10 Most Popular Social Media Sites in China (2019 Updated)
The key thing every company must know in order to do business in China is that Western social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and so on are banned in China. With businesses across the globe using Facebook/Instagram to reach new customers, entering a new market without them might seem impossible. However, there’s a range of other platforms available that businesses can use for social media marketing in China.
While none of the platforms can really be called The Chinese Facebook or Chinese Instagram, there are many platforms that share similar features and allow for paid advertising. If you want to learn about where Chinese internet users spend their time and what platforms you can use to grow your business in China this is the article for you.
People spend a good portion of their daily lives on social media in China, particularly on WeChat. However, it’s not just about WeChat, which has become one of the most competitive marketing channels in China. There are many platforms that can be used for social media marketing in China, so read more below to determine which ones are right for you!
Top 10 Chinese Social Media: Table of Contents
- WeChat: Not Just the Chinese Facebook Read Now
- Sina Weibo: Twitter of China Read Now
- Tencent QQ: Popular Instant Messaging App Read Now
- Tencent Video: The King of Online Video in China Read Now
- Baidu Tieba: A Search Engine Forum Read Now
- Douban: Lifestyle Discussion Platform Read Now
- Zhihu: The Quora of China Read Now
- Meituan – Dianping: The Chinese Versions of Yelp Read Now
- Toutiao: The Hottest News & Information & Entertainment Platform Read Now
- DouYin (TikTok): The Short-video App Taking the World By Storm Read Now
Runner Ups for the Top 10 Chinese Social Media Platforms! (2019 Update)
Industry-Specific Social Media Platforms
If you are interested in any China marketing services, you can talk to our social media experts directly!
1. WeChat: Not Just the Chinese Facebook
- Monthly Active Users: 1.132 Billion (Q2 2019)
- Average Daily Active Users: 619.6 million (Sep 2018)
- DAU of WeChat Mini-Programs: 200 million (Nov 2018)
- WeChat Penetration Rate: 85.5% (Oct 2018)
What is WeChat?
WeChat is an all-in-one messaging app developed by Tencent, which also provides games, online shopping, and financial services. Users can get almost everything they need from their within the app, leading to its classification as a “Super-App.” Due to these reasons, it’s risen to become the most popular social media in China.
WeChat offers far more than any of the Western messaging apps. In terms of comparison, it can be likened to a combination of the Chinese
Facebook, Whatsapp, Google News, Tinder, and Pinterest combined. It also contains ten million third-party apps called WeChat mini-programs.
There are different types of accounts on WeChat. Personal accounts are used by individuals, while businesses can create WeChat official accounts to stay in contact with their customers and post promotional information. To learn more about how to use WeChat for business check out the blog below:
Why is WeChat so important to businesses?
Today, WeChat is the largest social media platform in China, with over 1 billion monthly active users. Compare this to Facebook’s 2 billion worldwide. Given that WeChat’s user base is concentrated heavily in China it’s easy to see why many users call it the Chinese Facebook. Chinese users spend an average of over 70 minutes a day within the app. All this makes it one of the most popular choices for businesses looking to get started with social media marketing in China.
The Chinese use the WeChat app for restaurant bookings, flights, making investments, shopping, paying bills, hailing taxis, transferring money, creating posts on their Newsfeed (called WeChat Moments), etc.
Aside from that, WeChat allows companies and celebrities to create official accounts to generate content for promotional purposes. Businesses can even implement CRM (Customer Relationship Management) functionality on their WeChat official accounts, allowing businesses to track and manage the contacts on their WeChat Official Account! This makes WeChat one of the most popular tools for social media marketing in China. Read more about this below.
WeChat allows for one-to-one personalized interaction between brands and users. This allows brands to communicate directly with their followers through the messaging functions on their account. This also allows brands to provide customer service directly through their WeChat account. It’s due to this reason that many companies in China don’t even operate traditional websites instead of focusing their efforts on constantly improving their WeChat official accounts.
Tencent previously did not allow advertising as they focused primarily on building their user base. In recent years they’ve launched WeChat Advertising, allowing brands to advertise on WeChat with banner ads, KOL advertisements, and Moments ads.
A Moments ad allows advertisers to advertise within the Moments section, which can be compared to Facebook’s news feed. These are the most effective and unfortunately the most expensive form of advertisement for WeChat. Read all about this ad format and more in our blog on WeChat advertising.
In addition, QR codes might be dying in the Western world, but they are still widely used in China. Mobile users often scan for promotion, passwords or to follow a brand. To gain more followers, QR codes are essential and provide a link from the online world to the physical world. For more detail on this and everything related to WeChat Official Accounts, check out the Ultimate Guide to WeChat Official Accounts for Business (2019)
For more information about WeChat advertising, you can read our article WeChat Advertising 101: All You Need To Know.
2. Sina Weibo: Twitter of China
- Monthly Active Users (MAU): 446 Million (Dec 2018)
- Average Daily Active Users (DAU): 116.7 million (Sep 2018)
- Average Visit Duration: 8 minutes 48 seconds (Dec 2018)
- Penetration Rate: 34.3% (Oct 2018)
What is Weibo?
Sina Weibo, or Weibo, is a micro-blogging platform in China released in 2009. Weibo is one of the most popular sites in China and is often considered to be a combination of Chinese Facebook & Twitter. However, given the character limits its most often labeled as the Chinese Twitter. Weibo is the second most popular social media in China with its user base nearing 500 million users. Like WeChat, Weibo is another platform brands commonly use for social media marketing in China.
With Weibo, users can upload videos, images, and gifs. Also, they can follow an individual and read their posts, then like and share them, without being followed back.
Related article: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to The Weibo for Business
Why is Weibo important for your business?
As of Q4 2018, Weibo had 446 million monthly active users, growing by nearly 100 million users in 2018 alone. It is specifically popular among young white-collar workers and the urban online population with mobile phones. Weibo’s users make up a huge market that companies cannot just ignore.
Chinese people come to Weibo for several reasons including information, sharing, and the opportunity to engage with other users.
Because Weibo is a blogging site, it acts as a large source of informational and trending content. Companies, organizations, and celebrities in China have Weibo accounts to interact with their customers, fans, and followers. This is one of the most popular platforms for KOLs in China to work on. Since there are no limits on posting like there is on WeChat KOLs on Weibo can do multiple promotions a day, significantly increasing their income.
Other than that, companies can create and manage a page for users to interact and discuss on to increase the level of communication with their customers. It also allows brands to communicate with large groups of users through hashtags & paid to advertise and even sell their products directly through the platform. All this makes Weibo another incredibly popular channel for social media marketing in China.
Related article: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to The Weibo for Business
3. Tencent QQ: One of the Earliest and Most Popular Social Media in China
- Monthly Active Users (MAU): 803.2 million (Aug 2018)
- Average Daily Active Users (DAU): 267.7 million (Sep 2018)
- Penetration Rate: 69.3% (Oct 2018)
What is QQ?
QQ is another instant messaging app developed by Tencent. Just like WeChat, it offers users multiple services like games, music, shopping, micro-blogging, movies, group chat, and voice chat.
QQ has a desktop version that is incredibly popular with white collar workers. Plus, QQ doesn’t require a phone number to register like WeChat. Users each have a unique numerical ID for their accounts. This was the most popular form of online communication in China prior to the release of WeChat.
While QQ is still often used for corporate communication among white-collar workers but, the user base is younger than on other platforms. It’s been facing stiff competition from WeChat Official Accounts & WeChat Work, a product launched by Tencent that is similar to the Western messenger, Slack.
Why is QQ important for your business?
As of September 2018, QQ had more than 802 million users according to Tencent’s third-quarter results. Making this platform another giant market for advertisers, and another popular platform for social media marketing in China.
Businesses can open an organization account, which is known as a QZone. This was previously one of the most popular advertising channels in China but has seen a decline in recent years due to the popularity of WeChat.
Furthermore, Tencent offers paid marketing programs. With these programs, you can pay Tencent, and have them create content for you, then have it published in different areas of QQ. Some examples of where this content/advertisement can be published are on QZone games, in pop-up windows, banners, etc.
It is important to note that QQ is more popular in 3rd and 4th tier cities and its users tend to skew younger, meaning they have limited spending power. While it is a powerful tool for social media marketing in China, advertising luxury products on Qzone might not be the best option if you’re looking to drive sales.
4. Tencent Video: The King of Online Video
As you probably know, the online video market in China is highly competitive. In recent years it’s always come down to 3 major players, IQiYi, Tencent Video, and Youku. Formerly, Youku had dominated the online video market, but its grip has slipped in recent years. Tencent Video has now completely overtaken its competition.
Statistics from the show that Tencent Video is now leading the online video market by having over 500 million mobile monthly active users and 63 million subscribers as of April 2018.
As of October 2018, Tencent video achieved a record-high market penetration rate of 48%, with IQiYi right behind it with 44.6%. Youku remained low in comparison with 30.8%. The difference in daily active users is even more striking, with Tencent Video leading the pack with 116 Million DAU, as compared to IQiYi’s 85.6 million and Youku’s 37.5 million. While IQiYi and Youku’s numbers are nothing to sneeze at Tencent Video has clearly taken the lead in this market. We’ll see how the market progresses as we continue into 2019.
5. Baidu Tieba: A Search Engine & Forum in One
- Monthly Active Users (MAU): 300 million (Feb 2017*)
- Average Daily Active Users (DAU) 148 Million (Aug 2018)
- Average visit duration: 6 minutes 52 seconds (Dec 2018)
- Market Penetration Rate: 4.8% (Sep 2018)
*Updated MAU unavailable as of January 2019
What is Baidu Tieba?
Baidu Tieba is the largest communication platform in China provided by the search engine company, Baidu. Baidu Tieba is a keyword-based discussion forum where users can search for information through a search bar. This forum covers hosts discussion on nearly every topic imaginable, making it another platform for businesses getting started with social media marketing in China. Users create individual “Tiebas” for each distinct topic with a dedicated moderator for each “Tieba.”
If you had to compare it to something in the West it would likely be most comparable to other open forum platforms. For the most direct comparison, this would likely be similar to China’s version of Reddit, with “Tiebas” acting like subreddits. Forums can be popular for social media marketing in China, but given their open nature things can get nasty very quickly if users feel like you’re abusing the platform for advertising purposes.
For a full overview of Baidu Tieba Check out the blog below:
Why is Baidu Tieba important for your business?
Baidu has 660 million monthly active users, according to DMR Stats, which we do think is a bit inflated given that it only had 300 million users as of last official reporting in 2015.
Users, especially businesses, can create their own content and target specific niche groups through the platform. Businesses can post on a range of topics and utilize the platform to engage with other users. This is what makes it so popular for many social media marketers in China.
Using this platform correctly can help develop an organic presence in China without resorting to paid advertising. This platform can be very useful for businesses that have good brand awareness in China, yet little presence on Chinese social media platforms. It can also be a powerful tool for collecting feedback from Chinese netizens.
6. Douban: Lifestyle and social discussion platform
- Monthly Active Users (MAU): 300 million (2016*)
- Average visit Duration: 4 minutes 28 seconds (Dec 2018)
What is Douban?
Douban is a social networking platform that focuses on expressing oneself and one’s lifestyle. Users often post on Douban to discuss books, movies, music, and events. The landscape on Douban is constantly shifting and trends emerge and die off relatively quickly on the platform. This is another platform that is often considered to be something similar to a Chinese Reddit.
Douban makes it easy for users to book tickets for movies and concerts, download e-books and even listen to their own radio station, douban.fm, through their interface.
Users can also connect with each other based on similar tastes and interests.
Demographically speaking, the platform is used mostly by citizens of Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. Douban has a relatively low user base compared to other platforms, primarily because it does not require users to sign-up and create an account to access content. While this might deter some marketers, this is an incredible platform for promoting more sophisticated and culturally oriented products. For businesses in the arts, this is one of the most popular platforms for social media marketing in China.
Why is Douban important for your business?
SimilarWeb shows that Douban has 227.49 million monthly total visits as of the 11 of April 2019, another promising number for advertisers.
Douban offers very little in terms of advertising, as they only offer banner ads (with a relatively high CPM of 15-20 RMB). However, Douban also allows brands to create a “brand station,” a separate page, where they can post about their brand story, history, logo, etc.
Due to the nature of the platform, utilizing word of mouth marketing on the platform can be very effective. The primary reason users come to Douban is for reviews, ratings, and discussions. Brands can seize opportunities to change and improve opinions of their brands or products on the platform, but they must also be careful not to aggravate the community as this could have negative consequences.
Brands can create events that are able to get people with the same interests together as a discussion group so that you and the consumers can have authentic interactions with potential customers. This is another amazing way to gather feedback on your brand from Chinese netizens.
7. Zhihu: The Quora of China
- Registered Users: 160 Million (Jun 2018)
- Average Daily Active Users (DAU) 7.05 Million (Sep 2018)
- Average Visit Duration: 4 minutes 36 seconds (Dec 2018)
What is Zhihu?
Zhihu is a question and answer site just like the English equivalent, Quora. Zhihu raised 100 million USD in its series D, leading to it becoming one of China’s many “unicorn,” companies with over a 1 billion USD valuation. Zhihu started in a similar fashion to Quora, but it has become much more in recent years. Zhihu users are highly engaged, with many posts accruing tens of thousands of upvotes/downvotes and hundreds of comments.
While posts on Quora can be quite lengthy, it is common for posts on Zhihu to be over 5k words and cover incredibly specific questions. Users often include charts, graphics, and other media to further demonstrate their point and improve the quality of their answers. Zhihu has also introduced several new features which Quora has yet to emulate, for example:
Zhihu’s Latest Features
- Popular Zhihu answerers can open their own “column” and write essays, without having to answer any specific question
- Zhihu readers can voluntarily “tip” the authors of essays they like. This function utilizes the WeChat wallet and instantly transfers money into the author’s account. Most people tip 2 RMB (about 30 cents), but some tip more. This is entirely voluntary, yet people utilize it. It’s a way to reward authors for good content and to provide incentive writers to contribute better quality content.
- Zhihu has a new feature called 值乎, which when romanized also reads as “Zhihu”, but is actually a different character. In this feature, Zhihuers respond to questions with a 1–2 minute sound recording answering the question, and people can purchase the recordings for a price set by the recorder.
- Zhihu Live is the biggest new feature on Zhihu. Top Zhihuers are invited to prepare TED talk style lectures, with about 30 minutes of content and 30 minutes for Q&A. The lectures are live broadcast (sound only) and follow a set schedule. Listeners have to sign up ahead of time to participate. Cost for one lecture seems to range from 20 — 100 RMB (3 to 16 dollars).
Thanks to Matt Hartzell for noting these new features!
In terms of demographics, Zhihu users are highly educated, wealthier than average, and concentrated in tier 1 and tier 2 cities. With over 100 million monthly active users, Zhihu’s users base should seem very attractive to brands throughout the world. For complex purchases, there’s no better platform to use than Zhihu!
Why is Zhihu important for business?
One important fact to note about both Quora and Zhihu, is that they both have tremendous trust rankings on search engines. If you’re a Google user, I’m sure you’ve noticed how often Quora posts appear in your search results, and the same is true for Zhihu on Baidu in China. Creating the discussion on these platforms regarding your brand and providing useful information to users on these platforms can greatly improve your presence on search engines.
While advertising in the traditional sense might not be incredibly effective on either platform, providing users with useful content will almost certainly result in some increased brand awareness. Businesses can answer questions that relate to their industry and post links to their company website or contact form. However, businesses must be careful to not come off as too sales-oriented and self-promotional. Users accept the presence of links to websites and contact forms in exchange for useful content and contributions to discussions, but outright sales pitches will not fare well.
One way to ensure that your the content you create on this platform is through KOL promotion. While they might not consider themselves as KOLs in the traditional sense, top contributors on Zhihu have managed to gain massive followings on the platform. Collaborating with these top contributors can help brands to reach their target audience and impart a sense of trust to Zhihu users. For B2B brands or businesses with very complex products, Zhihu is the ideal platform for social media marketing in China. Especially when products require customers to be educated about the uses, benefits, and features of a product Zhihu is the perfect platform.
8. Meituan-Dianping: The Chinese Version of Yelp
- Registered Users: 382.3 Million (Nov 2018)
- Number of Merchants: 5.5 Million (Jun 2018)
- Average Visit Duration: 2 Minutes 15 Seconds (Dec 2018)
What is Meituan-Dianping?
Dianping, roughly translated as everyone’s comments, was first created to collect people’s feedback on restaurant services and to share reviews with consumers. It’s basically the Yelp of China. However, like everything else in China, it offers even more than its Western counterpart. In 2015, it merged with Meituan a similar service more popular in 2nd and 3rd tier cities. After the merger, Meituan became another “Super-App” with a wide range of functionality.
However, Meituan services are broken down among 4 apps, that are all linked together, Meituan, Dianping, Maoyan, and Meituan Waimai. Users can order food directly from within the apps, purchase promotional offers at nearby restaurants for later use, book movie tickets, or participate in group buying. The service has become so popular that they process over 20 million orders daily, according to Jane Zuo of Meituan-Dianping.
The platform is not only limited to restaurants as users can also post reviews and buy discounts on bars, beauty salons, hotels, gyms, and so on. However, the platform’s core business is in food & beverage. When you search for a restaurant on Dianpang, for example, there are tons of photos that help to give you an idea of what to expect at the restaurant. These pictures will also often include useful information like restaurant menus, storefronts, and promotional offers. All of this makes Meituan-Dianping the ultimate social media in China for restaurants and other businesses in the Food and Beverage industry.
For More Information on Meituan Dianping check out this article below
Why is Meituan-Dianping is important to your business?
According to DMR, Dianping has 60 million reviews and 12 billion monthly page views. It has obviously become the largest local review service in China, with a strong focus on restaurants. With such impressive numbers, and it’s developed into a great channel for social media marketing in China
Meituan-Dianping’s users are typically white-collar urban people with money to spend. The site is still growing bigger due to economic development in China as disposable incomes have begun to increase and expectations for service quality have also increased.
Unlike other social media sites, Meituan-Dianping’s target users are older people between the age of 25lff and 35 in major and fast-growing cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
Their revenue comes from advertising and promotional fees for businesses and group buying services. Both services offer powerful location-based targeting which businesses can use to offer promotions to nearby users. You can read some examples of this here.
9. Jinri Toutiao: The Hottest News & Information & Entertainment Platform
- Devices With Toutiao Installed: 240 Million (Nov 2018)
- Daily Active Users: 120 Million (Sep 2017)
Toutiao is a news distribution app which focuses on providing all kinds of information using complex algorithms. The company has over 4,000 partners producing content daily. The AI will first analyze each user regarding their locations, click and browser history. Toutiao then recommends the best-fit articles and videos to users accordingly.
Toutiao adopts a different style of giving the news to people. Additionally, they provide short-videos, funny jokes, and featured articles to keep users entertained. The platform ensures each user’s experience to be personal and distinct. As of September 2018, Toutiao already had 120 million daily active users, spending 76 minutes on the app daily (comparing to 66 minutes on WeChat during the same period).
Over 85% of Toutiao users are young people from ages 18 to 30 years old. 37.8% of them are freelancers, self-employed or private company owners, concentrated in first or second-tier cities. Putting ads on Toutiao can have significant effects on brand awareness. If you’re in the media business you can develop a stronger presence in China through setting up an official account (Toutiao Hao). You can gain followers through constant updates and interactions on Toutiao, similar to how many businesses post content on The Medium.
Businesses can open publisher accounts called a Toutiaohao. Administration departments, media organizations, companies, and individual writers are all able to open this type of account which the Toutiao algorithm then distributes to relevant users. By 2016 there were already 350,000 Toutiaohao accounts.
Related Post: 3 Ultimate Reasons Why You Should Know China’s Toutiao
10. DouYin: The Short-video Platform Taking the World By Storm!
- Global Monthly Active Users: 500 Million (June 2018)
- China Monthly Active Users: 400 Million (Nov 2018)
- China Daily Active Users: 250 Million+ (June 2019)
- Average Time Spent Per Day: 52 minutes
Douyin has been making some huge waves in 2018, most noticeable is the fact that it is one of the first Chinese social media platforms to obtain popularity abroad. With its Western counterpart Tik Tok, Douyin has become a force to be reckoned with in the Chinese social media landscape. As of November 2018, the platform had 400 million monthly active users, 200 million daily active users and an average time spent on the app per user of 52 minutes per day!
Douyin allows users to create videos in response to challenges posted on the platform, the first one that went truly viral was “The Karma is a Bitch” challenge. The challenge was to transform from an ordinary image to a bad-ass or surprising one. Westerners regarded it as the “Chinese Transformation meme” on social media, bringing a brand-new trend globally. In fact, these amazing clips are mostly from China’s influential short-video platform: DouYin.
Businesses can use the platform to post advertisements and create content. This new content format has been giving brands troubles though as short video is not something most companies are familiar with. We expect brands to get better at creating short videos in 2019 (most likely with the help of some KOLS).
Given the surge in popularity on the platform, we expect this to be one of the most popular platforms for social media marketing in China going forward. For more information on Tik Tok and how to use it for business check out the blog below:
Runner Ups for the Top 10 Chinese Social Media Platforms! (2019 Update)
Momo: Tinder of China
- Monthly Active Users (MAU): 108 Million (Aug 2018)
- Average Daily Active Users (DAU): 16.8 Million (Sep 2018)
- Market Penetration Rate: 5.5% (Sep 2018)
What is Momo?
Momo is an instant messaging app and also the number one dating app in China. In fact, it is the third largest fully mobile app after WeChat and QQ with 81.1 million monthly active users, a stat from DMR. While it now faces competition from the more direct Tinder clone, Tantan, it remains the largest dating app in China, even going public on the NASDAQ in 2014!
The app allows users to connect with strangers based on interests and location.
Other than that, the company is trying to make the app more than just a dating site by launching a campaign to help homeless cats and dogs in China. They also offer mobile gaming and live-streaming, to improve the way users connect to each other on the app.
Why is Momo important for your business?
One of Momo’s biggest sources of revenue comes from advertising. They also launched a new advertising platform for offline retailers.
Advertisers can target customers through location-based services as well as standard targeting options based on interests, demographics, etc. For instance, when users are searching for their potential dates, advertisers can place an ad for a local bar or club with a discount offer on their result sites so as to attract customers to pay a visit.
Momo offers relatively advanced targeting for advertising, as users purposely populate their accounts with their interests and other relevant information to make themselves more attractive to other users. This makes advertising on Momo very powerful for businesses. It doesn’t offer much in terms of social media, but dating is a social activity, so this one makes the list!
Meitu: From the company behind Meipai (2019 Update)
- Registered Users: 455 Million (Apr 2018)
- Demographics: 81% Female (Apr 2018)
What is Meitu?
Meitu is an app that has been incredibly popular in China for years. It was one of the first apps to bring photo touch-ups to the masses. Users on Meitu simply uploaded their pictures and were able to airbrush/edit their pictures to make them appear more beautiful. Almost all the selfies you see in China now undergo this process. It also allows users to upload these photos directly to other social media platforms.
However, in a recent announcement Meitu has announced that it is going to focus more on the social aspects of Meitu, which has been in beta since May, and plans to expand its offerings and become a full-fledged social media platform. Marketers throughout China are eagerly awaiting for this platform to fully released as with its massive user base it has the potential to be one of the strongest platforms for social media marketing in China.
What happened to Meipai?
Meipai was a pioneer in live video streaming, however, when other companies began to join the fray they saw their market share shrink drastically. The biggest competitor to Meipai was Douyin. With a similar user base and its skyrocketing popularity, Meipai was unable to keep up. It attempted to implement a variety of new strategies to boost revenues and save the platform, but ultimately its user base has continued to shrink.
With its user base dropping from 157 million MAU to 98 Million in early 2018. Implementing the changes also resulted in several temporary shutdowns of the platform. All of the inconsistency and negative news resulted in both creators and users leaving the platform. Unfortunately, it seems like Meipai won’t be making a comeback as the company focuses its attention on Meitu.
Why is Meitu important for your business?
Meitu has 455 million monthly active users with 81% of them being female. Advertising on Meitu is great for brands that focus on female consumers and rely on visuals to promote their brands.
For businesses, Meitu does offer advertising options that brands can take advantage of. In terms of its social media features, it’s shaping up to be quite impressive as seen by this quote from Ejininsight. “Since it started a beta trial in May this year, core users have spent 25 minutes a day in the community, browsing an average of 75 images and opening the app more than eight times a day. The average daily active users rose by 29 percent when there were theme promotion events. These statistics show that Meitu users have a strong desire for social networking and stickiness to the platform.”
With the decline of Meipai and the successful beta of Meitu’s social features, this is one platform that those targeting females in China should certainly keep an eye on. With the launch of the new platform, businesses will be able to start on the platform with a level playing field, as brands will likely all have to start from square one. An interesting prospect for companies just getting started with social media marketing in China!
This is one platform we’ll be closely monitoring to determine how powerful it can be for business!
Kuaishou: The Short-video Platform For Life in China Outside Tier 1 Cities
Kuaishou was founded in 2011 by Hua Xu in Beijing. Kuaishou is one of the many short video sharing and live-streaming apps to gain popularity in 2019. Formerly a GIF-making app known as “GIF Kuaishou,” it transitions into video sharing website in late 2012. It received investment from a number of companies including Sequoia Capital, but its most recent funds came from Tencent in the form a 350 million RMB investment in March 2017.
As of November 2017, its registered users had already exceeded 700 million. Users on the platform create, view, and engage with short videos. As of its last reporting in December 2018 the platform had 150 million daily active users. In a study done by QuestMobile in February 2018, it was found that users spent an average of 63 minutes on the app. The videos are able to be played rapidly, keeping users engaged and constantly hungry for new content. Videos on the platform have a maximum length of 57 seconds, making them easy to watch on mobile and on the go.
As of December 2018, Kuaishou introduced a new feature, a game center, that allows users to play games within the same app, trying to pave their way into an all-in-one entertainment app like Wechat. The game, named ‘Tiao Tiao Qiu’ (跳跳球), was their first game being introduced, but they intend to release more in the future.
The platform is known for being used outside of China’s top tier cities, resulting in different types of content that can be found on other platforms. They recently landed themselves in hot water with the government after users began uploading videos promoting counterfeits and reform after being reported to have users uploading contents such as promoting counterfeits and glorifying the lives of pregnant teenagers.
This resulted in harsh statements from the government, with some even saying that their failure to curate their content and prevent this type of content from being posted to the platform “approaches a legal boundary.” Since then they’ve updated their algorithms to more closely monitor content.
Why is Kuaishou Important for Business?
The majority of users on Kuaishou are from tier-2 cities or below with a comparatively low educational level (high school or below). Kuaishou allows companies to approach a different audience, apart from those in China’s major cities (where most companies focus their marketing efforts.) This can help companies to expand their business in China in a place that likely has less competition.
Hearing the word ‘tier-2 or below’ brings a conservative impression to mind for most people, but many predict that these cities are predicted to be the primary driver of growth in the Chinese market going forward. With new infrastructure projects on the horizon and a populace getting more and more educated these areas to present a significant opportunity for businesses. As most of Kuaishou’s users live In these lower-tier cities, use of the platform can be an effective channel for social media marketing in China, especially for businesses targeting users outside first-tier cities.
For more on how important Tier-2 & 3 cities are becoming check out this article on marketing trends in China
Youku Tudou: The Former YouTube of China
- Registered Users: 580 Million (Oct 2018)
- Average Daily Active Users (DAU): 39.6 Million (Sep 2018)
- Average Visit Duration: 4 minutes 7 seconds (Dec 2018)
What is Youku Tudou?
Youku was previously the top video sharing app in China. For many years it was called the Chinese Youtube, which you can see from the name seems to be exactly what they were going for. However, in the last year or so Youku has started to fall behind its rivals. We’ll leave it in the top 10 for now, as it does still have brand recognition as one of the most popular video-sharing platforms in China and as the “Chinese Youtube”.
However, unlike Youtube, where user-generated content is king, Youku contains more professional content than individual user-generated content. Users can even stream or download movies and TV shows directly on Youku. It’s similar to what Youtube tried to do with its paid offering, Youtube Red.
Why is Youku important for your business?
Youku has 580 million active users, according to DMR Stats. It also claims to have over 800 million views on its videos per day! For that reason, it is an effective way for your business to reach its target audience if you’ve invested in video content.
Youku offers an online viewing analytics tool, which enables brands to identify their audience by providing users’ information such as demographics, location, browsing technology and language.
Youku offers many types of paid advertisements such as banner ads including (static and animated), text links, buttons, in-stream advertisements, branded viral videos, and pause ads. While Youku isn’t the right channel for everyone it’s still an effective tool for social media marketing in China.
As of 2019, Youku has lost its market position as the dominant force in online video. Tencent Video has taken the reigns. For more info Click Here
Industry-Specific Social Media Platforms
I’ll just give a quick run-down of some more topic-specific social media in China that are more niche, but could be incredibly useful considering the nature of your business. Advertising on all of these platforms is available in some shape or form whether it be through KOL promotion, standard banner ads, or plain-old organic outreach! For companies that work in a specific industry, these will be the ideal platforms for social media marketing in China.
Xueqiu (Snowball): Equity & Finance Social Media Network
Xueqiu is a platformed designed for investors to discuss and learn more about a range of different financial assets. The platform reported that it had 12 million monthly active users in July 2018 when it received investment from Ant Financial, Alibaba’s financial services arm. Considering the niche in which it operates it’s incredibly impressive that it’s been able to achieve these numbers.
Investors can examine data across the US, Hong Kong, and Chinese stock markets, along with several bonds, funds, trusts, and Bitcoin. Users can get up to date alerts, news bulletins, and price changes all within the platform itself. They can also follow other investors, communicate with them, and discuss investing strategies in large forums.
However, the platform does not offer broker services as of yet, but it plans to in the future. This would allow users to buy and trade stocks directly in the platform further increasing its attractiveness to individual and professional investors. Aside from equities and financial products, there is also a section devoted to real estate, where users discuss up and coming investment opportunities and trends in the real estate market. Many compare this platform to SeekingAlpha.
For those in the financial services or real estate industries, this is the ideal place to start social media marketing in China.
Related Article: What is Xueqiu? The Ultimate Chinese Financial Platform
Keep: The Home of Health and Fitness Enthusiasts!
Launched in February 2015, Keep is meant to act as a professional trainer. Its primary draw is that it offers a variety of training courses and videos that teach you how to work out anytime, anywhere. It also offers dedicated activity trackers where you can record your progress. The company behind Keep also sells hardware, including a smart treadmill to track and analyze your workouts. It even opened an offline gym in Beijing to further connect with users! It had over 100 million monthly active users in August 2017, but no updates on the user base have been released as of now (Jan 2019).
It’s also has a social, aspect, with which users can follow each other and share their progress. This can all be shared to other social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo. Technode states that “23% of Keep’s users live in China’s top 5 megacities — Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. 77% are under 35 years old.” Besides providing exercise videos, activity tracking, and tips, the app continues its reliance on social interaction by enabling users to share pictures and videos.
This is an ideal platform for businesses involved in the health, wellness, and physical fitness sectors to use for social media marketing in China.
Mafengwo: The One-stop Site for Things to do During Your Travels!
Mafengwo was launched in late 2010 and has since then acquired over 100 million active users. According to 2018 statistics, there are over 130 million registered users. The platform is available both as a webpage and an app. Users can go through the latest travel information, glance at Q&As and reviews, as well as book hotels, travel destinations and local tours.
Unlike Ctrip and the other OTAs, Mafengwo rose to popularity due to its social aspects, in that users can share information about their trips and post content for other users to discuss and up/downvote. Today Mafengwo hosts more than 1 million user-generated travel guides and has seen massive amounts of engagement on its content.
Chinese tourists travel in large tour groups organized by tour operators. However, in recent years a new type of Chinese tourist has begun to emerge, the free and independent tourist (FIT). In 2016, nearly 60% of outbound tourists booked trips independently. These tourists prefer to book on their own and decide their own itineraries. Mafengwo caters to this market as a source of information for these tourists.
Mafengwo has become the go-to platform for suggestions on travel and tourism, so those in the travel & tourism industry should certainly take note of its significance in influencing travelers decisions. For those in the tourism industry, this is the ideal platform for social media marketing in China. For paid advertising, it obviously makes sense to target the OTAs like Ctrip, Qunar, etc, but this is a platform where you can truly focus on building a brand.
Advertising is available on the platform, but as with almost any platform in China, KOL promotion on Mafengwo can go a long way. Seasoned travel experts with large followings on Mafengwo are often willing to collaborate with brands to promote their businesses. This method can be incredibly effective for reaching the elusive FIT demographic in China.
Unfortunately, Mafengwo got into some trouble with fake user-generated content (UGC) in 2018. They claim that it makes up only 3% of content on the platform, however, we’ll have to monitor this going forward. However, aside from these numbers, Mafengwo’s features make it an attractive platform for those in the travel industry to use for social media marketing in China. Nevertheless, it managed to raise another USD $250 million in its series F financing round led by Tencent holdings on May 21st, 2019. For more information check out our article on Mafengwo below.
Xiao Hong Shu (Little Red Book): Cross-Border E-Commerce for Females
Xiao Hong Shu is an e-commerce platform that also has many features commonly seen on social media networks. Users can post reviews, join in on discussions, and post their own content. Content on the platform tends to focus on product photos and shopping experiences, including shopping tips, deals, and experiences from their trips abroad.
Users can browse through lists of the most popular brands for a category, and through products on brands’ exclusive pages. They can share also share pictures of products that they have purchased, on a board that bears a strong resemblance to Pinterest, where other users can like and comments.
Aside from its social aspects, Xiao Hong Shu is an advanced e-commerce platform. The home page features items that have received the most shares. This allows users to dictate which items are featured on the home page and to direct trends.
KOLs on this platform can directly influence sales through the content that they generate, making this a very attractive platform for foreign luxury brands, with most of the larger ones already taking advantage of this advertising method.
For more on XiaoHongShu Check out the following blogs!
Related Article: How to Master XiaoHongShu: From A User’s Perspective
Douyu: The Twitch of China
Founded by Zhang Wenming in 2013 with headquarters in Wuhan, Douyu (斗鱼) is an online live-streaming platform designed for sharing and commentary on video games. It’s mainly for users to broadcast e-sports competitions, showcase strategies, and share content related to videos, similar to Twitch in the West.
Although gaming is the main focus of the platform, videos with content ranging from sports, variety shows and entertainment can also be found on the platform. Douyu is partnered with Tencent, after Tencent became its largest shareholder in March 2016. As one of the largest game publishers in China, this partnership between Douyu and Tencent clearly makes sense.
According to SimilarWeb, Douyu’s total visits reached 95.6 million in December 2018 with an average visit duration of around 8 minutes. As of September 2018, the platform had 7.6 million daily active users on the platform. The majority of the traffic to their website is from China at a rate of around 91.4%.
They have a detailed classification on live gaming and they include a lot of popular games on the platform, such as League of Legends (LOL) (英雄联盟), PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) (绝地求生), Honour of Kings (王者荣耀) etc.
The company also holds live e-sports competitions in the hopes of further developing the industry. E-sports is seen as an up and coming industry by analysts around the world, so we expect Douyu to continue to make waves in 2019. For more on Douyu & its rival Huya check out the blog below:
If you are looking to promote a new game in China, bringing it up on Douyu and working with Douyu influencers would be a great move for promotion. If you’re involved in the video game industry this is the would be one of the best platforms to start with for social media marketing in China.
Maimai: The Up & Coming Linkedin of China
Maimai (脉脉), which somehow means ‘connection’ in Chinese, is a China-based career and social-networking platform, similar to Linkedin in the West. It was founded in 2013 by Fan Lin with its headquarters in Beijing. Maimai achieve unicorn status (a valuation over 1 billion dollars) just this year and is planning to IPO in the United States in 2019.
On this platform, you can discuss and share different information about your career on their forum which can make your job search a lot easier, and at the same time help you build a larger network. The platform claimed to have a registered user base of 30 million in November 2017 & a monthly active user base of 10 million. While these numbers seem a bit on the small side compared to other platforms covered above, this is a platform catered specifically to professionals making it a bit more niche. Users of Maimai can easily find potential investors for their business on this platform as well.
This platform has huge potential for social media marketing in China. Odds are if your business has had success using Linkedin for marketing than this could offer similar results. By using this social media platform, you can find your potential Chinese employees as well as customers for your business. This platform is especially useful for those who sell services rather than products. While it’s still growing we anticipate this will be a great tool for social media marketing in China going forward.
Conclusion: Top Social Media In China
These 10 Chinese social media sites above were the hottest ones in 2018. There are tons of other social media platforms that might be more suitable to reach your target audience that we haven’t mentioned in this article, so be sure to do your research and find the platform that makes sense for you. Social media marketing in China can be difficult and there are significant barriers to entry, but given the size of the market it will pay off in the end.
I hope this helped you to understand how each of these Chinese social media sites works and what differentiates them from one another.
Dragon Social is a China Digital Marketing Agency dedicated to providing expert solutions to businesses around the world! Our team of professionals will take a deep dive into your business and determine the optimal channels and strategies for promoting your business in China, so be sure to contact us for a free consultation!
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