Baidu is a community of communities
It’s a fact, Baidu Search Engine is one of the most used Search Engines in the World, especially in China. With a whopping 55% market share, it monopolizes the local market. Early on in the life of Baidu, this Chinese giant chose to increase its range of services to control its core market. Today we’ll look at how Baidu Search Engine works with its two main communities, Baidu Tieba and Baidu Zhidao.
Baidu Zhidao is very similar to a giant bulletin board system where a user can create their own small community about a topic they like.
Two weeks ago I went to see the movie “Hollywood Adventure” staring the Chinese actress Zhao Wei (赵薇) (Vicky Zhao in the US, I believe). I like the actress and decided that I wanted to know more about her and her career. She’s very famous in China, so finding information about her should be easy and will show you how things work in the land of “Baidu Social Media.”
Where to go first? Baidu Zhidao! (It’s very similar to Yahoo Q&A.)
I decide to skip the whole Baidu Search Engine … it’s a bit too complicated and go directly to Baidu Zhidao. This is China’s most popular Question and Answer site.
By simply typing her name I get a multitude of results, all giving me more or less general information about the actress.
The top result comes from Baidu Baike百度百科, the Chinese equivalent of Wikipedia with about 12 million articles (Baidu Baike).
Marketing point: It’s very important for a company or artist to show up in the first result on Baidu Zhidao. In China, Baidu Baike has similar characteristics to its western counterpart, Wikipedia. If you are on Baidu Baike, it means that you must be:
Below the Baidu search results you’ll find the user generated content that we’re interested in for this example.
赵薇的个人介绍 means biography. A presentation showing facts and trivia about the actress.
After this, you have some questions about the actress. Likes and answers show you how relevant or important content can be according to users.
The general presentation of Zhao Wei received fewer likes than the question 赵薇老公是谁? (Who is her husband?)
Marketing point: The Chinese like to ask questions, so Zhidao Baidu is the source of a lot of user-generated content. In a nutshell, users (or companies wanting to appear like users for community management purposes) can post questions and have them viewable for a set period within which they can ask questions about a topic. The idea here is to trigger discussions and to post content related to your brand. As beautifully illustrated by French brand, Louis Vuitton.
Let’s dive into China’s biggest online community: Baidu Tieba (https://tieba.baidu.com/)
So I found some answers on Baidu Zhidao, now I want to reach out to the fans of the actress. They want to hear about the latest news about the star. Sure, I could choose to follow her Weibo account (and its 72 million fans (But how many of the fans are Zombies?) Still, her Tieba account isn’t bad either.
She has 586,113 followers in this Tieba and almost 16 million posts about her and her latest news.
Marketing point: Baidu Tieba is a good channel to target a very specific community oriented around a well-defined theme. As such it’s easier to assess a community’s reaction to changes or messages you wish to post.
As you can see on this Tieba, once you have enough popularity, visuals can be used to increase its attractiveness. So great, I finally got the chance to learn more about my favorite actress and get involved in a community that shares my own love for what this Chinese actress does.
Baidu is more than a simple Search Engine (see more in this article I wrote “Baidu SEO”). It’s also a social platform. The use of social media platforms like forums that should not be underestimated when you start a social media campaign. Besides, with Baidu Search Engine taking heavy hits from the everywhere after its paid advertisement problems, its bulletin board system is still unscathed and very useful in the social media arena.
Have you used Baidu in your Chinese social media marketing? What do you think of it? Would you suggest that companies thinking of marketing in China use Baidu? What other social networks or marketing platforms should they use? Thanks for sharing!