Social media in China is a wilderness for most marketers coming from other parts of the world. With the Great Firewall keeping foreign social platforms from entering the country, local companies have built an ecosystem that caters only to Han Chinese.
While glamorous cities like Shanghai or Shenzhen often give us the impression that China is modern and technologically advanced, there are still about 500 million people living in the countryside and 30% of the population with no internet access in China.
Despite the challenges in internet access and connectivity in certain parts of the country, China still has the biggest number of internet users globally, which is more than double the number of internet users in the United States. Due to the size of this market, Chinese companies have been able to develop platforms catered specifically to the Chinese audience, providing them a huge potential for growth and success.
Despite the large market potential, social media in China is heavily regulated due to the government’s concerns for maintaining political stability. An example of this is the recent ban of Sony on the Weibo platform. This was done because of a phrase “it’s even more excited with Ni”. The play here is “Ni” rhymes with both “Sony” and the term “你” for “you” in Chinese. However, since it also rhymes with the character “Winnie” and bears resemblance to President Xi, it led to the ban.
People are still experimenting and exploring new possibilities despite regulations. The heavy use of social media in the daily lives of Chinese citizens has led to a plethora of innovative developments in various industries, such as finance, education, and health. Chinese social platforms seemingly offer solution to every single problem.
Throughout 2022, on average there are about 960.4 million active social media users in China on a monthly basis with an annual growth rate of 5.6 % in 2021-22 . This represents about 68 % of the total population. These social media users on average spend about 1.95 hours on social media and each on average have accounts on 8 platforms.
Unlike the ethnicity and culture, the Chinese social media landscape is diverse and multifaceted. The market for short videos alone comprises a variety of popular options for viewers. For example, 抖音 (Douyin), the Chinese version of TikTok, is more popular in urban areas, while 快手 (Kwai) is more popular in rural areas. Additionally, Bytedance-owned short video apps such as 火山 (Huo Shan) and 西瓜 (Xi Gua) cater to other distinct audience segments.
However, the most important one are WeChat, Weibo, Douyin, and XiaoHongShu. It’s a great starting point for most companies. to engage with the Chinese audience.
WeChat: WeChat is considered the OG of “super app,” meaning it offers a wide range of services and features within a single app. Elon Musk has expressed interest in copying this concept on to his own app, Twitter. WeChat offers a variety of features such as a PayPal-like payment system, a Medium-like blogging platform, a Steam-like game center, a Facebook-like post feature, a TikTok-like short video platform and more. It is considered as a one-stop-shop for its users. With a monthly active users of more than 1.3 billions, the app is used by almost every one in China.
Weibo:Weibo, while not an exact comparison, is similar to Twitter in that it allows users to see what is being talked about by the general public. The “熱搜” feature, or trending topics, displays the top 50-60 most discussed topics at any given moment, updated every minute. It is also one of the most heavily regulated social platforms in China, as it is text-based, making it easier to moderate, and controversial content is often easily found on the trending topic board.
With the latest data published in January 2023, we can see that at the growth rate of 0.82%, there is now around 3.22 million Facebook users in China . With male users account for around 52.99% and female users account for around 47.01%.
With the latest data published in January 2023, we can see that at the growth rate of 0.84%, there is now around 2.8 million Instagram users in China . With male users account for around 52.1% and female users account for around 47.9%.
With the latest data published in January 2023, we can see that at the growth rate of 1.02x, there is now around 5.92 million LinkedIn users in China.
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