If ever there was a company that illustrated the power of social media marketing in China, it is Xiaomi. The domestic smartphone brand has become a major market player in China in just a few short years. As well as recognising the needs of the market and designing low-cost smartphones to meet them, Xiaomi has utilised a remarkably simple, yet highly clever, marketing strategy.
In a market where huge global brands such as Samsung and Apple throw millions of dollars at promotional strategies, Xiaomi has been able to get the attention of Chinese consumers in a very different way. We take a look at how the company managed to become China's top-selling smartphone brand while spending virtually nothing on paid advertising.
Regardless of what country you are in, one of the easiest ways to fail at social media is to only think about yourself. The companies that do well at social media marketing in China are those who try to provide value to their fans. Xiaomi has over 8 million Weibo fans, and has amassed such a following of dedicated people, who refer to themselves as "mi fen", through the company's attitude of wanting to please its followers.
As Amanda Chen, Xiaomi's global director of marketing, explains the company values social media because it's where we can easily listen to our users, get their feedback and tell them what we think right away.
Involving fans at each stage of the process
Xiaomi have used social media marketing in China to build bridges with their fans and create a dialogue. Xiaomi uses giveaways and discounts to entice people to follow them in the first place, then gives them a say in what the company does, and responds to their comments and questions. Their fans have an input on everything from the development of new products to the ways in which those products are marketed, creating a strong connection with the brand and generating fierce loyalty.
With a strong social media presence, and a fanatical fan base, Xiaomi has been able to take advantage of quick-fire promotions on popular shopping days to whip buyers into a frenzy. Singles Day is China's biggest online shopping day, with the total sales figures easily eclipsing Black Friday or Cyber Monday. In November 2014, Xiaomi launched a flash sale which saw them shift 720,000 devices in a 12-hour period, making CNY 1 billion (GBP 112 million) in revenue.
Succeed like Xiaomi
Xiaomi's success comes from the fact that they have used social media marketing in China to create brand loyalty, generate word-of-mouth marketing, and make their fans feel involved in the way the company operates. Their success attests to the fact that an investment in time when marketing in China can be just as effective as paid-for campaigns, when approached with the right attitude and skill set.
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