Censorship in China has led to a near complete block on Western social media sites to limit access to undesirable content on Facebook, Twitter and Google. However, the Chinese have developed their own sites, which are just as effective at providing nationals with a similar experience, albeit with Chinese characters.
So how does the Chinese social media marketing work without these well-known Western social media platforms? Weibo (equivalent of Facebook and Twitter), Tencent WeChat (similar to Whatsapp), Renren (equivalent of Facebook) and Youku & Tudou (equivalent of YouTube) are just a few of the leading social media networks in China. Tencent and Sina are the two dominating companies in social media controlling the extremely popular Weibo and WeChat.
Sina Weibo, which has over 500 million registered users, is rapidly growing. Users are limited to 140 characters, however 140 Chinese characters is nearer to 75 words in English. This allows for more depth in posts and there is flexibility in the type of content people post. Well-known Chinese celebrities and entrepreneurs such as Chen Kun and Guo Degang have over 54 million followers beating Katy Perry and Justin Beiber on Twitter.
Another leader is WeChat, which launched in 2010 and just three years later is able to boast over 270 million active users monthly, covering more than 200 countries. Created by Tencent, it is extremely well recognised and seen to be their biggest success.
However, Tencent Qzone is often forgotten. Created in 2005, Qzone allows users to post and customise their blogs, send photos and listen to music. It has gradually transformed from a personal space to one of biggest social networking platforms in China with over 600 million active monthly users.
Although the names of social media platforms are very different in China, their uses are the same across the world. Users are targeted with tailored advertising and with the use of mobile Internet services snowballing; the opportunity to reach out to customers via social media is ever appealing and increasingly effective. As Tencent have secured a $200 million ad campaign with Lionel Messi to advertise WeChat outside of China, it is highly likely that their value and user base will surge worldwide.