Our clients are asking us more questions than ever about marketing in China. So we’re responding – by increasing our presence in the market, by launching our first marketing & strategy event in China, and by publishing more research on the country. In fact, today my researcher Jenny Wise and I published two new reports on marketing in China: The Key To Interactive Marketing In China and Social Media Marketing In China. Below are Jenny’s thoughts on social media in China:

If you’re marketing in China, social media offers an enormous opportunity: Chinese online adults are the most socially active among any of the countries we survey worldwide, and a whopping 97% of metropolitan Chinese online adults use social tools. And this isn’t only driven by the younger generations — we find that on average Chinese Internet users ages 55 to 64 are more active in  most social behaviors than US Internet users ages 25 to 34.

But a Chinese social media strategy is not that simple to implement, especially for Westerners accustomed to marketing on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – none of which operate in this market. So before you take the leap into social media in China, be sure that you:

Learn the Chinese social landscape. China may not have some of the sites Western marketers have grown to love, but you’ll find the local options look pretty familiar. For example, Sina Weibo is a leading microblog that, much like Twitter, features 140-character limits, hastags, and retweets. Renren and Kaixin001 are general social networks like Facebook that contain profile pages and status updates. And Youku and Tudou, the dominant video sites in China, house a combination of peer and professional content that resembles a cross of YouTube and Hulu.

Use a solid strategic approach. While the social media landscape looks a different, marketers should still embrace the good old-fashioned POST approach to get their bearing in social media. Study the people you’re trying to reach, define your marketing objective, develop a social strategy, and then pick the right technology or social site to make it happen.

Budget for the higher cost of social media in China. You already know that social media is never completely free – but that’s especially true in China. Be prepared to pay a monthly charge to maintain a profile page, or pay “key opinion leaders” to post sponsored tweets on your behalf. No one wants to pay for things they get for free in other markets – but it’s simply the cost of social media marketing in China.

If you’re a Forrester client, check out more details about how Chinese Internet users are using social media, the sites you should consider, and how to get started in our report Social Media Marketing in China. In addition, we’d love to hear about your experiences with social media marketing in China, so feel free to share any success stories, warnings, or tips in the comments below.