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In China, Social Networkers Embrace Brands

Following brands has a significant influence on friends’ purchase behavior

China remains a difficult market for foreign brands to penetrate on social media. Social networkers are concentrated on homegrown sites, as opposed to Facebook, which is banned in the country, and other worldwide social sites. Still, the massive social user base in China, and the growing buying power of the population, have made the country hard to ignore. And data indicates that brands who do make the foray into social in China are likely to be well-received.

In Q2 2012, InSites Consulting surveyed social network users in select countries and found that two-thirds of those in China reported following brands on social media—the highest percentage among all surveyed countries.

However, social networkers in China tend to be selective about the brands they choose to follow. Respondents followed an average 6.7 brands each in China. That’s compared to 15.1 brands followed on average in the US. Users in China do not let those follows lay fallow, though, as many do in the US. Sixty percent reported interacting with chosen brands regularly.

In return for engagement, users expect brands to respond in kind. Arnold Worldwide found in April that three-quarters of those in China who posted on a brand’s social network page expected to receive a response at least most of the time.

Perhaps the most important indicator for brands deciding whether to jump onto a new social site in a new country is the fact that social networks influence purchase behavior in China. Ipsos OTX and Ipsos Global @dvisor found in March that internet users in China were the most likely of all other Asia-Pacific countries surveyed to buy a brand because a friend “liked” or followed it.

Brands can get plenty of value and ROI from connecting with social users in China, but they have to really engage. They shouldn’t make the mistake of letting it be a one-sided relationship.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Together, TV and Tablets Drive Brand Searches” and “Ad Buyers Get Down to Brass Tacks on Mobile.”

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