As an award-winning bilingual marketing agency, it’s safe to assume we are also experts in Chinese language. We’re also social media experts, so put them together and what have you got? A perfect lesson on some of the most popular Chinese social media buzzwords, of course!
But why is this relevant to marketing?
Knowing these trending terms can help your content better resonate with Chinese audiences online and make your campaign more engaging.
Below are 10 popular Mandarin online buzzwords to help you more easily reach this audience, or simply to satisfy your curiosity about Chinese culture!
1. 凡尔赛 (Fán’ěrsài)
The direct translation of Fán’ěrsài is Versailles, but it isn’t used to describe the place in France in this context. It refers to people who are trying to show off their luxurious lifestyle or achievements by inadvertently talking about it — in English, usually referred to as ‘humble bragging’. The context could be: “For my birthday, my husband bought me a Prada purse but I don’t like green purses. What should I do?”
2. 打工人 (Dǎgōng rén)
This phrase refers to office workers with a fast-paced job in big cities who often have a hard life with long working hours and low pay. It’s often used in a sarcastic or humorous context. These people have no choice but to live such a life since they desire a better future. Today this term is not limited to working people with a modest wage, but to anyone who is talking about their busy work schedule.
3. 干饭人 (Gànfàn rén)
This term is used to describe anyone who is proactive in having meals on time and able to eat a large quantity of food. It is a humorous way to describe busy office workers with positive attitudes who don’t have time to sit around for a long meal!
4. 内卷 (Nèi juǎn)
This refers to excessive and unnecessary competition in a field, causing overwhelming self-doubt. For example, young people often feel worried upon witnessing countless peers pursuing higher education in order to secure a lucrative career, compelling them to chase the same goal. But in reality, and while it may help, higher education does not necessarily guarantee a better paying job.
5. 柠檬精 (Níngméng jīng)
Níngméng means lemon, and lemons are sour. This term refers to people who are easily jealous of others’ lifestyles, physical appearances, or relationships. As culture evolves, the negative connotation carries less weight resulting in a more lighthearted and playful meaning.
6. 我不要你觉得，我要我觉得 (Wǒ bùyào nǐ juédé, wǒ yào wǒ juédé)
Direct translation: “I don’t care how you feel, I want you to follow how I feel”. This popular sentence originated from a Chinese reality show where a group of celebrities had to operate a restaurant by themselves. The person who ended up as the restaurant manager was very domineering and forced the rest to follow his orders. One episode, this phrase came out of his mouth and made the audience laugh so much that it went viral, and has become a well-known quip. People use this term to joke about anyone who is bossy and overbearing.
7. 佛系 (Fó xì)
Fó means Buddhism and Fó xì refers to having a calm attitude towards a difficult or disappointing situation. Don’t go through life worrying so much, and don’t pursue the change for now. One could see it as a philosophy to accept the reality of a temporarily problematic circumstance and be ready for the next opportunity which is inevitably just around the corner.
8. 懂王 (Dǒng wáng)
The popular way to describe former US president Donald Trump online in China. It literally means “the king of knowing everything”, which fits with his outspoken demeanor, frequently proclaiming he knows best.
9. 996 (Jiǔjiǔliù)
996 is used to describe the busy working schedule for many people in first tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai. It essentially means the reality of going to work at 9am, getting off at 9pm, plus overtime work on Saturday — the 6th day of the workweek. Sounds crazy, huh?
10. 饭圈 (fàn quān)
The direct translation is “Fans circle”, which refers to the follower community for certain idols/artists. These fans are typically younger generations who spend a ton of time and money supporting their favorite idols, contributing to the views of their music videos, participating in official fan organizations, etc.
Whether you’re Chinese, Canadian, or from somewhere else in the world, each culture has its own unique slang, nuances, and phrases that shift in and out of popularity.
Using these terms in your marketing materials will help you better connect with Chinese audiences and ultimately lead to better campaign results. Contact us today to learn how our Chinese content experts can generate culturally relevant Chinese campaigns to help you reach a new market.