TNS Research International study on most frequently used social media in China

11 June, 2010


SHANGHAI — When thinking about social media, the common tendency is to think about social networking sites such as Renren or Kaixin001. However, social media has a wider meaning and connotation in China such as blogs, micro-blogs, video (picture) sharing sites, wiki, reviews…among which BBS and forum are most frequently used - according to a study by TNS Research International, the leading research agency in China.

The latest TNS Research International study finds that Chinese netizens are drawn to many different types of social media, among which bulletin boards and forums were most frequently used, with 62% of social media users visiting them at least once a day. 51% of users wrote blogs or read, commented on blogs of others regularly. 48% of social media users also visited video sharing sites like Youku and Tudou regularly. While social networking sites such as Renren and Kaixin001 were not on the top of the list, they were still checked by 46% of users as well. Photo sharing, wiki-type sites, Q&A platforms, virtual world, opinion/review sites like Dianping, and micro-blogs were all accessed frequently by the Chinese.

While there is no denying the fact that social media plays a significant role in consumers’ lives and they delight in discussing and commenting upon phenomenon like Brother Sharp, Shoushou Scandal, and Furong Jiejie*, the key question is whether the platform has relevance for brands. Brands need to keep a firm hand on the pulse of the social media which is borne by the fact that as many as 90% of consumers came across a negative comment about a brand on social media. Clearly brands need to be on their guard to be able to swiftly counter and manage any negative comments germinating on the net. Similarly 86% of the consumers came across a positive comment about a brand in social media.

Not unexpectedly, the major trigger for positive word of mouth is a high degree of consumer satisfaction (87%). Another interesting driver is the possibility that either a new brand or its advertising catches their attention (55% and 48%).

“Chinese actually have a natural affinity for social media as they allow freedom of expression and provide a personal space. They can share their happiness from consuming wonderful products, or relish their gratifying experiences. So the best way to make them talk is to delight them. Marketers also need to note every time marketing has something new to talk about, there is an opportunity to generate some excitement in social media. ” commented Mr. Ashok Sethi, the Shanghai-based Head of Consumer Insights for Emerging Markets in TNS Research International.

Just as a positive experience can trigger a pleasant word of mouth, a poor service (81%) and high dissatisfaction (78%) would result in a negative ripple. Many other factors like misleading claims (76%), harmful goods (68%), and poor CSR perception (47%) also lead to negative comments in social media.

What do consumers expect brands to say or do in social media? The study shows that consumers’ expectation from brands spanned news, views, to guidance. They hope to see the latest news about the brand, other consumers’ use experience, and promotion or product updates. 73% of consumers said social media helps them become aware of a brand and 66% admitted that it could possibly make them include the brand in their considerations set.

“Social media is a dense jungle, however, not only in terms of the platforms available but also in terms of what one can do with each of these platforms”, said Serene Wong, CEO of TNS Research International in China, “selection of the right social media platform in relation to the marketing task is hence a challenge”. The research shows that different social media tools and platforms vary in terms of what they can do for the brand. When creating awareness is the priority, brand information within micro-blogs and all powerful BBS are effective; if relationship is to be strengthened, events in online community or brand placement in a virtual world site are welcomed; product review information and fan club in social networking sites are quite helpful for consumers to evaluate the brands.

“As all races can not be won by the same horse, not all marketing objectives can be met by one tool of social media – however powerful it may seem – it is definitely “horses for courses” for effective deployment of social media.” Serene added.

Note:
* Brother Sharp, refers to a stroller in Ningbo City whose dressing and hairdo are very fashionable – he wears all the clothes he can get and doesn’t wash and cut his hair for a long time, but actually he looks quite handsome with a pair of sharp eyes.
* Shoushou Scandal, nude picture scandal of a car model Shoushou.
* Furong Jiejie, a girl who keeps uploading lots of her pictures and writings to internet, which led to a discussion among the internet users.


Contact
Cindy Liu
Consumer Insights & Communications Manager
Tel: 8621-3428 9988 ext. 156
Mobile: 1350 192 4102
Email: cindy.liu@tns-global.com  

About TNS Research International China
With the merger of formerly TNS Custom and Research International, TNS Research International China is cemented as the leading custom market research agency in China.

TNS Research international China delivers actionable insights and research-based business advice to its clients so that they can make more effective business decisions. TNS Research International China offers comprehensive industry knowledge within the Consumer, Finance, Technology, Automotive sectors, supported by a suite of leading edge and unique business solutions that stretches across the entire range of marketing and business issues, specialising in product development & innovation, brand and communication, stakeholder management, retail & shopper, and qualitative research.

With its more than 500 employees and around 300 researchers, who professionalise in delivering innovative thinking and excellent service to local and multi-national clients, TNS Research International China operates across 6 offices in China, and is committed to helping local leading companies win both in China and global markets and multi-national companies be successful in China.
 
For more information please visit the website www.tnsglobal.com.

About Kantar
Kantar is one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy networks. By uniting the diverse talents of its 13 specialist companies, the group aims to become the pre-eminent provider of compelling and inspirational insights for the global business community. Its 26,500 employees work across 95 countries and across the whole spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at each and every point of the consumer cycle. The group’s services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies.

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