Chinese Social Media Landscape China is considered to be ‘the world’s biggest Internet market’, with over 457 million internet users country-wide. That’s 34% of the population, with a growth of an estimated 10 million new users every month. There are:
Gaming: Low quality; Qzone develops in-house copies of popular games, but prohibits users from adding games without paying at certain times.
Financing: Tencent, Qzone’s parent company, is massively profitable and can employ incredible resources should it so desire.
Business strategy: There is a lack of advertising and quality games,and nothing equivalent to business fan pages on Facebook. The only way to advertise would be to set up a member profile in the business name.
Pengyou is the official name of Qzone’s social networking site, however it is regularly referred to as Qzone or QQ
It holds the teen demographic, but poor site design and management have cost it ground against its competitors. Qzone is shut out of the market for older students and white-collar workers, and RenRen is now encroaching on its core demographic of teens
A closed platform, meaning that developers can’t alter the HTML code to customise pages.
Limited apps: Only around 50 applications (mainly games).
Gaming: Was the first site to launch the social gaming craze in China and its users love them. It now lags behind Renren in terms of quality since it doesn’t allow for third party developers to create games. Only around 50 apps.
Financing: The network commands a large, high-value audience, and it has strong ties to the Sina Corporation, so being acquired is a possibility (Sina holds a stake in Kaixin001 and Binghao is a former Sina CTO).
Business strategy: Kaixin001 has seen rapid growth and has captured a desirable demographic of white-collar workers which is appealing to advertisers. A mix of business profile and paid advertising would be suggested.
Kaixin’s users spend twice as much time on the site compared to other networks.
Its interface is very clean and simple – like a pared down version of Facebook, with minimal advertising.
In 2008 and 2009, Kaixin001 gained a widespread following among white collar office workers in top tier cities and threatened to become China’s leading real-name social networkhowever its growth is slowing with the popularity of RenRen and SinaWeibo taking off.
Target Market: Majority of users are students although Renren strives to retain those users after graduation.
Gaming: More than 250 apps (almost all games) and has the most and best in the China market. The umbrella group, Oak Pacific Interactive, is building an empire on top of Renren. Renren users are channeled toward Oak Pacific Games (gaming is the traditional cash cow for China’s Internet).
Financing: In the process of offering an initial public offering sometime in 2011 or 2012
Business strategy: Renren’s primary revenue comes from advertising (similar to the Facebook ads) and (again similar to Facebook), you can create a fan page for your business howeverRenren is strong when it comes to monetization. Brand campaigns are sold to companies at high prices. Fan pages, while free on Facebook, start at 600,000 yuan (about $90,000).
Renren’sdesign and business model are copied from Facebook – whenever Facebook brings out a new app or change, Renren follows suit. One unique feature to Renren is that it shows a ‘footprint’ of the last person to visit your profile.
Application programming is open source, and users can have customised themes for their profiles.
Renren is actively developing advertising, gaming and e-commerce revenues, and is set to become the largest network in China.
Because of its high value, RenRen is starting to push outward from university students into both younger and older demographics. As teens become savvier on the internet at younger ages, they will start to abandon Qzone for RenRen. As students move into the workplace they should remain loyal to RenRen, encroaching upon Kaixin001.
Target Market: Similar to twitter, a mix of general interest microbloggers to business users in main metropolitan areas.
Gaming: Like twitter, no gaming platforms at the moment.
Financing: SinaWeibo has more than 70 million registered users, expects to keep growing rapidly, and perhaps even exceeds Twitter in active users. This explosive growth has brought the value of the network up to an estimated $2 billion.
Business strategy: Sina, also the owner of China’s largest portal site, has lofty ambitions for Weibo that could compete with traditional social networks. It’s constantly experimenting with new features and already seems to have stolen away much of Kainxin001s audience.
SinaWeibo is a microblog that far surpasses Twitter in functionality (threaded comments, groups, audio messages and direct video uploads)
Sina, also the owner of China’s largest portal site, has lofty ambitions for Weibo that could compete with traditional social networks. It’s constantly experimenting with new features and already seems to have stolen away much of Kainxin001′s audience.
2012: CHINA PREDICTIONS Chinese Search With Google’s exit from China, many of the smaller Chinese search engines are rallying to fill this gap. It would be possible to see at least one of these engines take a different angle to Baidu (the most widely used SE) and push more real-time information, e.g. from Sinamicroblogginguser comments The number of Social media sites in China will reduce; either from being under-funded, failing to build an audience or simply being acquired and rolled up. A number of new vertical channels to appear but the more established ones (egRenren and Sina) continuing to dominate and expand their offerings. Microblogging: Thousands of web users are set to post real time status’, photos & videos. Traditional media, including solid professional outfits as well as the party media, will use Weiboto aggregate and share information. Social Commerce (s-commerce) Similar to the Facebook fan pages with in-built retail sites, Renren is rumored to have a plan to drive online purchases through community reviews, group buying and exclusive communities Mobile to become a social media extensionWith many Chinese businesses banning the use of social networking sites on work computers it is easy to imagine the traditional "cigarette breaks" in 2012 being a "social media break". Android currently has 60% of the smartphone market. The first generation of social media tools in China. Similar to Facebook insights and Google Analytics, China should develop tools can monitor and automatically determine sentiment of Chinese Internet content. Into next year these platform's need to evolve to support analysis of users, authors etc Social Recommendations: Similar to the emergence of share and follow buttons on websites, chinese content everywhere will have sharing, commenting and ratings streams.