Social Media Becomes Prevalent in China

Eighty percent of respondents describe the Internet in China as social, according to “Media Shifts to Social: China,” released by Netpop Research. The report is part of the Netpop Connect series, which follows a report released on the U.S. audience earlier this month.

Broadband penetration in China totals 243 million for users age 13 and above. Of those, 224 million, or 92 percent, contribute to social media. That’s compared to 105 million Americans, or 76 percent of the U.S. broadband population. Social media activities are defined as uploading audio, video, posting to a wiki, publishing a blog, uploading photos or a podcast, publishing a Web site, tagging articles or videos, posting to a microblog, sending or forwarding e-mail, living in a virtual world, posting to a blog or forum, rating or reviewing a product, sharing files on a P2P network, or using social networking sites to publish personal pages.

“China has surpassed the U.S. in size not only in the Internet population but the broadband population as well,” said Josh Crandall, president of Netpop.

Internet saturation is stronger in China’s city centers. “It has a lot to do with the development of the urban infrastructure in the last 10 years and the large cities have expanded dramatically in China, and therefore it’s much easier to distribute broadband to people that can afford it in their homes,” Crandall said. “People in China tend to connect to broadband through a work environment more frequently; therefore it’s being subsidized by their businesses as well.”

Heavy social media contributors in China, those who take part in six or more activities in a typical week, connect with an average of 84 people on a one-to-many basis. Their U.S. counterparts connect with an average 248 people per week.

“In the U.S. people are connecting to more people on a one-to-many basis than in China,” Crandall said. “We see people that have only been e-mailing with their friends are now interacting with social networking services with friends, on photo-sharing services, and social networks as well. In China, they are not connecting to as many people in the U.S.”

Motivation for social networking differs between the two countries. “In the U.S. people use these sites for very personal and very social means,” said Crandall. “In China the adoption of social media has more to do with the career development, with the development of opinions of professional ideas, of sharing with others more than just a social engagement that we find in the U.S.”

The data are part of an online survey of 4,269 broadband users, age 13 and older, in China. It was conducted in September and October, 2008. Netpop uses Market Mirror sampling methodology, a proprietary sampling process, to select respondents on research panels.

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