An article in China International Business looks at the importance of social networking sites, including BBS forums, for companies looking to advertise to the Internet generation:
In China especially, a company’s digital media strategy now must be about more than just building a website or buying banner ads on the most popular portals. China has a lively blogging and social media environment, and companies and brands that ignore what’s being said about them online do so at their own peril. The enormous popularity of social media platforms has even led to the creation of a new marketing practice – Internet word-of-mouth (IWOM).
“In general BBS and blogs are important because of the massive volume of bloggers in China,” says Chris Reitermann, president of OgilvyOne China, Ogilvy & Mather Group’s digital and one-to-one marketing network.
In fact, over 182 million Chinese have blogs, according to a 2009 report by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), and over 102 million regularly comment on forums or BBS – online bulletin boards where users post their ideas about life, politics and, of course, products. According to the CNNIC report, 56.1% of China’s 384 million Internet users say they often express their opinions online. While a television commercial can be carefully calibrated and designed, then placed at a particular time slot where a product’s desired demographic is in abundance, the new social media is not as easily managed.