Greetings from Beijing! Allow me to introduce myself — my name is Xiaofeng Wang, and I’m a new analyst at Forrester, having just joined in November 2012. My coverage focuses on digital marketing, and, specifically, how marketers should harness the power of social media in China.

After working at Sina Weibo (a major Chinese social media platform) for around three years, I joined Forrester with a lot on my mind regarding social media in China. A highly fragmented platform landscape, the lightning-speed evolution of technology, and marketers’ struggle to identify the right platform to engage audiences effectively all weighed heavily as I set out to write my first report. I’m pleased to announce the outcome of my analysis, entitled “Winning Social Media Marketing In China,” is now live on our website.

In the report, we divide the development of Chinese social media into three different dynasties: the Kaixin001/Renren dynasty, the Weibo dynasty, and the WeChat dynasty. Each social dynasty is defined by different features, which are the key reasons behind their adoption. For example, anonymity and casual connections contributed to the initial boom of Weibo, while WeChat is increasingly attracting privacy-conscious users. By tracing the rise and fall of a handful of social giants, the report helps marketers understand what features matter the most to Chinese consumers and the marketers who want to target and engage them.

But knowing the key features of these social giants alone is not enough for marketers to invest effectively. We outlined the two types of social sites that are most worth interactive marketers’ attention: major social platforms that offer broad functionality and attract hundreds of millions of users, and niche social sites focusing on a single functionality and attracting smaller more specific audiences. We then analyzed the various functions of 14 major and niche social platforms, including those that provide networking, content sharing, blogging, chatting, review and check-in capabilities, along with access point employed by consumers (PC versus mobile). Based on their different strengths in reaching specific target audiences, marketers should select different social platforms to match their target audience, brand personality, and strategy.

In addition, we analyzed these key social sites from the perspective of helping marketers accomplish five key marketing objectives: listening, talking, energizing, supporting, and embracing. We provide advice on which of these myriad platforms are best suited for each respective marketing objective. For example, marketers should use Weibo, Youku, and Tudou for talking to auidences, while Renren and Jiepang are more appropriate for objectives focused on energizing your customer base. We also include some examples of top marketers’ successful social marketing efforts in China.

I hope you enjoy the report. Please comment here with any thoughts or questions. I’m now working on my next report on how marketers can effectively harness Chinese video platforms. Please let me know if you are interested in participating in this research.