Skip to content

Connecting with Social Networks in China

In my recent blog What You Should Know About Chinese SEO , we discussed how Baidu and other local search engines in China monopolize the Chinese market while other worldly renown search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing) TOGETHER share less than 5% of the market. You should not be surprised to know that China has its own social media.

Top social media networks in China

1. Weibo:  weibo ( 微博) means microblog in Chinese. It pretty much functions as Twitter in China. There are two main players:  Sina Weibo ( 新浪微博) with over 400 million users and Tencent Weibo (腾讯微博) with 200-250 million users. Weibo, like twitter, is mainly a mobile-focused social network for mass communication.

Most of the celebrities in China use the platform to connect with their fans, and even some global minded non-Chinese celebrities have taken advantage of this platform to connect with their fan base. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have their accounts on Sina Weibo and they are two of the most influential celebrities in Chinese social media. 400 million users and Tencent Weibo (腾讯微博) with 200-250 million users. Weibo, like twitter, is mainly a mobile-focused social network for mass communication.


2. Renren (人人网):  basically the Facebook in China. It was formerly called “Xiaonei”, meaning “schoolyard” as it began as a platform to reconnect with friends from school. There are about 150 registered users and 31 million active users per month.

Dell launched corporate accounts on both Sina and Renren to increase awareness and, in just six months, became the third most followed international brand on Sina with 20,000 followers.

Source: Direct2Dell (China Digital Marketing Landscape Report by Econsultancy)


3. Youku (优酷) is the second largest video site in the world after Youtube. In China it is of course number one since Youtube is blocked there. Youku has partnered with television stations, distributors, and media production companies in China who regularly upload media content on the site. I know from personal experience that Youku’s influence is more than people in China. Living in the US, I know many of my Asian friends, including myself, visit Youku on a regular basis.


4. Instant Messaging: QQ, owned by Tencent, is the most popular instant messaging platform in China. As of September 2012, there are over 700 million active accounts with approximately 100 million online at a time.

5. Weixin/WeChat is a mobile voice and text app similar to WhatsApp and Line. You can chat with friends instantly via voice messages, texts or images. There are more than 100 million monthly active users.

What about Facebook, Twitter and YouTube?

Due to China’s policy of internet censorship, these big players in the Western World, along with over 2000 websites are blocked in China. Rumor has it that Facebook will finally be allowed into the country during Mark Zuckerberg’s pre-IPO visits to China. But it has not happened yet. Even if it does someday, the Facebook’s main revenue streams, advertising and gaming, along with many other core features are strictly regulated by the Chinese government. This applies to Twitter and Youtube as well.


It may feel overwhelming for Marketing and PR managers outside of China knowing and thinking that China has completely different social media networks than in the US. But on Weibo alone, there are twice as many users as Twitter. With strong marketing strategy and well localized content, the effort will be well worth it.