No Facebook. No Twitter – could you survive?

chinese social media

Couldn’t imagine life without Facebook and Twitter? This may come as a surprise but the Chinese hardly use any of the social networking sites that Western society are so familiar with. China has it’s own selection of social media that the majority of the Western world have not even heard of.

With 513 million users China has the biggest Internet user base in the world. China also has the world’s most active environment for social media with around 300 million active users with an online presence ranging from blogs to social-networking sites to microblogs and other online communities.

China boasts the world’s largest social media market – it is vastly different from its Western counterpart – yet contains the ingredients of a winning strategy. China seems to be taking over the social networking world with 6 out of the 10 most popular social networking platforms worldwide being Chinese.

Global sites including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are banned there, it’s not surprising that they have local alternatives – however unlike our Western equivalents the Chinese market is unique, as you shape your own social-media strategy.

The use of mobile devices to access social media is also on the increase – this isn’t surprising due to the fact that 80% of users have accounts on multiple social media platforms all primarily will local players.

Chinese Social Media Platforms

Sina Weibo

sina weibo

The Chinese Social Media equivalent to Twitter – It works the same way, with similar features like the use of the @ and hashtag and users choosing who they wish to follow and follow back etc.. The 140 character limit also applies but these generally correspond to syllables rather than single letters similar to the Latin alphabet.

Weibo actually translates to microblog in Chinese, microblogs in China generally contain more worlds than Twitter posts.

It is said that users of Sina Weibo are generally “white collar workers” – again like Twitter some high profile celebs have accounts – of course most are Chinese with a few overseas celebrities making an appearance.

Although social media marketing is not as prevalent in China as it is in the West, Weibo recently released a product named Follower Express (粉丝通), which allows businesses to target users according to specific demographics. Chinese consumers tend to rely on recommendations from friends, family, and influencers within their social network when purchasing, and consequently influencer marketing is growing rapidly on Weibo.

Tencent Weibo

trancent weibo

Tencent Weibo is a microblogging service, similar to Sina Weibo. It has around 540 million registered users – the user base is more focused around less well off individuals and poorer areas of China.


renren chinese facebook

This Chinese Social Media equivalent of Facebook. Some of the features are incredibly similar, such as the recently introduced timeline. It has fewer users than Qzone and Sina Weibo, but still can claim around 137 million registered accounts.

RenRen started out in very similar way to Facebook, it began as a college network and resulted in its main demographic being students and graduates. RenRen is currently making efforts to widen its appeal. Unlike Facebook, RenRen generates more of its revenue from online games over social advertising.


qzone chinese social media site
China’s biggest social network is the country’s most popular site for social sharing Qzone. Qzone started life as a blog developing into a social network giving its a focus on page customisation and personal expression. It now has 600 million registered users.

Good news for Instagrammers…

Instagram is still available to users in China, in fact around 50,000 users have the social platform connected to their Sina Weibo accounts. Instagram seems to be an ever growing way to communicate amongst the Chinese.

You can still access Facebook and Twitter through the Instagram app making it possible to share Instagram content easily on both platforms how long this freedom will last for is unclear. Although Facebook is banned for the majority of China, according to Daily Mail, the Facebook ban was lifted for those living within a 17 mile radius of Shanghai.