Digital Marketing in China


One of the world’s largest online marketplace, China, with over 940 million internet users and a rapidly growing e-commerce industry. With such massive audience, it’s inevitable that digital marketing in China has become a crucial component of any successful marketing strategy for foreign businesses that planning to enter Chinese market. However, marketing in China comes with its own unique set of challenges, from navigating government regulations to understanding cultural nuances. In this post, we’ll explore some of the key considerations for digital marketing in China and offer some tips for successfully reaching this massive audience.

Some of these popular digital platforms such as Google, Facebook, and YouTube are either blocked or heavily restricted in China, and China always have their own alternatives, this unique situation reflects China’s emphasis on promoting domestic innovation and self-reliance, as well as its commitment to maintaining tight control over the country’s digital landscape. Let’s check out on these interesting comparisons in the field of Search Engine Marketing, Social Media, and Video Sharing Platform.

1. Search Engines in China

It is a well-known fact that the world’s major search engines in terms of market share are Google, Microsoft Bing, and Yahoo. However, many people may not be aware that China has its own answer to these search engines. Several major search engines that are popular among Chinese consumers which we’ll go in briefly

Digital Marketing in China 1

1.1 Baidu

Baidu 百度 has established itself as a dominant player in the Chinese search market, with a market share of over 70%. Its rise to prominence can be attributed to a combination of factors, including its focus on Chinese language search, its ability to adapt to the rapidly evolving digital landscape, and its investments in cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data. Baidu also offers a range of services beyond search, including online advertising, cloud computing, and autonomous driving. With over 940 million internet users in China, Baidu has become an indispensable part of the country’s digital infrastructure, connecting businesses and consumers with a wealth of information and services. As China’s influence in the global economy continues to grow, Baidu’s reach and influence are sure to expand, making it a crucial player in the global digital landscape.

Baidu has developed a range of products that directly compete with Google’s offerings. One example is Baidu Maps, which offers similar functionalities to Google Maps. Baidu Maps provides users with accurate and up-to-date maps and directions, as well as real-time traffic updates and street-level imagery. In addition, Baidu Maps offers a range of features that are tailored to the Chinese market, such as support for popular local services like DiDi Chuxing 滴滴出行 (a ride-hailing service) and Meituan 美团 (a food delivery and group buying platform).

Other Baidu products that compete with Google include Baidu Tieba (a social forum platform similar to Google Groups), Baidu Baike (a Chinese-language online encyclopedia similar to Wikipedia), Baidu Wangpan (a cloud storage service that allows users to store and share files online. It offers similar functionalities to Google Drive including the ability to create and share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations) and Baidu Translate (a translation service similar to Google Translate).

1.1.1 Baidu answer to ChatGPT?

Interesting finding: Baidu has its own version of Artificial Intelligence Chatbot called “Ernie Bot 文心一言”. Ernie under development since 2019. It is based on a large language model named and was released on March 17, 2023. During the launching day, Baidu’s CEO Robin Li showed this AI chatbot, which can do sorts of things like solving math problems, writing marketing copy, and answering questions about Chinese literature.

Although there may be debate about whether Ernie Bot is inferior to other language models like Open AI’s ChatGPT or Google Bard, ultimately it is up to the consumer to judge based on the functionalities they value most. Rather than comparing these models, we can appreciate the diversity of approaches to language processing and the unique capabilities each platform brings to the table. At the end of the day, having multiple options for language processing and chatbot technology benefits us all.

Digital Marketing in China 2

1.2 Sogou

Sogou 搜狗 (Search Dog literally), a subsidiary of Tencent is another major Chinese search engine that has gained popularity for its strong focus on language input technology. Its innovative features include a customizable input method editor that allows users to create their own input methods based on their unique typing habits. Sogou has also developed a range of AI-powered tools, including image and voice recognition software, and virtual assistant app that can be integrated with third-party platforms such as WeChat, Tencent QQ, Baidu Maps.

Digital Marketing in China 3

1.3 Shenma

Shenma 神马搜索 is a relatively new search engine in China that was launched in 2014 as a joint venture between Alibaba and UCWeb. Unlike other search engines, Shenma has a strong focus on mobile search for mobile devices and mobile users which is an important market in China given the country’s high mobile penetration rate. Another unique aspect of Shenma is its integration with Alibaba’s ecosystem, which allows users to easily access a range of services such as e-commerce and online payments through the search engine.

Digital Marketing in China 4

1.4 360 Search

360 Search or 360搜索, is a Chinese search engine that focus on user privacy and security. The search engine employs a range of advanced security measures, including SSL encryption, to protect users’ search data and personal information. Additionally, 360 Search offers users a wide range of content types, including web pages, images, videos, and news delivered with a high degree of relevance and accuracy.

2. Social Media in China

Just like search engines, China also has its own unique social media landscape, which presents different opportunities and challenges for digital marketing in the country. Platforms like WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin have become central to the way many Chinese people interact with friends, family, and businesses. With over 1 billion active social media users, understanding the nuances of social media in China is crucial for businesses looking to establish a strong online presence and connect with Chinese consumers. From influencer marketing to mini-programs, there are a variety of strategies that can be used to effectively engage with audiences on Chinese social media.


2.1 Weibo

We can’t ignore Weibo if we’re talking about social media in China. Often said as a combination of Facebook and Twitter, Weibo 微博 has over 550 million registered users and is one of the largest social media platforms in the country. It has become an essential tool for digital marketing in China, offering businesses and brands the opportunity to engage with a massive audience and leverage the platform’s various features and advertising options.

One of the unique features of Weibo is its emphasis on real-time information sharing, allowing users to post and view updates in a rapidly, newsfeed-style format. One of the advantages of Weibo for businesses is its powerful social listening and engagement capabilities. Brands can easily track mentions of their products or services and respond in real-time, which can be particularly valuable for reputation and branding. Weibo also offers a range of advertising options, including promoted posts, display ads, and key opinion leader (KOL) collaborations, making it a versatile platform for businesses of all sizes. However, one potential drawback of Weibo is its heavily regulated content. The Chinese government has strict censorship laws that prohibit discussion of certain topics, and Weibo is responsible for enforcing these regulations on its platform. This can make it challenging for businesses to navigate the platform and effectively engage with users while staying within the confines of government regulations.


2.2 WeChat

WeChat 微信, is a multi-purpose social media platform and instant messaging app that has garnered significant attention and adoption across China and other regions in Asia. Developed by Chinese tech giant Tencent, WeChat has over 1 billion monthly active users, making it one of the largest social media platforms in the world. WeChat allows users to send text and voice messages, make voice and video calls, share photos and videos, post updates on a “moments” feed, play games, book taxis, pay bills, and even shop online. Its wide range of features and user-friendly interface has made it a popular choice for both personal and business use in China and beyond.

WeChat has become a key tool for businesses looking to market their products or services in China. With its wide user base and range of features, WeChat provides businesses with a unique opportunity to build a sales funnel and engage with their customers in a meaningful way. One advantage that WeChat has over other messaging apps like WhatsApp is its built-in payment system, which allows users to easily make purchases and pay for services directly through the app. WeChat also offers a range of marketing tools, including WeChat Official Accounts 微信公众号 and WeChat Pay 微信支付, which businesses can use to reach their target audience and drive sales. Additionally, WeChat’s advanced data analytics capabilities allow businesses to track and analyze customer behavior, enabling them to make informed decisions about their marketing and sales strategies.


2.3 Tencent QQ

Tencent QQ, or simply QQ, is a popular instant messaging software developed by Tencent. With over 800 million registered users, QQ is one of the most widely used communication platforms in China. In addition to its messaging capabilities, QQ also offers a range of features that make it an effective marketing tool. Businesses can leverage QQ’s large user base and its extensive social network to promote their products and services, connect with customers, and build brand awareness. By using QQ’s various marketing tools, businesses can create targeted advertising campaigns, engage with customers through chatbots, and even set up virtual storefronts to sell products directly within the QQ platform.


2.4 Zhihu

Zhihu知乎also known as the “Chinese Quora,” is a popular question-and-answer platform in China that has gained significant traction in recent years. It was launched in 2011 and has since amassed over 220 million registered users. Zhihu is known for its in-depth and high-quality content, with users asking and answering a wide range of questions on topics such as science, technology, education, business, and culture.

What sets Zhihu apart from other Q&A platforms is its focus on creating a community of experts and professionals, who can share their knowledge and insights with a wider audience. This makes it an ideal platform for businesses and marketers looking to connect with potential customers and establish their expertise in a particular field. Companies can use Zhihu to answer questions related to their industry, provide valuable insights, and engage with potential customers in a more personal and meaningful way.


Glossary: Wanghong

Wanghong 网红 is a Chinese term that refers to internet celebrities or influencers who have gained a large following on social media platforms such as Weibo, WeChat, Douyin, and Xiaohongshu. These individuals are often highly influential in shaping consumer behavior and trends, particularly among younger generations in China. They can earn significant income through sponsorships, advertising, and product placements, as brands seek to leverage their large and engaged audiences for marketing purposes. In recent years, the rise of wanghong has had a significant impact on the advertising and marketing landscape in China, with many brands investing heavily in influencer marketing campaigns to reach their target audiences.

3. Video Sharing Platforms in China

Video sharing platforms in China have become increasingly popular in recent years, with the rise of video marketing and the growing demand for video content. These platforms offer a range of video content, from short-form videos that are less than 5 minutes long to longer videos that can be over an hour in length. They have become an important tool for businesses looking to promote their products and services, as well as for individuals who want to share their creative content with a wider audience. Some of the most popular video sharing platforms in China include Douyin (also known as TikTok outside of China), Xiaohongshu, Kuaishou, Bilibili, and Youku. These platforms offer unique features and cater to different audiences, making them an important part of the Chinese digital marketing landscape.

Digital Marketing in China 5

3.1 Douyin | TikTok

Douyin 抖音, also known as TikTok outside of China, is a short-video sharing app that has taken the Chinese and global market by storm. Developed by Bytedance, a technology company based in Beijing, Douyin allows users to create and share short-form videos, with a focus on creative and engaging content. The platform has become a powerful tool for digital marketing, with businesses leveraging its massive user base and advanced algorithms to promote their products and services. Douyin’s popularity has spurred the growth of other video-sharing platforms in China, with both long-form and short-form video content becoming an increasingly important part of the country’s digital ecosystem.

Douyin allows users to create and share short videos, often set to music or other audio tracks, and offers a variety of editing tools to make the videos visually appealing. With over 600 million daily active users, Douyin has become a popular platform for digital marketing, especially for businesses targeting younger audiences. One of the unique features of Douyin is its algorithm-driven content recommendations, which allow users to discover new videos and creators based on their interests and past viewing behavior. This presents an opportunity for businesses to reach new audiences by creating compelling and relevant content that resonates with Douyin users. Overall, Douyin has emerged as a powerful tool for businesses looking to expand their digital marketing efforts in China and reach younger, tech-savvy audiences through creative and engaging video content.

Digital Marketing in China 6

3.2 XiaoHongshu

XiaoHongshu 小红书 literally translates into “Little Red Book” has been described as China answer to Instagram is a popular social e-commerce app in China that has gained significant traction among young Chinese consumers. Launched in 2013, Xiaohongshu has quickly become a go-to platform for young consumers seeking product recommendations, fashion tips, and travel inspiration. It combines the features of a social network and an e-commerce platform, allowing users to share their experiences and purchase products directly through the app. With its user-generated content and highly engaged community, Xiaohongshu is a valuable marketing channel for brands looking to connect with China’s young and tech-savvy demographic.

Digital Marketing in China 7

3.3 Kuaishou

Kuaishou 快手literally “Quick Hand” famous of producing “Snack Video” is another popular video-sharing platform in China. Comparable to TikTok, users can upload and share short-form videos, ranging from 15 seconds to 3 minutes. The app has gained significant popularity among users in lower-tier cities and rural areas, making it an attractive platform for brands looking to target these audiences. Additionally, Kuaishou’s algorithm is designed to promote user-generated content and organic discovery, which can be beneficial for businesses looking to build a loyal following on the platform.

Digital Marketing in China 8

3.3 Bilibili

Bilibili, known as B 站 among Chinese netizen, is a video sharing platform that allows users to watch, upload, and comment on videos with overlaid commentary. Originally targeting a niche market focused on animation, comics, and games, Bilibili has since expanded to a wider audience and is now a major over-the-top streaming platform offering on-demand videos such as documentaries, variety shows, and original programming. Bilibili is also famous for its commenting system that displays scrolling comments on the video, known as “bullet curtains” or “弹幕” in Chinese.

Digital Marketing in China 9


Youku优酷, used to known as “China YouTube,” is a popular video sharing platform in China that hosts a wide variety of user-generated and professional content. The site was launched in 2006 and quickly gained popularity due to its broad selection of television dramas, movies, and various type of video contents. Youku has since expanded to include a range of original programming, including variety shows, documentaries, and short films. As one of the largest video hosting sites in China, Youku has become an essential platform for businesses looking to advertise their products and services through video marketing.

Chinese Digital Marketing Platform in a nutshell

Digital marketing in China offers huge opportunities for brands looking to reach a massive and growing audience. However, success in China requires a deep understanding of the unique characteristics of the Chinese digital landscape, as well as cultural nuances and consumer behavior. By taking the time to understand these factors and developing a comprehensive digital marketing strategy, brands can effectively reach Chinese consumers and build lasting relationships with this important market. Thank you for reading our content. As a final note, we have prepared a convenient table summarizing the above-mentioned China digital marketing platforms for easy reference:

Platform Category
Search Engine
Search Engine
Mobile-First Search Engine
360 Search
Search Engine
Social Media
Social Media + Instant Text Messaging + Mobile Payment & Digital Wallet
Tencent QQ
Instant Text Messaging
Forum & Online Community
Douyin (TikTok)
Video Sharing Platform
Video Sharing Platform
Video Sharing Platform
Video Sharing Platform
Video Sharing Platform

About WebNIC upcoming China Accerelation Solution

China Acceleration is a cutting-edge SaaS-based solution designed to Optimized the performance of websites for web traffic visitors from China. On average, China Acceleration provides a 100% faster experience during peak hours compared to periods without its usage. Let’s check out what sets this product apart:

  1. Zero Commitment approach
  2. No Technical Barrier Policy
  3. Exemption from the burdensome ICP requirement.

Keen to become a WebNIC Business Partner and start selling variety of WebNIC Digital Products? Get in touch with us through [email protected] 

Digital Marketing in China 10
Digital Marketing in China 11

Author: Chan Kang

Digital Marketing in China 12

Designer: Jackson