Social Media Opportunities in China

China has the world’s largest online population with 485 million Chinese users by June 2011, according to China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) data. At the same time, Chinese government policies and censorship block many established Western social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter and user-generated content/user content sharing sites including YouTube, Vimeo, and Google Docs. Access to other later established social products and sites including Foursquare and Google+ are also being blocked in China.

The blocking of popular Western social networking sites, microblogging platforms, and user-generated content sharing sites has an impact on how social networking sites have so far developed in China. Some Chinese entrepreneurs who developed domestic social websites/platforms that serve similar purposes to those of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, etc. have gained success without major foreign competitions.

The Social Clone Examples

The Chinese domestic social networking sites/platforms/products are somehow extremely similar or cloned to their foreign counterpart sites/platforms/products. Let’s briefly look at some Chinese clone examples.

Social network site Facebook’s equivalent in China would be Renren and Kaixin001. Renren and Kaixin001 both are platforms for Chinese online users to make friends and socialize. They provide functions for users to upload photos and allow them to play online games such as Happy Farm.

Microblogging platform Twitter’s Chinese equivalent is Sina Weibo. Sina Weibo claims to already have a largeer user base than Twitter by the middle of 2011. The less popular Chinese microblogging platforms are Tencent Weibo, Sohu Weibo, and 163 Weibo.

Youku, Tudou, and Ku6 are the Chinese equivalent of video sharing sites to YouTube and Vimeo. Copyright laws are often loosely enforced in China, so in Youku, Tudou, Ku6, and many other less popular video sharing sites you can find large number of unlicensed video contents of movies and TV shows.

Google Docs’ Chinese equivalent is Baidu’s Wenko. Baidu Wenko was launched to the public in 2011 and allows users to upload and share documents online.

Location check-in service Foursquare’s equivalent in China would be Jiepang. Jiepang has a location-based mobile app that allows Chinese users to earn shopping coupons and restaurant discounts depending on their check-in activities at different locations in China.

Social Media Marketing in China

Social media opportunities are in boom because:

  • Sina Weibo, Youku, Renren, etc. all have the user base in the world’s largest Internet population.

Also because:

  • Broadband Internet connection has become very affordable in most of the places in China. Once you are online, creating a Sina Weibo account is free and easy.
  • As the number of higher educated population has grown in recent years, there is a need for these highly educated Internet users to consume media via social media other than the everyday traditional media that have been controlled by the government.
  • The economies of China’s tier one cities (Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou) have been growing really fast with unlimited job opportunities and have attracted a large younger population all over China to join the workforce. The large number of Chinese population each year that has migrated to these top tier cities and needs to maintain regular communication with their family members via social networking sites.
  • China government’s one-child policy has led to many of today’s Chinese young generations without siblings. The new generation of young Chinese has to use social networking sites to reach out to others.

What does this all lead to? The high demand of adoption and consumption of social media in China have created many different opportunities in social media marketing.

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