Introduction To Chinese Social Media Platforms| 8 min read

“Welcome to China, a world without Facebook, Youtube nor Twitter. Don’t panic but! When in China, do as the Chinese do!” Many of our participants arrive in China and one of their first questions is how they can live without Facebook, Youtube or Twitter and websites they areso accustomed to!

Thanks to the wonderful invention of the ‘VPN’, a fancy device that tricks your internet connection into thinking it’s established somewhere else; we can access our beloved websites!

But it’s also worth trying to develop an understanding of the popular social media platforms that aren’t blocked in China. China is indeed the wonderland of opportunities and knowing how the Chinese promote everything will be a key to success and pivotal to the role of a keen graduate wanting to get to grips with Chinese business.

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that the tech-savvy Chinese are massive social networkers:

– Easily the most popular platform is the ‘MSN-like’ QQ with roughly half a billion users

– Next with 170 million registered users is ‘the Facebook of China’, RenRen which started out as a university focused application (sound familiar?) named Xiaonei (meaning on-campus network) which was rebranded RenRen meaning ‘everyone’s website’

– Pengyou is a similar network to RenRen and the next largest

– Sina Weibo is the Chinese version of Twitter with 90 million registered users.

P1.CN labels itself ‘Connecting the Exceptional’ and is aimed solely at the upper class Chinese, you need to know people in order to be invited! Created with Chinese and Swedish knowhow, websites like this are the higher echelons of self promotion in China.

Recently a number of businesses are focusing on Chinese social media and the number of users despite the lack of English interfaces. It’s forever growing and something several companies specialize in. One such expert in this area is University of Hull graduate Sam Woolard whose business is to reach Chinese customers online with Dragon Trail, his knowhow on Chinese social media definitely surpassing mine!

To read Peter Davis’s article about Sam’s interview about the business impact on Chinese social media, please click: http://blog.grads.co.uk/2012/08/07/i-cant-tell-my-renren-from-my-weibo-t…
(Digest from Peter Davis’, International Sales Manager of ImmerQi, blog on blog.grads.co.uk)

Introduction of Chinese social media:

Users of Chinese Social Media:
The users have reached 552M, 41% of population in 2012. Chinese social media has been growing over 30% and more than tripled in 4 years.

Latest Development 2012 & Beyond:
-Social media is increasingly important for website traffic as search engines now takes social mentions as part of their algorithm.
-Weixin (also known as We Chat) launched commercial services and became the next marketing frontier.
-VBN(Visual Based Network)or VSN emerged as the next hot trends.

Reasons for Its Growth:
First, the blocking of Facebook and Twitter in China gave rise to a home grown Chinese social media ecosystem that is flourishing.

Secondly, due to the inherent mistrust of government authorities and advertising, the Chinese tend to trust the opinion of their peers much more so they look to and rely on social media for information.

Thirdly, culturally Chinese people love chatting and expressing themselves through words. Chinese netizens are much more willing to contribute content compared to Western counterparts.

Last but not the least, Chinese use social media platforms differently, less for staying touch, more for making friends, sharing jokes, opinions, learning, reading in depth analysis.

User Behavior:

  • Connecting with friends
  • Entertianment
  • Job hunting
  • Product brands
  • News and hot topics
  • Life tips

Mainstreams of Social Media Platforms:

*Note: similarity between western and Chinese social media
Sina weibo (Chinese Twitter), Youku (Chinese Youtube), Baidu (Chinese Google), Renren( Chienese Facebook), QQ (Chinese MSN), Baidu encyclopedia (Chinese Wikipedia)

Platform Breakdown:

  • Micro-blog reaches 97% of all mainstream social media users such as Sina weibo, Tencent weibo, Fenghuang weibo and Sohuweibo.
  • SNS’s penetration is about 70%. (SNS is short for Social Networking Services like Douban, Kaixin and Renren)
  • BBS and blogs are about 50%.
  • LBS, Groupons, each about10%. (such as Jiepang, Digu)

Brief introduction of mainstream Chinese social media:

Renren(Chinese Facebook)

 Popular among high school and college students
  • Daily UV (unique visitors): 21,360,000
  • Daily PV (page view): 106,800,000
  • Just like Facebook, but Renren is not professional.


Douban Forums in art, music, movie and book critics
  • Daily UV (unique visitors): 20,130,000
  • Daily PV (page view): 241,560,000
  • Create different groups to discuss online with people who share the same interests.


Weixin (We Chat) Mobile free download App (Can be everywhere in the world)

  • The most popular mobile app in 2012
  • Over 200 million users in China, over 1 million active users per month (still growing)
  • One on one, opted in direct marketing
    Instant chat, QR codes, ecommerce, LBS push (It is said that Weixin may take the lead of all in the world soon.)


QQ (Chinese MSN) Almost every Chinese has a QQ number. That’s how popular it is.
Most Chinese people aged 10 to 60+ may all have a QQ number. After downloading QQ to your computer, you will have an interface similar to MSN, there you can talk to people who you’ve added.
QQ games are also another reason why people enjoy using it. QQ is more personal than other social media platforms and it is a traditional way to contact with your Chinese colleagues/ friends.


Tencent Weibo (Chinese Twitter) English version is available! Add IESG Pang Da Panda as your friend!
Tencent weibo is run by the same company as QQ. For your convenience, if you have a QQ number, then you will also have a Tencent weibo or so-called QQ weibo.
It’s like Twitter, you can tweet/ re-tweet. Furthermore, you can also write journals and upload photos. You can even find one of the most popular soccer players on here, C. Ronaldo.


The last but definitely not the least, Sina Weibo, more functional than Twitter & Facebook!

Sina Weibo (Chinese Twitter) By far the largest and most influential social platform in China.

Statistics report:

  • 320M+ registered users
  • 70,000 brands/ corporate accounts
  • 80,000 government-related accounts; 100 M posts per day; 87% market share by browsing time
  • 57%microblog market share
  • 181% increase in users over the 2011-12
  • Top 10 biggest global network

If you know how to use Sina Weibo, you can help your company/ even yourself to get a good connection in China in order to promote your business.

See different functions on Sina weibo:

  • Weibo on the wal: For offline events live weibo screen activity.
  • Prize for following: one of the ways to attract fans by following the account or @ name for prize winning
  • Online voting campaign: basic functionality on Sina Weibo APP
  • Prize for Quiz: prize for Q & A
  • Live Broadcast: check live.weibo.com
  • Some large scale offline event can apply for this APP.
  • Micro group: Wi-group (微群) for fans who share similar interests
  • Micro topic: for influential events, hot topics
  • Wei interview: A live communication channel between celebrities and the public based on Sina Weibo; Topics such as economy, entertainment, health, education and so on.
  • Wei magazine: due to the weakness of weibo’s character limit (140) and hard to find history content, Wei magazine was created: grouped high quality content, synch to weibo posts, popular visual based page and no character limitation!The ‘Smart phone effect’ in China is rising rapidly; 97% of Chinese people have a mobile phone and 35% of them are using smart phones.Smart phone penetration in urban China has entered globally to the Top 5. You may notice while commuting in public transportation, most of the Chinese hold a smart phone in their hand, browsing on social media or using Weixin to talk to friends.It is definitely good news for all the companies who want to promote their brands online.Knowing how to navigate the Chinese social media jungle is not only a benefit for you to make connections (关系) but also a “shortcut” to do business in China.

Names of Chinese social media translation:

  • Sina weibo 新浪微博 Tencent weibo 腾讯微博 Sohu weibo 搜狐微博
    Renren 人人 Kaixin 开心网 Douban 豆瓣网
    QQ Taobao 淘宝 Baidu 百度
    Youku 忧酷 Tudou 土豆网 Fushion 风行网
    Jiepang街旁 Digu嘀咕 Qing


Rachel Yoon

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