Companies are eager to enter the Chinese social media space. Every global social media strategist and industry expert will tell you. As Chinese social media sites have evolved, global marketers have, too. Your community and customers are already discussing your brand, competitors, and industry – so, finding these conversations and tapping in is your first step to developing any solid, scalable global social media strategy.
But what if these conversations are happening outside of Twitter and Facebook? By the end of December 2012, China had 564 million Internet users, 50.9 million more than the year before, and representing nearly 40% of the Chinese population! As the world’s largest online community continues to grow, Chinese social media sites have become popular tools to reach Chinese consumers.
China is one of the most restricted countries in the world in terms of internet, but these constraints have directly contributed to the staggering success of local Chinese social media sites. The Chinese government makes it impossible for foreign companies to enter the Chinese social media network social network. Without access to the majority of social media platforms used elsewhere in the world, the Chinese have created their own networks, just like facebook, Myspace, Youtube, and Foursquare – but with more users – which is why every global company needs to pay attention to these sites.
“Weibo” is the Chinese word for “microblog”. Known as the “Twitter of China”, Sina Weibo is actually much more than just that – it has over twice as many users as Twitter, and it’s used by more than 22% of the Chinese Internet population of almost 540 million people! Sina Weibo was well ahead of the game in providing users with the ability to include images and video – far before its Western counterpart, Twitter.
And just as Hollywood celebrities connect with their fans via Twitter, Chinese celebrities depend on Weibo… and even some global-minded celebrities have jumped on the opportunity to connect with their Chinese fanbase through Sina Weibo. Lebron James and Kobe Bryant are two of the most influential global celebrities in Chinese social media, and they are both active Sina Weibo users. After setting up a Sina Weibo account just last month, Kobe Bryant had over 100,000 followers within a few hours. He started his account just a few days after a message appeared on Nike Basketball’s Sina Weibo account, on Chinese New Year’s Day: “Hey it’s Kobe, I’ve decided to take over Nike basketball’s Weibo handle for a few days and I wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year.”
Very similar to Sina Weibo in terms of functionality and demographics, users can share photos, videos, and text within a 140-word limit and the re-posting function of Tencent Weibo is just like Twitter’s “retweeting”, which is replied in @ form. However, Tencent Weibo acts as a social network, connecting people together – like facebook. Tencent Weibo has about 200-250 million users.
Renren is essentially China’s Facebook. Formerly called Xiaonei, which means “schoolyard”, it began as a platform for re-connecting friends from school. Like Facebook, Renren aims to stay up-to-date in the fast-growing mobile space and cater to college students. Renren has an estimated 150 million registered users and 31 million active users per month.
QQ is an abbreviation of Tencent QQ, a widely popular instant messaging service. By Last September, there were 784 million active user accounts with approximately 100 million online at a time. According to Alexa Internet rankings, the QQ website ranked 8th – moving it ahead of Twitter.
Douban is very similar to MySpace, popular with special interest groups and communities, and for networking around specific topics. It has over 100 million users and it’s most active users are intellectuals and pop culture junkies looking for movie, music and book reviews with around 60 million registered users and 80 million active users per month. For the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, Douban extended its keyword list to ban any terms that may be relevant to the incident.
Youku, meaning “excellent (and) cool”, is the second largest video site in the world after Youtube. Youku has partnered with over 1,500 license holders, including television stations, distributors, and film and TV production companies in China that regularly upload media content on the site. On March 12, 2012 – the two biggest video online companies in China, Youku, and Tudou, announced their merger – the name of the merged company is Youku Tudou Inc.
Mobile Apps & Geolocation
WeChat — is a mobile voice and text app. With social features like “friend discovery”, you can chat with your friends instantly via voice messages, texts, or images. You can also create group chats to chat with several friends together. It has more than 100 million users.