Chinese economy growth rate prediction have slowed(predicted growth for 2012 is between 7.5 to 7.9%), this however is still a growth compared to the rest of the World. Here it only makes sense to start understanding the Chinese market direction in terms of online and social media. Roughly 35% of the Chinese population are online – that is approx 450 million users – more than the US total population. (2011 figures)
The Chinese government still restricts the use of Facebook, Twitter and Google + in hopes to control the media messages which are being spread.
Social media sites to be aware off – very much active in China:
Important Chinese Sites:
1. Weibo: The Twitter of China.
China blocked Twitter and other micro-blog technology (Fanfou.com) in 2009 when riots started in the Western region ofXinjiang. The government could foresee Twitter enabling the revolutions we saw in the Middle East last year (by the way, Malcolm Gladwell, you were incorrect, the revolution was indeed tweeted). Weibo remains and is growing. Interestingly enough, 140 characters maximum isn’t as limiting in Chinese as it is in English. Each Chinese symbol expresses so much more than each English character. Owned by publicly traded Sina Weibo means “microblog.”
2. RenRen: In 2006, Oak Pacific Interactive bought Xiaonei for around $4 million. It has since renamed it RenRen (in August 2009), which literally translates to “everyone.” With an estimated 120 million users, it is trying to become the Facebook of China. RenRen users are primarily high school and college students with Café Internet access.
3. Kaixin001: Literally means “happy” in Chinese. This social network is cleaner and has an older, white-collar demographic than its rival RenRen. Think Facebook (Kaixin) vs. MySpace (RenRen) circa 2007. Kaixin even has a knock-off of FarmVille called Happy Farm. Interestingly enough, users can use the same log-in to access RenRen and Kaixin001.
4. Youku and Tudou: Think YouTube/Hulu marriage. Less stringent copyright enforcement enables as much as 70% to be professionally produced (often pirated foreign content). This differs from American YouTube, which is dominated by shorter, user-generated videos. While Americans watch less than 15 minutes of YouTube videos per day, the youth in China spend up to an hour on these sites.
5. Taobao: “An online Walmart.” Popular among the youth of China. It is similar to eBay in that sellers offer used or new items either via an auction or fixed price. Most items are new merchandise sold at a fixed price. Started in 2003 by the Alibaba Group (partial Yahoo ownership), Taobao is closing in on 400 million registered users and has more than 800 million product listings. Large Fortune 500 companies have opened Taobao stores – finding it easier to sell their product here than on their company sites.
If you plan to do business in China, you will need to understand these social sites. Get someone “in-market” (um and maybe a translator!) to assist you in setting up strategy and executing. While these sites appear akin to Western counterparts, they certainly have their own nuances. The culture differs dramatically too.
With more consumers in emerging markets gaining access to computers, the internet and mobile devices, we’re set for an explosion in new digital devices where the developing world will definitely set the pace for the West.
The closest I’ve come to the whole China and social media experience is when I visited Guangzhou and was surprised that there was no Facebook access there. Even though my friend and I knew to expect it, it still came as a surprise. Just goes to show that we are completely not accustomed to this restrictional use of the internet at all. However, with all the economic growth happening in China at the moment, we might need to get used to using a Ren Ren instead.
Profile pic ideas anyone?