Social media in China cannot be compared to the West – the platforms, tools and online rules are drastically different creating an entirely unique medium. So how does one make the leap from social media in the West to China’s social media? They don’t. If you are an expert in one, that does not make you an expert in the other. Partnering with someone who knows the local market is key to successfully crossing borders in this realm.

One thing that is consistent with the West; social media is fast becoming a staple of everyday life, and the Chinese are at the forefront of embracing it. McKinsey found that 91 percent of respondents said they visited a social media site in the previous six months- compared with 30 percent in Japan, 67 percent in the United States, and 70 percent in South Korea. While Twitter and Facebook are banned in China, other platforms are keeping this country at the top of the social interaction list.

Social media breakdown:

Sina Weibo
— More than the “Chinese Twitter”. It has over double the users of Twitter and is the leader in social media in China. Users can share short messages, photos and videos in posts. Today it’s the top Chinese platform for social issues and also a big driver for consumer activity.

Renren— Most often compared to Facebook. Currently a necessity among students and young working professionals. Focused on social sharing and online gaming.


Tencent-– The backbone of Tencent is the QQ instant messaging service but the site offers a complete social media hub. Search, sharing, profiles, games and more all reside in sync with the Tencent owned social site called Pengyou. Although Pengyou is less popular than Renren and Kaixin in terms of usage, due to the various platforms if offers it has the largest online social community.

WeChat— Mobile is exploding in China and at the forefront is WeChat (formerly Weixin). Mostly used for free instant messaging, group chats and video calls (think Viber or Wassap). This is a pioneering mobile social app and although it doesn’t have all the features of a traditional social network, it is fast catching up, recently having added a photo and video sharing component as well as location based services to start building a community.