Digital Marketing in China Part 2: The 10 Social Media Platforms You Need to Know














Read our second post in this series, Digital Marketing in China Part 2: The 10 Social Media Platforms You Need to Know.


China has a huge and dynamic digital market that has many distinctive features setting it apart from Western social media. One of the biggest challenges for international businesses is that the familiar platforms used elsewhere are not part of the social media landscape in China. Marketers must adapt to the Chinese platforms, which can be more changeable than the big social networks that dominate the market elsewhere.

In Part 1, we discussed some of the unique features of digital marketing in China. In Part 2 we will expand on this by revealing the 10 social platforms that businesses should be using to reach Chinese consumers.


There are challenges if you don’t read Mandarin as these sites are in Chinese at present. Most have apps which are accessed via a QR code. QR codes are frequently used in China and companies set up their own codes for these Chinese social media sites. I’ve also written about China’s Biggest Social Media Networks and The Online Shopping Sites that are Bigger than Amazon which are all based in China.


The 10 Social Media Platforms in China



WeChat is the biggest social media platform in China and it combines many of the features that marketers will be familiar with in Western platforms into one network. It provides everything from games and messaging to financial services. Business users can make use of online shopping services, offer subscription only accounts, or use WeChat to provide services or offer discount coupons. The Customer Relationship Management tools can also be very valuable for businesses.

Some users have recently been concerned about privacy on the site, but WeChat remains the most popular and frequently used social network in China. It will continue to form a key part of any digital marketing campaign.



Qzone is another giant of Chinese social media, so it is essential for businesses to maintain a presence on the site. The site focuses on blogging, but it is associated with Tencent, so there are many ways to interact with users.


Tencent QQ

Tencent is largely an instant messaging service, but there are many additional features including gaming, streaming and the increasingly popular video service. Despite being one of the older platforms, Tencent is particularly popular with the under 20s, which shows how unpredictable the digital market in China can be. Businesses can open their own accounts or use the paid marketing services.


Sina Weibo

Microblogging is very big in China and Sina Weibo, or Weibo as it’s usually called, is the most popular platform for it. Marketers who want to understand the Chinese market should by paying close attention to this site to learn what people are talking about. Brands can monitor their own reviews on Sina Weibo or use it as part of marketing campaigns using influencers or celebrity accounts. It is also possible to engage effectively with users who are sharing their own content and opinions.


Douyin – TikTok

Douyin, better known as TikTok, is the ideal site for video marketing in China. The site is becoming more popular with celebrities, which will enable marketers to identify their target audiences more easily. Some of the most popular accounts are now using the short-video format to tell longer, episodic stories, which offers some exciting new possibilities for digital marketing.



Meitu is known as a photo editing app, but it is expanding on its social features in ways that will make it easier for brands to connect with users. Having a presence on Meitu is essential for brands in the beauty, fashion or lifestyle sectors.



Xiaohonghu is targeted towards women aged 18-35 so it is a key platform for brands targeting this group. Translated as ‘little red book’, the site has some features that make it particularly effective for digital marketing as it focuses on sharing photos and product reviews.



Zhihu is a question and answer site that presents brands with an opportunity to build up their reputation as experts in a particular field. Meaning ‘what do you know?’ its users often post very high quality content and they tend to be better educated, wealthier and more likely to live in large cities. Brands targeting these demographics can benefit from the advertising services offered on Zhihu.



Although it has been around since 2011, Kuaishou has recently gained a lot of popularity as a video sharing platform. Video is becoming more important across many of the Chinese social media platforms, but Kuaishou is focused on this format. Many of the users live outside the major cities, so this platform enables brands to reach consumers that they can’t connect with elsewhere.



The aim of Douban has always been to connect people with similar interests, which means that marketers can use the site to reach specific markets. Douban allows direct marketing to its users, so it is possible to reach out to these users. The rating and recommendation system encompasses all kinds of media and can be hugely influential so brands operating in these areas must manage their reputations on the site.

While these are the social networks that you need to focus on in 2019, it is important to be aware that digital media in China is particularly dynamic. Social networks come and go more often than in the West, with users being readier to switch to new platforms. The platforms can also be more specialised or may add new features that are unique to the Chinese market. Marketers must be aware of all the latest trends in social media in order to run an effective campaign.

8 Competitor Monitoring and Analysis Tools














Looking for competitor analysis tools? This post identifies 8 Competitor Monitoring and Analysis Tools that can be used to check out your competitors or analyse your own organisation’s social media performance.

Successful digital marketing strategies require more than just coming up with creative ideas and reaching out to the right people. An effective marketing campaign must also take into account what your competitors are doing. Social media can provide incredible insights into other brands, but it has also created a huge amount of content that needs to be monitored. Thankfully, there are a range of useful tools that can help you to monitor and analyse your competitors. We’ve included 8 competitor analysis tools in this post, with a summary at the end that includes pricing.


Performing a Competitive Analysis

Recognising the importance of competitor analysis is just the first step towards improving your own social media performance. You must then identify which competitors you need to monitor and find the right tools to keep track of them. The data that you gather must be relevant to your business and helpful when planning your next moves in digital marketing.

The basic steps in performing a competitive analysis will be:

  • Deciding which competitors you need to monitor
  • Identifying their social media accounts
  • Using monitoring tools to track their activities
  • Analysing the results to see what is working for them and what is not
  • Using what you have learned to improve your own digital marketing

The key to getting useful results from your analysis is to choose a specific measure of social media success that you can tie to your competitors’ strategies. For example, you could compare the frequency of posts to the number of followers gained or lost each week. The results of your analysis should then help you to form your own strategy. In this example, they could tell you how many posts you should be making to maintain or grow your audience on a particular network.


Choosing the Right Tools for Competitor Monitoring and Analysis

Gathering all of the data manually would be an immense and time-consuming task, but there are plenty of tools that can help. Here are 8 of the most popular competitor monitoring tools for social media.



AdSova reveals how your competitors are using paid ads online. It can reveal the latest trends and help you to create a more effective digital marketing campaign.



Awario enables you to monitor competitors, mentions of your own brand, or other relevant keywords across the major social networks and the wider web. The industry alerts can provide a useful starting point for identifying the competitors you should be monitoring.


BuzzSumo is quite well-known and focuses on content, so it can help you to understand which types of posts you should be making. In addition to monitoring how widely content is shared, you can also use BuzzSumo to identify the influencers in your sector who have the greatest reach.


FanPage Karma

Another well-known tool, FanPage Karma’s analysis tools can break down your competitors’ social media strategies in terms of engagement activities, posting frequencies and other factors that can inform your own approach.



Iconosquare is limited to Facebook and Instagram, but it does provide detailed analysis of your brand’s performance on these sites. The analysis tools enable you to compare your results to the competition in terms of engagement, reach, growth and other metrics. Iconosquare also enables you to monitor what is being said about you and your competitors.



A Facebook-only tool that assesses the likeability of your brand compared to the competition. Likealyzer provides a LikeRank, which is a quick and simple metric that comes with suggestions on how to improve your page. It’s one of my favourite quick snapshot tools that shows and overview of how your Facebook page – or a competitor’s – is performing.



Socialinsider provides in depth reports on social media activities, including engagement metrics and use of sponsored posts.



The most expensive tool in this list and designed for big brands, Unmetric can help to identify the leaders in your industry. It provides tools for comparing your own social media metrics to the competition and can highlight the areas where you need to improve.


Summary of the 8 Competitor Monitoring and Analysis Tools

Each of these tools has its own unique features so it is important to consider which one will provide the most useful information for your business. The answer will depend on which sites you need to monitor and the kinds of analysis that you want to perform.


Name Key Features Sites Monitored Pricing
AdSova Tracks paid campaigns on social networks Facebook From $69 a month
Awario Sentiment analysis and share of voice statistics provide useful insights Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit From $29 a month
BuzzSumo Identifies trending keywords, questions and content types and provides tools for content curation Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest Free basic plan, paid plans start at $79 a month
FanPage Karma Straightforward monitoring of key metrics with add-ons available for more complex analysis Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest Free plan available, subscriptions from $450 a month
Iconosquare Enables analysis of Instagram Stories and monitors mentions of your brand Facebook, Instagram From $29 a month
Likealyzer Offers ideas for improvements to boost your likeability Facebook Free
Socialinsider Data-rich reports and 12 months of historical data, also enables analysis of Instagram Stories Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube From $59 a month
Unmetric Provides comparisons of key metrics against your competitors and access to historical data since 2012 Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn From $1000 a month

Digital Tools to Detect Fake Traffic Part 1














Digital Tools to Detect Fake Traffic are now essential with ad fraud costing businesses millions of dollars a day.

Automated tools or bots are very active online. Some of them perform useful tasks such as basic customer service. However, others have more sinister purposes. Some impersonate real people in order to influence opinion. Others steal content and personal data or produce spam. The most damaging kinds of bots for marketing are click bots. These can drive fake traffic through your ads, forcing you to pay for clicks that weren’t made by people.


These tools provide ways to detect and remove fake traffic. Unsurprisingly, whilst many offer an initial free trial, they require a monthly investment, but if $1 in every $3 is fraud, this could be a timely saving if you have a large online advertising budget.


Why Does Fake Traffic Matter?

One of the most serious examples of a click bot was Methbot, which was using automated browsers to “watch” up to 300 million video adverts a day. At the height of its activity in 2015-6, the Methbot network was taking in between $3-5 million each day. The bot was advanced enough to mimic human behaviour with mouse movements and social network logins, making it harder to detect. Advertisers were paying for videos that weren’t actually reaching real people.

It is estimated that as much as $1 in every $3 spent on advertising online is still being lost to fake traffic fraud. The financial impact of fake traffic can therefore be very significant. It also means that you are wasting your time advertising to bots rather than connecting with real customers. Your marketing campaign might seem to be generating lots of interest, but if this includes a lot of fake traffic it isn’t going to help your business.

In addition to fake advertising traffic, marketers also need to be aware of fake followers, fake influencers and automated bots on social media that can artificially boost the popularity of posts or profiles. Fake behaviour on social networks can also affect metrics such as your engagement rate, which can determine where your content is placed in people’s news feeds.

How to Detect Fake Traffic

Fake traffic is sometimes so obvious that you can spot it during routine checks on your analytics. A sudden, unusually large spike in traffic with no apparent cause can be due to a bot. If the page viewing times are low or traffic is being referred to your site from unknown domains, then these can also be signs of bot activity.

You can also weed out fake accounts from your followers. It is often clear which accounts are fake if you take a look at their content and comments. Fake influencers may have lots of fake followers but very little content. Other bots may follow huge numbers of other accounts but have no followers of their own.

However, if you’re running a business, it isn’t always possible to detect bots and fake traffic by yourself. You don’t’ always have the time to look through all your follower’s profiles or the expertise to detect signs of bot activity on your ads. It can be easier and more efficient to use anti-fraud tools that can automatically detect suspicious activity. You can then block those fake profiles or sources of fake traffic to prevent further losses.


Best Detection Tools for Fake Traffic and Profiles

Social Audit Pro

Social Audit Prois the cheapest tool here and only covers Instagram. It can detect fake followers on your Instagram account and provides a clean-up tool to help get rid of them. The service should soon be extended to other social platforms including Facebook and Twitter. Since you can use the tool on any Instagram profile, it is also possible to find out which influencers have real followers. Prices start from $5 for a one time audit of up to 5,000 followers.


Forensiq by Impact

Forensiq is an intelligent system that can identify bots and ad fraud. It can tell you whether activity is legitimate or automated. However, this tool isn’t able to automatically block suspicious activity so you will still need to do this yourself. No other information provided in terms or pricing of functions.



Everflow’s analytic tools can help you to identify suspicious activity, but it also enables you to set up rules to automatically block suspected bots. Everflow monitors various metrics so it can detect common signs of fraud such as click spamming, proxy traffic, and duplicate conversions. You can adjust the settings to block activity at a certain threshold. The support site provides good advice on how to use the tool effectively. Prices start at $200 a month, but there is a 30 day free trial.



Kochava is a tool for advertising analytics that includes some useful fraud detection tools. It can highlight any unusual activity that could be a bot, including signs of click fraud. The free tool includes a global fraud blocklist, but you will need to pay to access more services. Used by Nike, Microsoft, Shell and MacDonalds.



ShieldSquare can detect a range of different bot activities, including data scraping and fake accounts. It can protect your website, mobile app and social media accounts. ShieldSquare can automatically detect and block suspicious activity. You can get a free trial, but you will need to request a quote to find out how much it will cost for your business.


Digital Tools to Detect Fake Traffic


Platforms covered Free trial Pricing
Social Audit Pro Instagram No but starts at $5 for a one time audit of up to 5,000 followers From $5 and then $ per follower
Forensiq No information provided No information provided No information provided
Everflow Looks like it covers most platforms Yes $200 per month
Kochava Looks like it covers most platforms Yes Enterprise version – request quote
ShieldSquare Website, social media platforms Yes Request quote

Facebook Changes: How Attempts to Improve Privacy and Tackle Fake News Could Affect Your Business


The largest Western social media platform Facebook is making changes to address privacy issues and fake news.

Facebook has made a lot of headlines over the last few years and not for the reasons that they would like. The social media giant has been accused of breaching user’s privacy and failing to tackle the spread of potentially harmful fake news. In response to growing concerns among the public and pressure from governments around the world, Facebook has instituted many changes that could affect your business’ relationship with the site.

Why Has Facebook Made These Changes?

Facebook has been at the centre of multiple media storms due to revelations about the misuse of data on the site. Users were shocked to learn how much of their own personal information and that of their Friends on the site was accessible to apps. One particularly large hack also stole the information of 30 million Facebook users.

The content on the site has also been cause for concern, with misinformation being spread for political and monetary reasons. The 2016 presidential election in the US is the most famous example, but elections in the UK, India and elsewhere have also been affected. Misinformation spread on Facebook has also affected the uptake of vaccinations, with potentially deadly results.

Growing media attention, public concern and government oversight has forced Facebook to address these issues.

What Has Changed on Facebook?

The most important changes on Facebook for businesses relate to the use of personal data and the detection of fake news. Facebook is providing more privacy settings and limiting the data that apps can access about users and their Friends. A lot of changes are also being made to the newsfeed to make misinformation and other harmful content less prominent.

Timeline of Facebook Changes

Facebook has come a long way since it was created as a site to connect students at select universities. Many of these changes have expanded what the site can do and made it an essential tool for businesses. However, Facebook has also been forced to make changes to better protect its users’ privacy and to address other serious issues with the way it has been misused.


How Could These Facebook Changes Affect Your Business?

If your business handles any kind of personal data then you should be well aware of the importance of protecting it and the regulations that govern its use. Growing concerns about data use on Facebook means that it is vital for all businesses to be aware of how they are using, storing and sharing data. Being open about these issues with your clients is also essential for building trust.

The features intended to curtail the spread of fake news and misinformation could also have implications for legitimate businesses. For example, the Click-Gap metric aims to differentiate between reputable and suspicious sources by comparing the popularity of a website on Facebook to its popularity across the internet as a whole.

Sites that are much more popular on Facebook will be treated as less authoritative, so their news items will be considered lower quality and given lower priority in the newsfeed.

If you’re a big business that has lots of connections to other sites on the web, then this is unlikely to cause many problems for you. However, if your marketing strategy relies heavily on Facebook, you could be in trouble. Smaller businesses and websites will be at highest risk of being unfairly penalised by this system. It may be necessary to build your profile outside of Facebook and to build more links to other reputable sites in order to convince Facebook’s new algorithms of your integrity.

Instagram scheduling tools


Using Instagram and need help managing all those posts? There are a range of scheduling tools designed for Instagram that we review here.

If your business is already on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter then you may be considering branching out into other areas. More specifically Instagram which is really taking off in popularity and as it’s owned by Facebook since 2012 the chances are it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so is a worthy contender.

Learning a new platform is not always an easy task but Instagram has now changed the way it deals with automated scheduling tools. It now has compatibility with them and this enables users, particularly business users to take advantage of scheduling stories and posts on the platform.

We’ve already written about Instagram tools for engagement as well as how to get 1 million followers on Instagram, so this post focuses on tools to schedule content. If you need a beginner’s guide, this post on Instagram marketing for beginners might help as well as this post on growing followers.

Here is a rundown of just a handful of tools to help your business decide which is best for you:

Instagram scheduling tool # 1 – Planoly

Planoly is a management tool that only works with Instagram and so isn’t necessarily useful for those running on multiple platforms. That said it is the first tool that was approved for Instagram scheduling so a great tool for keeping all Insta content in one place.

The free account enables one Instagram account to have 30 posts a month. For anything more than this or for teams or power users there are various paid options.

Some of the benefits are to be able to:
– automatically publish a photo with a caption to Instagram.
– set up and save different hashtag groups which enables easy copy and paste options.
– access basic analytics
– respond from app or desktop to comments on your own Insta account.
– schedule for Instagram Stories and regular posts.
– create shop feeds from direct links in photos for paid accounts.

There are issues with Planoly too. You must remember to select ‘auto post to Instagram’ or you’re sent a reminder and it’s clunky. The dashboard, shown here, does not show you the actual posts ready to go, just a placeholder that there is something scheduled. Whilst there is an app version, it’s easier to visualise on the desktop.



Alongside the fact that this tool is only for Instagram there is also the fact that users cannot like or comment on other Instagram accounts using the app or desktop which makes it slightly restrictive.

Planoly also provides you with some analytics, but as this image shows, they are fairly basic.




Instagram scheduling tool # 2 – Later

Later is a social media management tool that works across various platforms and may be specifically useful for those using Instagram alongside lengthy captions. It has free options for users with one account on each platform with a range of posting limitations for each. The free account also only supports photos. Later does offer different paid alternatives for teams, power users and those scheduling videos.

Users of Later are able to:

– schedule social media content for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
– drag and drop photos into Instagram to create grids.
– insert line breaks in caption paragraphs, making longer caption content more engaging and easier to read.
– bulk upload and photo labelling
– basic analytics
– add more than one photo to a post for paid accounts.
– create shop feeds from direct links in photos for paid accounts.

Some of the more negative aspects of Later are that the free account offers only basic and limited features. Furthermore it doesn’t offer the ability to save different hashtag groups and users cannot comment on any posts including theirs from the app or desktop.


Instagram scheduling tool # 3 – Buffer

Buffer can be used with Instagram for free for a maximum of 10 scheduled posts. Paid options are available for those wanting more than this with various costs depending on the type of service required.

This tool is particularly known for how easy it is to use and it can be used across different platforms too like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. The tool also enables users to view in depth analytics on each social campaign, including with Instagram.

Buffer uses Buffer Publish, Buffer Reply and Buffer Analyse making it an all-round social media solution. The pricing structure offered by Buffer is simple and there are no hidden costs.

I’ve used Buffer for several years – I pay for what was called the ‘awesome plan’ – and whilst I don’t use for Instagram due to its limited functionality, I find it great for Twitter. It enables me to keep a certain level of content present in the hungry Twitter machine, as well as pulling content from my own blogs to auto post too.


Instagram scheduling tool # 4 – Hootsuite

Whilst it is similar to Buffer in the sense that users can direct publish to Instagram there is also much more to Hootsuite and what it can do. They offer a free trial for 30 days and they offer various packages for paid accounts. Here is a brief overview of the additional features which can help users to:

– Look at competition – Hootsuite enables users to follow others in their niche and thus find insights into their marketing strategy.
– Increase engagement – Using Hootsuite means users can create a branded hashtag and see at a glance who likes or comments.

Hootsuite offers support for a long list of networks and is considered a very stable platform. It also continues to include third party integrations regularly. It is regarded as one of the best tools for those with large teams and social ads can be managed from within Hootsuite.

Evaluating which tool may be most useful for your business may depend on what you want to get out of Instagram and how frequently you wish to use it. Once some decisions have been made on the outcomes it should be easier to evaluate the most appropriate social media tool to use.


What tools do you use and what would you recommend? Do share and I’ll feature in another blog article.


Google’s Latest Changes

More than 40,000 Google searches are performed every second and it’s critical to understand the latest changes and what these mean for your business.

Google has always dominated the business of online searches and it still holds 88% of the Western search market.

Your business needs to be seen on Google in order to be visible online, so it is essential to understand how this search engine indexes, analyses and ranks webpages. Since these algorithms are always being improved, your website needs to stay up to date too.

How Often Is the Google Search Algorithm Updated?

Although we don’t always know exactly what has changed in the Google algorithms, we do know that the frequency of these adjustments has increased significantly over the last few years. A decade ago, it is estimated that there were between 350 and 400 changes made to the algorithm during 2009. Many changes have been made since launch and we’ve reported on these previously.

Last year, Google made approximately 3234 improvements to their algorithm.

Clearly it is impossible for most site owners to keep track of all these changes or to adjust their websites and marketing strategies an average of eight or nine times a day. However, it is vital to be aware of the most significant changes and how they could affect your business, as well as addressing key factors for Google.

Why Do Search Algorithm Changes Matter?

Anyone who uses a computer will be aware of how important it is to appear near the top of the search rankings. When you type a term into a search engine like Google, you’re probably only going to look at the first few results or the first page of results at most.

If you have a website then you need to ensure that your site makes it into these top ranked sites when people enter the relevant keywords. However, this is easier said than done because Google uses complex algorithms to decide which pages people want to see and these algorithms are always being updated to improve the results. You need to keep updating your site and your online marketing strategy in order to adapt to these changes and stay on top.

Timeline of Changes to Google Search

Hundreds of changes have been made to the Google search algorithm since the engine first came online in 1998. Many of these changes have been minor, but other updates have had a dramatic impact on rankings.

The Latest Changes to Google Search

Google makes a lot of changes, some big and some small. Some of the most recent changes that you should be aware of in 2019 are:

  • Mobile-first indexing means that mobile sites will now be prioritised, so you must make sure that your business is accessible to people using smartphones.
  • Growing use of voice searches, with 40% of adults using them at least once a day, is changing the kinds of search terms being used. You need to focus on these longer, more natural phrases rather than just the keywords people might type in.
  • Google is now using “linkless” mentions to rank sites, so if you can get people talking about you online it can help your business, even if they don’t include a direct link. Engaging with people on blogs, social media and elsewhere is increasingly important.
  • Enabling an SSL on your website is becoming essential as Google is starting to prioritise HTTPS sites.

Where your site appears in the rankings when people search for relevant keywords can have a huge impact on your business. It is vital to ensure that your website is visible to the right people and easy for them to find. Understanding how Google ranks pages can enable you to do this, but you also need to focus on creating quality content and running your business. The aim of Google’s algorithm updates is to find the best websites for its users. By creating a high quality site that is easy to navigate, you will be providing the kind of website that they want to prioritise.

Plus Google’s analytics program provides reports to see how your business is performing

Digital Marketing in China Part 1: What Businesses Need to Know About Chinese Social Media

Digital Marketing in China centres around a mobile first approach and the social media platforms often function as an all in one marketing system.


China presents a vast and growing market that is increasingly active online. Any business that is operating in this market needs to be aware of the significant differences between digital marketing in the West and in China. In addition to using different social networking sites, the Chinese market also experiences its own unique trends in social media that businesses need to adjust to.

This is part of a series of articles on China as we’ve previously looked at China’s Biggest Social Media Networks and The Online Shopping Sites that are Bigger than Amazon.


Social Media Usage in China

More than 800 million people in China are active online, making it the largest digital market in the world. Social media is one of the most popular online activities, with the two most popular sites WeChat and Qzone being visited by 87.3% and 64.4% of internet users in China.

Although it is already large, the digital market still has a lot of potential for growth in China. An estimated 57.7% of the population is currently active online, but this is growing quickly. Digital marketing has traditionally been targeted to younger age groups, but the over 60s in China present a growing market of more than 170 million people that are becoming increasingly technologically savvy.

What Makes Chinese Social Media Unique?

The size of the Chinese market is its most striking feature, but it is vital not to assume that this is the only difference or that China forms one undifferentiated market. Digital media in China has many unique features that mean a different approach is required to social media campaigns in the West. Businesses also need to be sensitive to cultural differences that can vary from region to region. Listening to local online trends is a key part of running a successful digital marketing campaign.

One of the key features that brands operating in China need to understand is that mobile browsing is even more important here than in other markets.

Approximately 98% of internet users in China favour mobile devices so it is essential to focus on mobile friendly websites and marketing.

Businesses must also appreciate how dynamic and interactive this mobile-based market can be, with users expecting frequent updates and online events.

Another significant feature is that China has a more diverse range of social media platforms, because it isn’t dominated by a few giant networks like the Western market. Marketers need to be aware of the platforms that their audience is using and to take note as their popularity grows and fades. Social media users in China are often quicker to switch to new networks, so marketing campaigns need to be ready to make that move with them.


Latest Trends in Digital Marketing in China

Digital marketing strategies cannot simply be transferred from Western social media sites like Facebook to the Chinese equivalents. A successful marketing strategy must always adapt to the language and culture of its audience. It must also be tailored to the unique features of each social network. Here are some of the key trends that you need to be aware of in 2019 and beyond.

WeChat Privacy Concerns

WeChat remains the biggest social network in China, but significant numbers of users have been abandoning the site after concerns were raised over privacy issues. If this trend continues, then marketers may need to shift their focus towards other platforms. Brands also need to be aware of how their customer data could be used when they’re operating on this and other networks. This is a common feature in Western social media networks as witnessed by the Cambridge Analytica debate on Facebook.


Fake Advertising Traffic

Researchers have revealed that almost a third of all ad traffic on Chinese sites could be faked, which means that brands are losing money by paying for ads that aren’t working for them. A certain amount of non-human traffic is to be expected with digital marketing, but this rate is high enough to warrant extra measures to avoid it. Fake traffic is an issue in Western social media too, with many automation tools generating instant likes before the individual would even have time to see the post!


Storytelling and Authenticity

The way that social media is being used changes quickly in China. Current trends show a desire for more personal, authentic and story driven content. Douyin (also known as TikTok) is a perfect example of this as its short video format is increasingly being used for episodic content. The shift presents new opportunities for digital marketing, but getting this right will require cultural sensitivity, particularly for brands based outside Asia.


Special Events in China

Chinese consumers remain keen on special sales and events, so it is important for brands to incorporate these into their marketing campaigns. Did you know there are 4 Valentine’s days in China? 14th February and three more. Another example is Queen’s day, one of the most significant online events, with many brands benefitting from marketing campaigns and offers centred around International Women’s Day on March 8th.

Global brands are increasingly taking advantage of these opportunities too, with greater awareness of Chinese culture enabling them to achieve better results in many cases.


Digital media in China remains a unique and ever-changing market that has great potential for any business that is operating in this region. Marketers need to be aware of everything that makes Chinese social media unique, while still preserving their own brand identities.

Instagram Tools for Engagement Marketing


Instagram has become the go-to social media platform and one of the challenges is how it can lead to customer and potential customer engagement. This article looks at tools to manage engagement marketing on Instagram.


Instagram has great potential for marketing, especially for businesses targeting younger markets. More than half of the 1 billion active users log into the site every day, with millennials and the under 25s being particularly active.

This is part of a series of posts on Instagram and engagement marketing.

We’ve looked at initial advice and 3 ways to increase online customer engagement as well as specific market sectors:


And we’ve also looked at Customer engagement via AI  and so this post looks at Instagram as a platform and how it can lead to customer and potential customer engagement.


What is Engagement and Why Does It Matter?

Success on social media is about much more than posting content and accumulating followers. It is about building relationships and actively engaging with people by getting them to interact with your posts. Likes, comments and clicks that bring people to your website or lead to sales are what really matters. The time and money you spend on maintaining your social media accounts isn’t worth much if no one is reading or if this interest is not being converted into sales. A successful social media strategy will connect with your target audience so that they amplify your voice by sharing posts and give you a real return for your efforts.

Challenges are that Instagram is considering removing the likes function – this can be automated which means it has less value. Owned by Facebook, Instagram is keen to offer value for corporations using it as a marketing tool.

Boosting Engagement on Instagram

Instagram has the highest interaction rate among social networks, at 2.2%, and 80% of users are following at least one business. However, that doesn’t mean that it is easy to connect with people on Instagram. You need to create the right kind of content for your brand and to ensure that it encourages active engagement that will turn into sales.

Creating high quality content and advertising your handle to gain followers is key. You also need to be aware of how to use tags, stories and other tactics to catch the attention of your target audience. Businesses on Instagram also have a selection of effective tools that can be used to boost engagement.

Comparing Instagram Tools for Engagement Marketing

If you’re a business looking to make the most Instagram then there are lots of different tools available to help. Here are some of the top engagement marketing tools that you might want to use.

Instagram Tool for Engagement Marketing #1 – Kicksta

Kicksta helps you to build relationships with your target audience on Instagram. You suggest a few target accounts that appeal to your market and Kicksta will start engaging with their followers. It will target users who might be interested in your business, liking their posts to draw their attention. Engaging with other users is one of the most effective strategies for getting them to interact with you in return and potentially to become a follower. Kicksta gets better at identifying the right users to engage with as it learns from the responses it generates. It can be an effective tool for generating real followers as it will filter out any suspect accounts. The service starts from $49 a month and it is particularly useful when starting out as it can build up your audience.

Instagram Tool for Engagement Marketing #2 – Hootsuite

Hootsuite includes a selection of different tools for managing your Instagram account. You can use it to publish and schedule your posts, to track your competition on the site, or to engage with your audience. One handy tool for engagement is the search stream, which you can use to find out who is engaging with your own hashtags or which accounts are most influential in your field. Analysing what people are talking about on Instagram can enable you to be part of the right conversations. You can use Hootsuite to manage multiple Instagram and social media accounts, with prices starting at £25 a month for up to 10 social media profiles.

Instagram Tool for Engagement Marketing #3 – Later

Later provides one of the most effective and popular scheduling tools for Instagram. It also makes it easier to manage your comments and to repost user-generated content. The tools for businesses are particularly useful as they can help you to turn Instagram posts into sales and to monitor these interactions. Small businesses can use the Free Forever plan for up to 30 photo posts a month. Paid options start at $9 a month, depending on how many posts you want to make and the number of social profiles you’re managing.

Instagram Tool for Engagement Marketing #4 – Iconosquare

Iconosquare can assist with a wide range of engagement marketing approaches, from interacting with other users’ posts to holding contests via Instagram. One feature that is particularly useful is that it enables cross-posting on other platforms such as Facebook, which can make managing your profiles much more efficient. The analytics tools can also be very useful, especially as they include specially designed tools to enable you to monitor the impact of your Instagram Stories. Plans start at €29 a month.

Instagram Tool for Engagement Marketing #5 – Curalate Like2Buy

Like2Buy can change the way people interact with your Instagram posts. It enables you to offer people the chance to buy when they click the like button, so it is ideal if you’re often posting pictures of your products. Making it easier for people to purchase can increase sales and enhance the customer experience. Like2Buy is designed for larger businesses, but a similar tool called Soldsie can provide similar services for smaller businesses. Soldsie is free for the first 49 clicks then costs from $5 a month.

Email Campaign Programs: Which Platform is Best for Your Business?

Learn more about email campaign programs and discover which platform is best for your business.

Email remains one of the key strands of digital marketing, so it is essential to have a programme that enables you to reach out to people easily and efficiently. Email can be the first contact you make with prospective new customers or the means through which you maintain your relationship with your existing customers.

This blog post is part of a series on email marketing.


Choosing an Email Campaign Program

Email marketing campaigns work best when they are timely, personalised and targeted to specific groups of recipients. While you can manage a small marketing campaign with just a spreadsheet and a list of email addresses, there is a lot more you can do when you have the right tools.


Email campaign programs can help you to manage your contact lists and to connect with people in a more effective manner. You can create email campaigns that take individual customer’s preferences and purchasing histories into account. You can make your customers feel valued and treated as individuals.


The best email campaign platforms will make it easier to manage customer data and to coordinate your marketing strategy across different media. The program should help you to create effective email templates and to ensure they are sent to the right contacts at the right times. Some programs also enable you to set up automated responses for different scenarios.

Should You Use Mailchimp?

Mailchimp is probably the best-known email campaign program so it is often the first option that businesses will consider. If you’re new to email marketing then it can be a good choice as it is relatively straightforward to use.

You can use this platform to:

  • Create customised emails for newsletters or marketing campaigns
  • Segment your contact list by factors such as location to enable targeted email marketing
  • Set up automated messages based on specific events, such as a customer failing to complete a purchase or showing interest in specific items
  • Coordinate marketing campaigns across email, online ads and social media

However, there are limits to what you can do with Mailchimp so it may not be flexible enough for more advanced users. Recent changes have also caused some businesses to switch to other platforms. Mailchimp has begun moving away from its previous focus on email marketing, with new features being introduced without much communication or support for users. Mailchimp is likely to become more expensive for many businesses and it won’t be the same simple email marketing service as before.

Mailchimp currently provides a free plan for small businesses with up to 2000 contacts. The paid plans from $9.99 to $299.00 a month offer additional features and support larger contact lists.

Alternatives to Mailchimp: Comparing Email Marketing Programs

If Mailchimp doesn’t seem like the right fit for your business or it isn’t working for you anymore, or if you have increased your mailings, then it is worth considering the following alternatives.

Email Campaign Program – Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor provides a very visual, intuitive interface that makes it very easy to work with. You can create segmented contact lists for targeted marketing, track the interactions with your customers, and create automated email workflows for all kinds of scenarios. Analysis tools are also provided to monitor the effects of your email campaigns. If you want a straightforward email platform and you enjoy working with the largely drag and drop based interface then this can be a good choice for your business. Campaign Monitor starts at £9 a month for up to 2500 emails, with unlimited emails from £29 a month.

Email Campaign Program – iContact

The iContact platform is ideal for small and medium sized businesses. It provides an easy to use interface that includes useful tools for segmenting customer lists, split testing and tracking the performance of your email campaigns. The range of email templates is also particularly good but may not be sufficient for larger businesses. The support services are excellent but are of limited use to international users as the phone lines are based in US time zones. Pricing starts at $14 a month for up to 500 email subscriptions so it can be more expensive than Campaign Monitor.

Email Campaign Program – SendinBlue

SendinBlue gives you the greatest control, so it can be a good choice if you want to do more than is possible with the other platforms. You can combine email and SMS campaigns, send tailored messages based on many different events, and access detailed analytics on how your emails are being read. However, it takes more technological knowledge to make the most of the extra features on this platform so it might not be the right choice if you just need a simple tool. The pricing is based on the number of emails you send. You can send 3 campaigns a month to up to 2000 contacts for free. Paid plans range from £15 to £102 a month.

Picking the right platform will enable you to easily manage a cost-effective email marketing campaign that produces a real return for your business. It is important to compare the options and consider the needs to your business so that you can make the most of email marketing.


When you have selected your email marketing program, you might also be interested in A/B testing your emails to see which is more successful.

Influencer marketing campaign fails

Influencer marketing is now a common concept for many companies. Getting admired people to use your products and let people know via their social media channels is now a standard issue marketing tactic. The more influential the person the greater the chance of your product or service doing well in terms of sales and being seen organically rather than via paid advertising. Influencer marketing has grown to such an extent that Amazon has launched its own influencer programme.


In the Western world, influencers are seen as opinion leaders who are not formal experts, but have authority with the target audience and are often well-known people, celebrities, pop, sports or media stars


From a customer’s perspective influencer marketing can be as good as or better than a word of mouth recommendation, so it is easy to see why it has become such a powerful tool for businesses. This is because people are ignoring traditional company adverts and seeking greater authenticity from people they view as trusted or more authentic.

However, when things go wrong with influencer marketing they tend to go spectacularly wrong. Therefore, it is important to have a back-up plan and various contingencies in place to handle any fallout from such a PR disaster.

Let’s explore some influencer campaign fails:


Influencer campaign fail #1 – Phillip Morris

One example is that of Phillip Morris International who had to cancel a global social media campaign when it was revealed that they were using young influencers to promote their vaporiser range.

The company had previously been trying to demonstrate that they are encouraging people to stop smoking and present vaping as a safer alternative. However, they are now having to apologise for sending out the wrong message by using an under 25 year old to promote their IQOS vaporiser.

Critics of vaping believe that it is just as problematic as smoking cigarettes and see that vaping activity is very much a gateway to other things for young people. As such this latest PR scandal does not help the company at all in terms of changing the perception that they aren’t trying to glamorise vaping.

The company released a statement “We have taken the decision to suspend all of our product-related digital influencer actions globally. Whilst the influencer in question is a legal age adult smoker, she is under 25 and our guidance called for influencers to be 25+ years of age. This was a clear breach of that guidance.”

Why did this influencer campaign fail?

Perhaps this campaign failed because it is a delicate and controversial area to start – it’s connected to smoking which is not safe. However, Phillip Morris International isn’t the first tobacco company to struggle finding an appropriate path through the online marketplace. Juul e-cigarettes also were criticised back in 2015 for using images of attractive young people on YouTube marketing and social media. The campaign was particularly surrounding their product launch and used the phrase “Share a #Juulmoment.” This prompted many young people to not only use the product but share images of their own usage along with their friends and even of them at school.

Following a backlash of this approach the company have since adopted a policy of only using social media influencers over the age of 35.

For Phillip Morris International this recent furore has done little to help prove the company is demonstrating a duty of care to young people or to those trying to quit smoking. In reality it has been viewed in poor taste and has been damaging from all angles.

Influencer campaign fail #2 – Snickers

Snickers found out the hard way in 2012 when they chose the controversial Katie Price to use as part of their “You’re not you, when you’re hungry” global campaign. Price is known for dividing opinion and primarily famous for her involvement in fashion and entertainment. When a series of tweets appeared of a political nature from her account it led people to believe she had hacked when in fact it was part of the aforementioned Snickers campaign.

There was a public backlash to the posting and it even prompted the first ever influencer marketing investigation by the Advertising Standards Agency.

Why did this influencer campaign fail?

The choice of influencer was probably ill advised when attached to a national brand.


Influencer campaign fail #3 – PepsiCo Cola

When Pepsi partnered with Kendall Jenner in 2017 on a YouTube advert they found themselves having to pull the ad after a negative response from the public. According to Pepsi they were trying “project a global message of unity, peace and understanding.” In reality the company were accused of trying to trivialise issues of social justice – in particular demonstrations by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Why did this influencer campaign fail?

The company were seen to be insensitive to serious ongoing issues and the article was pulled and PepsiCo issued an apology.

How to mitigate failure with influencer marketing campaigns

Choice of influencer is key

When things go wrong on social media for businesses it could prove to be catastrophic, which is why platform and influencer selection is so important in the planning stages of any successful influencer marketing campaign.


Planning Social Media Content is Even More Important

Before going live with any posts or activity having a failsafe campaign should be the primary goal alongside campaign contingencies.


Research the objectives and target market

With the benefit of hindsight, it is perhaps easy to see why things went so wrong for these companies and they act as a cautionary tale to others to do their research well. Social media in general gives exposure to companies like never before which is why when using influencers especially, proper research needs to happen into the target market, the objectives of the campaign and the alignment of appropriate influencers.



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