This proud nation has its own lunar exploration program; it celebrates the Lunar New Year and when it comes to its social media space, it is so outlandish, that if western marketers ever land there, they probably won’t recognise the terrain.
With an online population of over 530 million Internet users (twice the number of wired Americans), the Chinese make up an increasingly powerful consumer block. According to a recent McKinsey report, the most passionate social networkers spend around 50 minutes a day visiting social media sites, compared to just 37 minutes in the U.S. Whereas ExactTarget’s study shows that 13 million Australians spend 18 hours a day online, and 3.6 hours of those is spent on social media.
A few companies have tried to tap into this unknown territory. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would have loved to reach such an overwhelmingly huge audience. Too bad China restricted access to the service in 2009.
However, the Great Chinese Firewall might be not as impermeable as previously thought. GlobalWebIndex says the number of Facebook users in China stood at 63.5 million in the second quarter of 2012, from 7.9 million in 2009. Even though the number is impressive, potential advertisers need to be wary about how long the country’s cyber-cops might allow the breach.
All-under-heaven China is the world’s largest internet market, and social media management service Hootsuite has been making advances into this unique web space. The firm has added support for Weibo, Renren and Simplified Chinese language.
Renren reportedly made a pre-IPO announcement in February 2011 that it had 160 million registered users. Later that year, however, it had to update its statement: current figures suggest that the networking site actually has around 45 million active monthly users.
Renren is one of the most profitable social networks in China. It sells big, from elaborate campaigns to big brands with mini-sites and fan pages. Just like Facebook, RenRen makes Zynga-style social games via its subsidiaries: RenRen Games and Nuomi.
However, many predict the network will never be as successful as Facebook, because it is failing to create an ecosystem that would have the power to not only create revenue for itself, but cottage other industries.
Social media is also changing the country from within. For many young Chinese it’s the source of alternative news and an amazing tool, empowering them to be socially active offline.
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