Wechat and Weibo are the social media giants most used in China. Each has more than a half-billion active users. Now China has specialized social networks for all kind of users and groups. The internet users in China want to feel really connected and have fun using all these new apps. These apps are not designed to replace WeChat or Weibo. Some of the services these new social media apps used in China provide can be integrated into WeChat or Weibo functionalities. The idea is that they are useful because they are community-based on a specific field. We can find social media focused on moms, gamers, photos, food or even fashion. The apps do 1 thing and excel in this field.
It’s the most popular dating network in China. They received US$5M in series A funding, and this copycat of Tinder will get more popular this year. People who are familiar with the Western dating app Tinder will recognize that’s a COPY of the site. Set up a photo profile and search for single people in your area. If you don’t like the person you see, swipe left and move on to the next person’s photo. Tinder has been blocked in China as a dangerous app, so this local copycat has free access to the market. Website:
MeetYou was designed to track menstruation. But it evolved into something more social with more functionalities. It’s now health and lifestyle-oriented social media for women of different ages. It still has the period-tracking feature and has added other features like health diary. You’ll find active users related to health, weight loss, clothing, fitness, relationships and travel on this app. It’s pretty successful and has 2 million users with 1.2 million daily active users. The startup started this year with $15 million in funding and obtained another $30 million in June.
LMbang (la ma bang can be translated to “hot moms group”) is another social network for women. It’s not just about sharing experiences about diapers and baby’s first steps. The core idea was to create a space for women who just became moms to discuss and share their concerns about life, including fashion, healthcare, and lifestyle tips. It’s a mix of Facebook and Pinterest. This app is a portal dedicated to moms. The LMbang app and website has over 20 million registered users with 2.6 million are daily active users. The app obtained $20 million in series B funding at the start of July 2016.
Laiwang is the only app on this list that could completely replace WeChat or Weibo. It has all the functionality of the other apps. Laiwang was created by Alibaba as it’s messaging app and was first released in July 2012. About a year later, after it got no significant traction, it was redesigned and relaunched. Alibaba’s social app took another direction in April this year when it got an update. It’s not emphasizing messaging anymore and is putting all the focus on themed groups.
“Laiwang has changed its main focus from being an instant messaging app to providing more focused social networking services. It enables users not to only keep in touch with the friends that they already know, but also find more people who share the same interests and interact with them,” explained an Alibaba representative to TechinAsia.
Now it is a specialized, community-based social network that could be used with a WeChat marketing campaign and Weibo. Very few people that use Laiwang can explain the purpose of the app. Which makes it tough to use it purely for messaging. The e-commerce titan hasn’t revealed the user numbers for Laiwang.
Momo is the largest of these specialized social networks with over 100 million registered users and 52 million monthly active users. After gaining traction in early 2012, the flirting app hit 10 million registered users in last August. A few months after, Momo obtained $40 million in funding from the giant Chinese e-commerce Alibaba.
But Momo is not just a chatting and hook-ups app. It has evolved to include theme-based interest groups and added Foursquare-style check-ins in 2013. This feature makes the app even more social, and makes users stay longer after the initial curiosity of simply testing out a dating app. The app also moved into social gaming in order to diversify its services. There are now several Momo-branded casual games that integrate with the social network part of the app. It followed the example of the giant social networks Facebook and Chat recently.
Pengpeng, an onomatopoeic name like “pew pew”, is one of the weirdest social networks in China. It’s a mobile social gaming app that also includes dating features. The concept here is to use games to break the ice and create some new relationships. Among its many games, quizzes and personality tests. The results of which form a part of the big data used to match the users. Most of Pengpeng’s games are self-developed, but it has also opened it’sAPI to other developers. The startup says it has 300,000 daily users in just 2 months after its launch.
Pinco is a photo app and social circle for selfies, and displaying the things you own. It seems like Instagram, but it involves showing off. You take a photo, add filters, and then tag the brands and products like your Macbook computer, Starbucks coffee, Guess bag, Calvin Klein T-shirt, etc. The user created tagged photos can also be shared on other social media apps like Weibo or Wechat. This app is designed for fashion-addicts and following the latest trends in fashion.
This app appeared in late 2012 with a feature initially looked like a gimmick (the users can attach a vocal message to photos). But it turned out that people like the idea. The app keeps growing and is now one of the biggest social photo apps in China. Papa has now over 20 million of active users in China.
(The App is new, the social network is not.)
P1 was founded in 2007 as a social network for people with a taste for the finer things in life. It is designed for people with a high purchasing power, the upper-class with refined taste. It was a website and they recently changed to an app. It is a goldmine for luxury brands who want to coordinate offline events and conduct market surveys. They represent the main revenue for P1. The app is working with some prestigious brands like Chanel, Pernod Ricard, Dior, Adidas, Lamborghini and BMW. The user-base of this app reached 3 million this year.
This list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t have a foodie app. Ricebook is a social food app that helps you take great pictures of your food and share them with friends over social media networks like Weibo and Wechat. So when you’re looking for a place to eat, these pictures can help make your decision. However, this app, like Baidu Maps and Dianping, offers reviews and listings as well. These services correspond to the American review site Yelp. But Ricebook is more social and its app is well-designed. It is competitive in a very competitive sector. Ricebook obtained $7 million in series B funding in April. The app had only 200,000 users in the middle of last year, but things evolve fast and we may find Ricebook among the top most used apps in China soon.
Top New Social Media Apps Used in China Conclusion:
Chinese Social Networks are becoming more targeted. Weibo and Wechat may lose market share in the future because Chinese users may find more communities, like these new social media apps used in China, that can answer to their needs.
Hero photo by 贝莉儿 DANIST on Unsplash
Social Media Apps Used in China FAQs
It might be common knowledge that China banned the use of popular social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. They have their own “counterpart” of these platforms and the social media networks that China use are WeChat, Tencent QQ, Sina Weibo, Xiao HongShu, Zhihu, Meituan, Toutiao, Douban, and DouYin, also known as TikTok.
The most used social media in China as of Q3 of 2020 based on a survey are WeChat at 73.2%; followed by Sina Weibo at 47.1%; Kuaishou, a short video app at 45.1%; Douyin, or popularly known as TikTok at 41.1%; and Baidu Teiba, a communication platform at 30.5%.
TikTok, a video-sharing social platform is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. Its founder is Zhang Yiming — a Chinese billionaire internet entrepreneur who built the company in 2012. In China, TikTok is known as Douyin. The platform allows its users to create 15 seconds to one-minute videos with special effects and filters. TikTok became one of the fastest-growing social app worldwide with 689 million active monthly active users.
Yes, TikTok is allowed in China. In fact, the app is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company. However, they have their own counterpart which is called DouYin. So TikTok is a global version of the app, while DouYin is for China users only. If you want to create DouYin, you need to use a Chinese number to register.
India first banned TikTok entirely due to a border clash with China. And recently, Pakistan banned the app as well because the content in the app is offensive in Pakistan’s culture and lifestyle. There are also several countries that attempted to ban the app but later lifted the ban such as Indonesia, Bangladesh, and United States.