What are the top Chinese social media networks?
Every day, companies are looking to reaching new audiences through social media marketing. But in China, knowing where to start can become a challenge in and of itself, especially if you don’t understand which Chinese social media networks are popular and which aren’t.
This will provide marketers with a starting point allowing them to dive deeper into the world of Chinese social media marketing.
Here are the 5 social media sites that marketers should consider using when they first enter the Chinese market.
WeChat is becoming the most popular social network in China. WeChat is a messaging app that has combined social elements similar to Facebook. It has a feature called “moments” that allows users to see updates from friends and businesses much like the Facebook timeline.
Along with moments, there is also a feature that allows you to find “People Nearby,” “Shake” (which allows users to see profiles of other users also shaking their phone), and “Drift Bottle” (which allows users to send a message out that can be picked up by any other user).
WeChat is the closest thing to Facebook that China has, and at nearly 1.2 billion users – including at least 100 million registered users outside of China – WeChat should be your top priority for your Chinese social media marketing. As brand continue to battle for brand awareness within China, more and more companies are looking to leverage WeChat to reach their target audience.
If you’re just getting started on WeChat, check out this informative video below for more information on the “Facebook of China”:
Further Reading: WeChat Marketing: 10 Tips to Market Your Brand on WeChat
Sina Weibo has already peaked some years ago but it is still an important and active social networking site in China. With 222 million active daily users, Sina Weibo is smaller than WeChat but still has a powerful presence in Chinese social media. Sina Weibo is often referred to as the “Twitter of China” but this is a little simplistic.
The platform offers many different features including music, games, and charities. For marketers looking to leverage the platform, the easiest way it to setup a verified account and use the “Twitter” aspect which allows users to post 140 characters including links, videos, and photos.
That said, Sina Weibo has become extremely spammy so many users are abandoning it. Marketers should be aware of this issue and be sure not to spam users. Maintaining an active account is recommended for brand awareness but the platform is not suitable for brand engagement, and, due to the high number of fake accounts, Sina Weibo marketing ROI is hard to calculate.
Further Reading: The Definitive Guide to Weibo Advertising
Youku Tudou is one company but two platforms. Youku is the Chinese equivalent of YouTube. Youku allows for users to upload and watch videos. Tudou is a little different because it provides more movie-based content. Most movies can be found in their entirety on Tudou and users can watch the full-length movies online.
The company averages 200 million daily views, and has said previously that it plans to invest heavily in new content. The tendency for Chinese users to watch videos on mobile devices has allowed the company to expand rapidly over the last few years and provides marketers with an excellent platform to display video based advertisement.
According to Synthesio, Douban is “Popular with special interest groups and communities, and for networking around specific topics…and it’s most active users are intellectuals and pop culture junkies looking for movie, music and book reviews.” While seemingly a niche social network, Douban has about 300 million monthly active users.
For marketers looking to engage with specific communities, this platform offers many options, but like with most community-based platforms, marketers are advised not to spam. Think about marketing on Reddit and how communities are formed and created, and that will provide a better understanding of how to move forward.
You have to become part of the community before users will take you seriously and spamming will get you banned. For more information about building brand awareness on Douban, refer to this article, “Douban and the brand identity.”
In my last article about social media in China, I introduced RenRen. In 2005, RenRen launched a clone of Facebook, which quickly became popular with university students from China. RenRen is a story of first to the market, although after initial success, it became stagnant.
Unfortunately for Ren Ren, it has become a ghost of its former self, similar to the first generation social network MySpace, and its monthly active users have dropped well below 100 million users. Although this platform has lost favor with many mainstream users, it is still widely popular with high school and university students.
It seems to be the first step for many young users looking to engage with others online. Marketers can leverage RenRen to reach younger consumers and potential overseas students who are traveling abroad for the first time.
Any marketer that is looking to engage in social media marketing in China should first take the time to understand and learn more about these 5 Chinese social media networks. Social media marketing in China is similar in many aspects to social media marketing in America or Europe: sharing interesting and relevant content on these platforms will ensure your brand is engaging and will help increase your brand awareness. There is no better time than the present to get started because your competitors are already present and engaging with potential Chinese consumers.
Hero photo by Adem AY on Unsplash
Miguel Robert is an expert in Chinese Social Media. Miguel is passionate about marketing and advertising, currently lives in Beijing, China and is actively pursuing a career in the advertising industry. He is currently a content marketing coordinator at a Chinese social media marketing agency and a contributor at Advertising@chinaSMACK. Feel free to contact him about social media marketing in China and other business related to the Chinese Markets.
Chinese Social Media FAQs
When the word “social media” comes up, the first things we think of are the big sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. However, these sites are banned in China. Instead, the social media sites Chinese use are WeChat, Sina Weibo, Tencent QQ, Tencent Video, Xiao HongShu, Douban, Zhihu, Meituan, Toutiao, and DouYin (TikTok).
WeChat is the most popular social media in China. In the third quarter of 2019, around 78% of China’s population uses the site. WeChat has now 1.17 billion monthly active users making it the 5th most popular/used social media platform worldwide. WeChat is called the “Facebook of China” due to the similar functions it has with Facebook.
If you are considering to enter the Chinese market, the top 5 social media platforms you need to focus on are WeChat, the Facebook of China; Sina Weibo, the “Twitter of China”; Youku/Tudou, the “YouTube of China”; Douban, a niche social network; and RenRen, the most popular social media with Chinese university students.
Since Facebook is not allowed in China, the Chinese use WeChat instead. In fact, it is referred to as the “Facebook of China”. WeChat has similar features and functions with Facebook such as messaging, “moments” like the Facebook timeline, “People Nearby”, “Shake” which allows users to see other users’ profiles and others.
Like Facebook, YouTube, Google, and Twitter, Instagram is also banned in China. It is also not in any Chinese app stores. If you will try to use the app from the country, it will show an error message on your screen. Here is the list of websites that are blocked in mainland China.