Weibos and Qs – China’s Social Networks

February 24, 2014 3:01 pm

China is an influential country. The culture, the food, the language and of course its social media platforms. Notably two Chinese platforms, Qzone and Sina Weibo, have claimed top spots on the list of the biggest social networks in the world, after sure-shots Facebook and YouTube.  With roughly 600 million netizens and getting close to 500 million mobile web users, this eastern giant of a country is every online marketer’s wet dream.


So what are the chief online networks our fellow Chinese netizens are utilising? Well, there are a number of interesting platforms for these web savvy explorers, including the ones just mentioned. So who are these culprits? This calls for some bullet points:

Qzone: This huge platform, competing with almighty Facebook, is actually one branch of the Tencent tree. Tencent is China’s top Internet portal as well as the leading internet company in terms of revenue.  Qzone is one of the first social sharing sites to be introduced in China and focuses on page customisation and personal expression. Those with a Qzone account can integrate other Tencent features such as the instant messaging service QQ and microblog Tencent Weibo (which has a full English interface). Qzone can most likely thank Tencents other networks for its total of 712 million users.

Sina Weibo: We just mentioned Tencent Weibo, which is a completely different platform (note, “Weibo” simply means microblog). However, usually when someone talks about “weibo”, it’s the Sina version they’re referring to. Getting an increasing amount of attention in the rest of the world, Sina Weibo is especially interesting for the western market. The platform has a 140 character limit, but before you yell “Twitter” it must be said that 140 Chinese characters equals about 70-80 words in English. This makes it a little more Facebooky, especially since it allows images and video whilst, in contemporary social media fashion, making use of both @ and #. It’s primarily used as a news feed and has also become quite a celebrity hub. Oh, and did we mention that Sina Weibo has a total of about 500 million users?

WeChat: Does the name sound a little familiar? WeChat is pretty much the Chinese version of  WhatsApp and offers users (250 monthly active users (MAUs)) the possibility to send voice and text messages, find friends and share photos. You may come in contact with this one without knowing it, as it used to be called “Weixin”.

RenRen: If you ever visit a RenRen account you may think that Google accidentally translated your Facebook account into Chinese. Not only does RenRen share Facebook’s design, but also some of its history. Originally a college project (pretty much like Facebook), RenRen’s fan base (54 million MAUs) mostly consist of students. Kaixin is a big competitor, one that has had a stroke of bad luck as they do not own the actual URL. This was bought by none other than (wait for it) RenRen, who have used it in a way that forced Kaixin into taking legal action.  The fact that the two networks look awfully alike adds to the confusion.

Hopefully that will do as a rundown of the main social networks inhabiting the Chinese online jungle. And no, we didn’t mention niche platforms like the intellectual choice Douben or (which focus on the top earning 10% of the Chinese population). Hopefully this has been enough to make you aware of the possible reach within the most populated country in the world.

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