Best engagement practices on Chinese social media platform RED

23 Jun 2022
Astrid Wu

Since social media platforms such as YouTube and Instagram were born in the 2010s, social media marketing has gone through its first few decades and is heading for a booming future. Anyone can participate in social media marketing, but only those with strong engagement will succeed. Strong social media engagement does not only mean that you are popular and you have successfully developed meaningful connections with current and future customers, it also means increasing potential business benefits.


How can you engage your audience effectively? It is important to customise engagement strategies based on user characteristics and behavioural preferences to reach core audiences and influence.

With the most netizens (1.02 billion in 2022, from Statista), China is one of the most significant social media markets in the world. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the aggregate of China’s ‘influence economy’ from 2018 to 2020 doubled each year, mainly contributed by Weibo, WeChat, Douyin, Bilibili and RED.


RED: A channel to gain influence in China that cannot be ignored


RED, also known as Xiaohongshu or Little Red Book, is a social media and e-commerce platform founded in 2013. When it was established, RED was seen as a substitute for Instagram in China, but it has grown to be one of China’s foremost fashion and luxury shopping platforms with tremendous commercial value.

According to Qiangua Data, as of March 2022, there are over 200 million monthly active users, with a total of over 43 million sharers. Among this impressive user group, over 70% are Millennials and Gen-Zers, the main target audience in social media marketing in this sector. Most of them live in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities which are economically-developed regions in China. Most importantly, more than three-quarters of users are female, and contribute considerably to fashion and beauty businesses. It is also seen as a popular platform for trendsetters across industry segments.

This rapidly growing platform, a potential front-runner in China’s ‘influence marketing’ landscape, represents a great opportunity for global and local brands to increase their exposure and brand awareness in China.


How can brands engage their audience and win traffic on RED?


It is important to customise engagement strategies for different social media channels to reach your core audience and obtain ‘influence’.

Below, you will find our tips to increase engagement on RED. We have used cultural and artistic ‘influencers’ as an example to illustrate our meaning based on Sinclair’s experience in managing brand social media and content strategy for Sotheby’s RED account. Sinclair helped Sotheby’s create their official RED account and designed their communication strategy. Our successful engagement with audiences on RED has attracted loyal followers for Sotheby’s and boosted traffic for their spring auctions.


Focus on storytelling

Most people go to RED for fun and inspiration—rarely for lessons. Therefore, we recommend you share cultural and artistic knowledge in a storytelling tone, instead of sharing academic research or broadcasting news. Don’t scare your audience off. As a business, there’s no need to worry about sounding unprofessional, as good storytelling can be informative and entertaining at the same time.


Start with an interesting ‘trigger’

As an example, when introducing a master painting, description of dimensions of the work, materials used to create the piece, and perspective skills may be a bit dull. Try to start from a social background, perhaps sharing some history or even some interesting facts about the artist. This type of information can help the audience know the context and inspiration behind the work, arousing their interest to continue reading and giving the post a ‘like’.


Intersperse ‘hooks’ within the story

Setting up questions in the story can keep the readers’ attention and also initiate comments. Ask questions like, ‘Why did Picasso use a triangle to depict a woman’s head?’ These questions offer a hook, keeping people thinking and wondering about the answer. There is a greater chance they will continue reading and leave their own opinions in the comment section.

In Sotheby’s Spring Sales Series, when introducing Picasso’s museum-quality portrait “Dora Maar” to the audience, we started with the question ‘Who is Dora Maar’ and shared the story of her and Picasso to draw the audience’s interest. Through telling stories of this ‘legendary lady’, people got to know the background of the painting and understand the uniqueness and value of the portrait.


Keep stories reader-friendly

Long text can make the audience tired and decrease reading completion rate, ultimately lowering engagement. Based on our experience, the optimal length of a story should be around 500 words (divided into three paragraphs). This ensures reading time won’t exceed two minutes.

Additionally, don’t make your post text-only. Entertaining your audience with visually-stunning content makes them more likely to share it. Stories can also be told in video format or with themed images.


Example posts from Sotheby's RED account, generated by Sinclair
Example posts from Sotheby’s RED account, generated by Sinclair.


Publish at the right time and with proper skills

Since most users of RED are urban white-collars, it is best to post during their commute and lunch hour break (also before bedtime).  Publishing during their spare time instead of working time will keep readers from missing your content. If you want to seize as many readers as you can, don’t forget to stay topical and conversational.

For cultural and artistic posts, combining content with trending topics from other categories can attract more readers. For example, when introducing Claude Monet’s masterpiece “Le Grand Canal et Santa Maria della Salute”, a painting created during his trip to Venice, combining content with travel topics can attract travel-interest followers. Naming the post with a title of ‘Monet’s travel vlog’ and with hashtags such as #travelvlog, #travel, #landscape, #cure will provide people with inspiration for their travel, hopefully leading to likes and shares, which overall successfully increases traffic and engagement.


We hope these tips are useful for brands looking to increase their exposure and authentic engagement in the China market. If you’re interested in discussing your digital marketing and social media marketing needs with Sinclair, please feel free to reach out to us here.

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