It’s clear that social media is a huge commodity for advertisers and businesses looking to build their brand. More people access social media accounts than ever before, and China is no different with a buzzing social media scene.
Although Westerners might think that Facebook and Twitter are a huge deal, Chinese social media equivalents account for 4 of the top 12 social media websites on the internet.
For advertisers and businesses, this is a market rife with opportunity. Indeed, a 2012 study showed that 91% of Chinese citizens with an internet connection had accessed a social media account that year. Compare that to just around 70% for Americans and 30% for Japanese.
So, it’s certainly clear that Chinese social media provides ample opportunity to build your brand in an active foreign market. But, how exactly do you make sense of these social media websites especially if you have no knowledge of Chinese?
Understanding the Platforms
Your first step when making your way into the Chinese social media market is understanding the platforms.
Most of the social networks can roughly translate to their English-speaking equivalents. For instance, we are familiar with Facebook, but Renren might be entirely foreign to you. Renren is a Facebook-esque website that boasts around 172 million users. The convenient classroom discussion boards and simple connectivity make Renren an ideal choice for college students.
[Renren is seen as Facebook for China]
Another popular traditional social network is Qzone. With over 600 million monthly active users, Qzone is, in fact, the most popular social network in China and the third-most popular in the world. A large portion of its users are high school-aged. Most college-aged students migrate to the more sophisticated Renren once they graduate. Part of that is because Qzone may look childish and parents are much more likely to use Qzone than Renren.
[Qzone is popular with younger kids]
The Rise of Micro-Blogging
But, many in the Chinese social media world are predicting the end of traditional social networks like Qzone and Renren.
Instead, popular micro-blogging sites like Tencent Weibo and Sina Weibo are drawing new users by the millions.
These websites are similar to Twitter in that they only allow a limited number of characters for status updates and they utilize the “#” and “@” symbols. Even so, 140 characters in Chinese can convey deeper messages than 140 characters in English.
Sina Weibo and the upstart Tencent Weibo have seen a major popularity boost in recent years. More people are getting their celebrity news, interacting with their favorite brands, and posting status updates about their day on these websites than most others in the Chinese market. Tencent Weibo has the added benefit of integrated social media properties, including the aforementioned Qzone and QQ, an instant messaging service.
What Does This Mean?
All in all, the Chinese social media market is one of the largest platforms to build your brand. Depending on your target audience, you can choose from any number of social media websites in China.
Just be aware that content can be censored in China. Properties like gambling and pornography will not survive in an online Chinese marketplace.
That being said, virtually anyone can sign up for these social media services. You can certainly add your business to the list. You will, however, definitely want to enlist the help of Chinese-speaking individual to help you set up and maintain your social media presence in China.
If social media is your thing, check out my previous blog on social media in Brazil.