morning (while I am still half awake in bed) is to grab my phone, open WeChat, and scroll though these subscriptions. I’ve subscripted to more than 30-ish WeChat public accounts, whose topic areas range from news, commentary, to fashion, food, luxury. It’s simply impossible for me to read all of them, not to mention other WeChat users who have usually subscribed to much more accounts than me.
Most of the time, I make the judgement whether to click the subscribed account in 2-3 seconds, all based on how intriguing the most recent headline is. In rare cases, I would click into the account anyway because 1) I’ve following it for a long time and I trust the quality of its content already, 2) I need the information in this particular area, or 3) I do not want to lag behind (that is usually the case with fashion/celebrity gossip WeChat accounts).
10 AM: Keep up with the news and sharing content to WeChat Moment or Weibo
We are all social animal. We love sharing. Deep down, we always want feedbacks from our friends and want to chat with others. News is one of the topics people discuss most often. With the widespread mobile news applications, it has become much easier to share and discuss real-time news. It’s not surprising that when you hop on a bus/subway in China, you will see everybody, male and female, young and old, facing down and looking at their phone, thumbs keep scrolling down the screen.
Because I am bored and there are no other things to do while commuting, I’ll read the news and continue to read the eye-catching articles I saw earlier on my WeChat. I’ll probably pick 1-2 of them to share to my friends, WeChat Moment and Weibo, either because it’s breaking news, it’s funny, or that I think others can relate to the article like I do.
12-2 PM: Reply the comments to the articles I shared earlier and interact with friends or sometimes the content producer
It’s lunch break. After the heavy work in the morning, everybody needs to relax. So I hop on my computer and log onto Web WeChat simply because it’s easier to type on actual keyboard. If it’s urgent, I can send files to my colleagues/boss/clients via WeChat, making sure the receiver can get it anywhere as long as they have networks and I myself can get quick responses.
Now my friends on my social network should have read the articles I shared. Since I have some leisure time, I’ll probably read their comments, reply them and if they happen to be online (and they usually are), we would have endless conversation.
Statistics show that the most active response rate on social media differs on different devices. For cellphone, the user response rate is most active around 10 a.m., tablet around 1 p.m., and PC around 9 p.m.
8 PM: Browsing through e-commerce sites and making payment
One in three Internet users make purchase online each month and the percentage is growing. I am of course one of them. While Taobao and Tmall are still the most popular platforms, the e-commerce market has become much more disaggregated now. If it’s a special day such as the Singles Day, Taobao and Tmall are the must go-to sites. But it’s just a normal day and I know exactly what product or categories of goods I am looking for, it’ll save me much time. If I am looking for books, I’ll go to Amazon or Dangdang; for grocery, I’ll go to Jingdong or Yihaodian; for cosmetics and fashion, since it’s much easier to make overseas purchase thanks to the international shipping discounts and services, I can now shop on Sasa, Sephora, Macy’s, ASOS and the like.
The payment process is even easier. Few use Paypal in China. The most common payment method is Alipay. Now I am checking my Alipay account, which no only earns me extra money, but also make my life easier by saving me transaction fee and enabling real-time payment, be it for oversea/domestic purchase, paying for utilities, transferring money to my friends and families, or even paying for visa application fee.
10-12 PM: Sending and Receiving Lucky Money on WeChat
It’s late in my time but for my friends, colleagues and boss living and travelling all over the world, it may be just the middle of the day. That’s why my WeChat groups are so active even late at night. To poke those keep silent in the group, someone will throw out a WeChat Lucky Money, with unknown amount of (real) money in it. Suddenly, everyone in the group is awake and active and try to get a share of the Lucky Money, which they could later save in their WeChat Wallet for future use.