China’s Xiaomi became the world's third-largest smartphone maker by market share for the first time in the third quarter of this year; it trails only Samsung and Apple and has surpassed its Chinese competitor Lenovo. As a somewhat new brand founded in 2010, Xiaomi’s achievement is impressive. Among the many factors contributing to Xiaomi's rising success, social marketing is, without doubt, a prominent one.

Xiaomi’s recipe for success contains three social ingredients:

  • Adopt various social platforms and tactics to engage with fans. Xiaomi has successfully integrated social into its marketing RaDaR and turned 11 million social media followers into super-loyal “Mi Fans.” It uses Weibo to attract new users (reach); its branded online community to provide detailed product and service information (depth) and to generate brand loyalty (relationship); and WeChat for customer service (relationship).
  • Extend the social frenzy offline. Xiaomi is a digital disruptor, but its social marketing success isn’t limited to the online world. Xiaomi values the power of its fans on social media and extends it offline. It named its annual new product launch event after its fans – the Mi Fan Festival. Xiaomi also holds gatherings for its fans in more than 100 cities in China and organizes events, such as the MiBand Run, to enhance the relationship between its fans and the brand.
  • Leverage social commerce for marketing. Xiaomi is a pioneer in experimenting with social commerce. Back in 2012, Xiaomi tested the waters for the first time and sold 50,000 smartphones in 5 minutes on Weibo; a year later, it sold 150,000 smartphones in 10 minutes on WeChat. These two cases may not form a sustainable social commerce business model for Xiaomi, but they were certainly outstanding marketing campaigns.

As well as using these three ingredients, Xiaomi keeps experimenting with other social tactics, including using key opinion leaders and creating social games. In addition, Xiaomi is ambitiously expanding its internal market and duplicating its social marketing success beyond China. Stay tuned for more marketing success stories from Xiaomi.