* Understanding social media in China

McKinsey Quarterly: “The world’s largest social-media market is vastly different from its counterpart in the West. Yet the ingredients of a winning strategy are familiar.

No Facebook. No Twitter. No YouTube. Listing the companies that don’t have access to China’s exploding social-media space underscores just how different it is from those of many Western markets. Understanding that space is vitally important for anyone trying to engage Chinese consumers: social media is a larger phenomenon in the world’s second-biggest economy than it is in other countries, including the United States. And it’s not indecipherable. Chinese consumers follow the same decision-making journey as their peers in other countries, and the basic rules for engaging with them effectively are reassuringly familiar.

In addition to having the world’s biggest Internet user base—513 million people, more than double the 245 million users in the United States. China also has the world’s most active environment for social media. More than 300 million people use it, from blogs to social-networking sites to microblogs and other online communities. That’s roughly equivalent to the combined population of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. In addition, China’s online users spend more than 40 percent of their time online on social media, a figure that continues to rise rapidly.

This appetite for all things social has spawned a dizzying array of companies, many with tools more advanced than those in the West: for example, Chinese users were able to embed multimedia content in social media more than 18 months before Twitter users could do so in the United States. Social media began in China in 1994 with online forums and communities and migrated to instant messaging in 1999. User review sites such as Dianping emerged around 2003.  Blogging took off in 2004, followed a year later by social-networking sites with chatting capabilities such as Renren. Sina Weibo launched in 2009, offering microblogging with multimedia. Location-based player Jiepang appeared in 2010, offering services similar to foursquare’s. This explosive growth shows few signs of abating, a trend that’s at least partially attributable to the fact that it’s harder for the government to censor social media than other information channels. That’s one critical way the Chinese market is unique.

As you shape your own social-media strategy, it’s important to fully understand some other nuances of the country’s consumers, content, and platforms.”

via Understanding social media in China – McKinsey Quarterly – Marketing & Sales – Digital Marketing.

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6 Responses to “* Understanding social media in China”

  1. Studying communications for a while, I’ve never seen one single SNS-based campaign in China as fascinating as those in the US. Using social media is one thing, reacting to it is another.
    And, even though it seems everyone has the right to “speak,” it doesn’t mean they got equal chances of being heard. Picture one day “opinion leaders” are under control, SNS is just a new tool to manipulate minds. What’s the big deal then?

    Like

    • Yyv0nne – Having the ability to blog and send messages to each other is a start. I know it is not supposed to be as open in China as in Western countries. But at least there is some means to communicate. Imagine the days of the Cultural Revolution, when even fax machines were not common and telephones were very expensive and not widespread. 😉

      Like

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