CHINA - The next social media frontier.

After over 2 years on Twitter I recently hit a huge milestone - 200,000 followers. That might be a drop in the bucket if you’re Lady Gaga or Kim Kardashian, but I never thought that many people would be interested in what I have to say. Twitter has been an amazing way for me to reach out to others, and as a service it’s uniting people from all around the world. Except, of course, in a few countries where it’s banned. One of those countries in particular happens to have 1.3 billion citizens: China.

As an experiment back in October, I signed up for the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, a service called Tencent Weibo, and I was shocked at the results. In just over 2 months of using the service, I now have over 100,000 new friends in China. At this rate I imagine that this number will surpass my twitter followers within a few weeks. I really had no idea that there was such a huge crowd of people in China interested in the life of a high fashion model, but I’m very happy to have found them half the world away!


The social media sphere in china differs from its western counterpart.  Despite the ‘GREAT FIREWALL,’ it has one of the biggest internet user bases and is the most active environment for social media (mckinsey.com).  With the censorship laws blocking some of the most popular social media sites used around the world, China decided they would fight back and create their own platforms! Genius. Without the competition of social media giants like facebook and twitter, the created platforms i.e Tencent Weibo attracted over half a billion accounts (makeawebsitehub). Although there is this great firewall, it’s not to say, marketers can’t reach their Chinese consumers. They can and they most definitely should!

Marketers must thoroughly understand the Chinese media space and each of their own platforms in order to engage with their consumers appropriately. As social media has become a vital part of marketing and advertising and as Chinas users spend more than 40 percent of their time on social media it is critical marketers examine the Chinese social media sphere. Although it may seem like a foreign social network, there are similarities in the data that can be gathered for marketing purposes from both facebook and Tencent weibo. In fact, Tencent weibo actually enables access to a larger range of consumer information for more accurate profiling. More so than name birthday and gender , Tancent weibo gives a current address,  education level, industry code and even whether or  not that person’s account is under their real name (This has me wondering why there is a great firewall and then easily accessible personal  information?)

Some interesting research I came across about the great firewall of china was that citizens were suspicious, feeling as though they were being surveilled online. This caused a modification in their speech and conversation, overall self-censorship. This suspicion deemed to be more effective in blocking internet content than the actual firewall itself !


The last post for digital communities class thanks, Anthony, and Tom!


Wow … According to the reading ‘China’s Social Media Boom’ by MaKinsey & Company, 2,267 million users globally use the Internet. China has the highest number of 513 million users who use the Internet compare to Australia with a sluggish 20 million users. I suppose that I’m not overly surprised as the Asian countries are much more technologically advanced then us. I considered Facebook to be a worldwide social media platform however in China they do not have access to Facebook and Twitter because the Chinese government doesn’t want them to be influenced by the western world. So they use their own sites, the most popular one is called Qzone which 44% of people use, Sina Weibo and Renren, 19 percent use it, Tencent Weibo, which 8 percent; and Kaixin, at 7 percent. These websites can act as social media platforms with each of them carrying different features, some are made for blogging and others are there for sharing content. It is interesting to read in this article that the Chinese population are more likely to buy something they have seen on social media compared to buying something that a friend has recommended and that is simply because they don’t believe there peers. Personally I think that is ridiculous because when you think about it social media can act like another person’s recommendation.

The use of social media globally can vary, some people use it to keep up-to-date with celebrities and trends, some use it to keep in contact with family or friends (as they may be overseas) and others use it to share content and express their thoughts. Geographic location also has an impact on the usage and content of social media. It is crazy to think that people can live on the other side of the world yet we share the same content and have access to the same trends. Because of these sites, content is being shared across nations and reaching millions of people. I do agree that social media is exploding worldwide but I don’t necessarily agree that China is leading the way as they are segmenting themselves away by creating there own social media platforms, therefore not including everyone else.

If they can’t FB, what do China do?

With a large population of internet users, China too has moved online to communicate. Because of the great firewall, they are restricted from westernized social media outlets. The main social networking site in China is called “Sina Weibo.”

There is another site used, called Tencent Weibo, that is also used. Tencent are a large organisation that own social apps like Qzone – which is blogging and photo share – and tencent weibo, another site similar to sina weibo.

In his 2012 paper, Wilfred Wang argued, “construction and negotiation of ‘geo-identity’ on Sina Weibo is a possible way to sustain political engagement. Geo-identity refers to people’s sense of self and sense of belonging to a geographic place.”

Sina weibo is the largest and most politically free form of social media in China. Through this network, Chinese citizens are offered a sense of online community and freedom. 

This week’s readings by Chiu, Lin, and Silverman say:

“Weibo means “microblogging” in Mandarin. Weibo products offer many of the features of Facebook and Twitter: for instance, users can post personal updates with a 140-character limit, upload photos and videos, and message other users. Sina Weibo introduced a multimedia function a year and a half before Twitter did.”

Weibo is used by over 30% of internet users in China.

In 2015, it was reported that Weibo has 222 million (that’s nearly ten times the population of London, or Australia for that matter) and over 100 million daily users in China alone.

There are also About 100 Million daily messages sent through the platform.

In comparison:

Facebook had 1.44 Billion users in 2015

42 Million Pages

757 Million daily users.

SIna Weibo has strict censorship laws around it. There are a reported 1000 workers to censor posts and even delete accounts which breach a strict code.

These monitors are working 24 hours a day checking the content on the site, and search for URL links and blacklisted keywords.

With that said, they are very good: 30% of deletion happens within 30 minutes, and 90% of deletions happen with 24 hours of the original post.

 In 2013, Sina Weibo moderators blacklisted the terms “Today, Tonight, and Big Yellow Duck.”

This new blacklist came about after users were posting images of the Tiananmen Square tank man photo shopped onto a big yellow duck as a sign of protest. 

In 2015, Weibo was regulated so users must use their real names. This coincided with the use of the Chinese citizen number.

Despite this, Sina Weibo is still seen as the most free form of digital speech in China. The site has the most political and cultural discussions of any other website allowed in China.