Social Media Emerges as Top Marketing Channel for International B2B MNCs in China

B2B marketers seek to adopt social media marketing platforms to improve efficiencies as they increase investments in social media marketing
KAWO, the leading social media management platform in China, has launched its 2024 B2B Social Media Marketing Research Report. The report, based on a survey of 50 international business-to-business (B2B) multinational corporations (MNCs) in China across 20 different industries, delves into the use of social media by international B2B MNCs in China and its role in the B2B marketing landscape.
Social media stood out as the top marketing channel amongst respondents, with most doubling down and planning to invest more in their social media efforts. The report found that 94% of international B2B MNCs in China identified social media as one of their major marketing channels, with 70% planning to increase their social media marketing budget in 2024. In comparison, offline events (86%) and paid search (66%) were identified as one of their major marketing channels; but only 38% planned to increase their marketing budget for paid search – the next top option, while 44% indicated plans to reduce budget on display ads.
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When utilizing social media for B2B marketing, 42% indicated that improving brand awareness was their primary objective and 34% chose generating leads. 88% indicated impressions, views and reads as one of the social media metrics they use, followed by the leads it generates (80%). Notably, only 18% would utilize sales revenue as a metric for social media activities. Even as many hope to convert leads into sales through social media marketing, the lack of a suitable revenue contribution model prevents them from mapping out the customer journey and confidently attributing sales towards social media.
“As more international B2B MNCs look to enter or expand their business in China’s local market, the country’s unique social media landscape can be challenging to navigate,” said Alex Li, Chief Executive Officer, KAWO. “Our latest report has shown that many marketers need help and resources to ensure their social media efforts align with business goals and objectives. Social media management platforms, like KAWO, can help marketers improve efficiencies, streamline collaboration with their international counterparts, and allow them to make data-driven decisions seamlessly.”
Amongst all social media platforms in China, WeChat stood out at the top, far ahead of its competitors. 100% of the businesses surveyed had WeChat Official Accounts, 76% were on WeChat channels, and 80% believed that WeChat would be the best platform to achieve their business goals and objectives in the next three years. While trailing behind, popular consumer platforms have also been adopted by B2B companies, with 40% indicating that they were on Douyin, but only 4% believed that it would be the best platform for them in the next three years.
“With the largest user base in China, it is no surprise that WeChat is the most popular social media platform for B2B marketing. It has evolved into a pivotal marketing platform in China not just for B2C but also for B2B businesses that have integrated it into their daily business operations. WeChat’s functionality, such as its mini-programs, have been found useful by B2B marketers to facilitate professional interactions for their branding and promotional needs – from managing sales funnels for lead acquisitions, providing online consultation services, event management and more,” explained Li.
In China’s unique social media landscape, with its multitude of social media platforms that differ from other international markets, a considerable amount of time was found to be spent on reporting social media data to their headquarters based outside of China. 90% of respondents said they spend 1-3 hours each week on reporting and syncing with their overseas-based colleagues. To aid with this laborious task, 88% agreed that a bilingual social media management platform would help them collaborate better with their overseas colleagues.
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Recognizing that quality content is the foundation for effective social media marketing, B2B marketers have identified producing engaging content (66%) and developing content that generates leads (66%) as their top challenges in 2024. Additionally, seeking to tap into the rise of social search in China, 60% identified connecting with their target market as a challenge.
When performing social media analytics, the top challenges were the lack of time (27%) and the lack of understanding (26%). Over 90% surveyed indicated they would like to adopt a tool to assist with social media marketing. This includes help with planning, scheduling, execution, approval processes, publishing, and data integration and analysis.
The majority viewed Artificial Intelligence (AI) positively, with 78% indicating that they would use AI for their B2B activities on social media, with more than 50% already using it to edit pictures, texts and videos, and content ideation. In the future, 70% would like AI to help with content ideation – one of the top challenges identified in the report; and 58% would like AI to help produce reports, analyze data and provide insights.
KAWO’s 2024 B2B Social Media Marketing Research Report seeks to provide B2B marketing professionals with insights and guidance on effective social media marketing strategies in China.
Methodology
KAWO’s 2024 B2B Social Media Marketing Research Report was conducted to understand the use of social media by international B2B MNCs in China. The report is based on a quantitative survey administered to 50 social media and marketing professionals, managers and above, from international B2B MNCs in China across 20 industries, including chemicals, machinery, automation, medicine, automobiles, packaging, law, finance and more. Twenty in-depth qualitative interviews were also conducted, alongside analysis of 30 relevant case studies, to generate relevant insights and best practices for social media B2B marketing in China.
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