Many foreign companies see social media as a low cost marketing space for entering the vast Chinese market. This is fraught with complexity, requiring an understanding of social media behaviour, social media marketing, and the Chinese context. In this exploratory pilot study, we develop the notion of ‘franding’ (online friending of brands) as a unifying metaphor, and suggest that effective social media brand strategies resemble effective online friend behaviours. Based on this we develop some propositions and evaluate them qualitatively in interviews with young Chinese consumers. Our study suggests that conceptualizing brand social media relationships as a type of online friendship can assist in harmonizing disparate literature and provide useful insights for organizations operating in this complex area.