Integration with Chinese social media, WeChat and Weibo
The largest Chinese mass media
The number of Chinese people traveling abroad is growing exponentially every year. The tourist groups mostly consist of the Chinese of the preretirement age. It can partly explain their somewhat “bizarre” behavior. The local Chinese tour operators normally offer cheap “all-inclusive” programs with staying at 3/4-star hotels on the outskirts. These tourists are not to see the local authentic atmosphere for their Chinese guides would not allow them. Individual travelers from China are the most solvent group, which is worthy to focus on for western businesses. These new “forward-looking” Chinese are active Internet users who are able on their own to book the tickets, pay for accommodation at any hotel they like, and plan their own route.
Spreading increasingly wider, this form of individual tourism covers more and more tourist infrastructure, i.e. potential places where Chinese tourists can appear, like hotels, public catering places, museums, exhibitions, malls, etc. So, to avoid the trend to catch your business by surprise, you can resort to simple tools to adapt your service to China and make it “China-friendly”.
Infrastructure preparation includes actions aimed at adapting your business to the Chinese audience. As the first acquaintance takes place online, you can employ the tools to show your being adapted to service clients from China. Your Website
There is no need to reinvent the wheel: the typical western website structure is customary to the Chinese, so it would be sufficient to make a proper localization of the site into Chinese.
The most vivid example would be the Italian Rinascente store. Instead of translating the multi-page website entirely, some additional pages with the essential information for Chinese visitors were created. To avoid website loading troubles, it would be better to host the Chinese version in Hong Kong or Singapore to have the website opened much quicker. We recommend to use the hosting provider zzidc.com. The price would be about USD 300 including one year of service and a domain in the CN zone.
There are two main options enabled by WeChat:
The incoming request processing tool will be either a group chat or company's subscription account (to learn more about the difference between the group chat and subscription account, read “How to enter the Chinese online market with a minimum budget”). The generated QR-code shall be placed on the Chinese version of your website, so the customers can scan it and ask any questions, for example, about the prices, terms, or discounts. The content management in WeChat has the same functions as the news updates on your website or the company's page on Facebook.
The content is posted in Chinese and, thanks to reposts and targeted forwarding to group chats, allows you to reach more target audience.
Weibo microblogging service is a perfect image tool to promote your business. First, Weibo is similar to Instagram in functionality – it allows you to share images, video, and active links with your followers. Second, it is convenient to make targeting settings for tens of thousands of users by age, gender, location, and topics.
Therefore, you will have a Chinese language website easy to open from mainland China, as well as active accounts in the largest Chinese social media accessible to your visitors. This infrastructure will be sufficient to demonstrate your proclivity for clients from China.
The travel portal mafengwo.cn with an audience of 21 million of visits per month (according to SimilarWeb). An average price of banner ads on the site or in the mobile app is 15,000+ CNY per day. Mafengwo has its own forum with many thematic sections and possibility to post active links to your website for free.
The travel portal qyer.com with an audience of more than 8 million of users per month (according to SimilarWeb).
This portal is for independent travelers (not tourist groups), and it offers individual routes with locations worth visiting. Qyer issues a guide for the biggest tourist cities specifying local showplaces, restaurants, and shopping malls. The price of being mentioned in such a guide is 150,000+ CNY per month.
The largest Chinese aggregator for air and train tickets ctrip.com with a lot of additional functions from hotel booking to car rental. The monthly traffic is 43 million users (according to SimilarWeb). The price for advertisement on the site and in the mobile app is 20,000+ CNY.
Each large tourist portal has its own integrated forums; there are also a great number of general information portals where you can post for free. Some of them are:http://www.mafengwo.cn/group/
Toutiao stands apart and, along with Sohu and Sina, is one of the main news feed for advanced Chinese Internet users with monthly traffic of 400 million visitors. Toutiao's main feature is the presentation of relevant material. The resource ranges the recommendations feed with the use of neural network algorithms to cover the maximum target audience. Its western equivalent is BuzzFeed.
The two sure-fire online services for the best coverage of the audience and indexing in Baidu search results (the equivalent of Google banned in China):
Baidu Zhihu, a Q&A service (the equivalent of Quora). We may ask a question as Chinese users and then answer it.
Baidu Tieba – here, we create and run a blog to post selling articles with active links to the Chinese version of our website.
TripAdvisor Chinese Version
This is one of the first sources for a Chinese tourist to refer when planning a trip. Tripadvisor.cn synchronizes with its international version; however, even if already registered there, you may face troubles with perception of information about your service due to machine translation. Once you are registered in the Chinese version of the service, your page will be available only to Chinese users.
Where can you get Chinese traffic with a minimum budget? The main channels for promotion and target audience attraction are:
A lot of groups dedicated to your business area can be found on WeChat. Ads can be posted by the administrator or independently, in case the group is not private. Normally, one administrator can run dozens of similar groups with total coverage of thousands of people. You post news at your subscription account and make a distribution with active links to the Chinese version of your website. That is the way for Chinese people to find your page and subscribe to you on WeChat.
Posts localized into Chinese may be directed to Weibo from, for example, your Instagram account. The content shall be situational and relevant for Chinese clients. By varying the targeting settings, the posts can be promoted based on geography, age, gender, and topics similar to your business.
Free posting on dedicated forums and news portals
The articles, which you post at your subscription account and forward to dedicated groups, can also be copied to forums and news portals for free. By posting regularly, you can improve the indexing of materials about you in Baidu search results and attract more target audience. The same is right to Baidu services (Zhihu/Tieba) that are usually at the Baidu top positions.
When posting any materials, include a link to the Chinese version of your website, QR-code of your subscription account, and a link to your Weibo official page: this will increase the number of followers and convert the Chinese leads to clients.
Clients from China are closer than you think, and a journey of a thousand miles begins with proper infrastructure and marketing.