Exploring Chinese Social Media

As a Global Social Media Manager I have to know about digital marketing sites around the world, even if I am not directly responsible for managing them. One of the huge headaches most social media managers will encounter begins when Exploring Chinese Social Media Networks. They are difficult because they predominantly use different networks and of course there is the language barrier for non-Chinese speaking media managers. Let’s take a look…

Why Are They Different?

Chinese social media users have their own set of social media networks and predominantly do not use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. More than 2,700 websites are blocked in mainland China under the government’s internet censorship policy, amongst these are our main social media networks, in fact, Facebook has reported that its market share in China is practically zero! The Chinese government has also passed a law stating that people who post “inaccurate” statements that have more than 500 shares, could be sent to prison…. WOW!

Other popular sites that are blocked include Gmail, Instagram, WordPress and Bing to name a few. Whilst users in Hong Kong are able to access most sites, the remaining 641,607,000+ internet users in China are left with two options:

  1. Use IP changers to access the main networks
  2. Use approved Chinese social media networking sites

Some Chinese Social Media Stats

  • China has 641,607,000+ internet users
  • 57% of Chinese social media users are male
  • 91% of Chinese internet users have a social media account
  • Only 38% of social media users in China use their real name online
  • 46 minutes per day is spent on social media sites on average in China

So then, assuming internet users are not accessing mainstream social media sites via a proxy, which Chinese Social Media Sites are popular?


Pengyou has nearly 300 million users and means “Friend” in Chinese. A Facebook like social network, users can add connections and follow brands.


Kaixin is a bit like Facebook and has over 113 million users. The main market of this social media site is professionals aged 35+.


WeChat is a mobile app which has around 300 million users, strangely 100 million of them are located outside China! It’s similar to Whatsapp but actually combines more features. Despite being a messenger service and not a social network, most big brands have accounts there.


RenRen was originally called Xiaonei and is a student favoured social media site in China. Its name means campus and it has in excess of 200 million users.


By far the most popular Chinese social media site, Sina Weibo has 280 million active users! Offering video, chat, photos in Timelines it rivals Facebook for the Chinese market.  Censorship has recently curbed its popularity though, with 10% of its users reportedly closing their accounts in the last year.


Tencent Weibo is the main competitor of Sina Weibo and is the 3rd most popular social media network in China. Its 500 million + users love its instant messaging service QQ.


QZone is China’s version of MySpace… remember MySpace? It allows users to keep diaries, blog and share photos. QZone is owned by Tencent so this one links to QQ.  QZone is the 2nd most popular social network in China.

I will be returning to the subject of Chinese social media networks in the near future to discuss ways in which you can convey your brand messages.

Did you enjoy my article? Tweet me @charli_says or let me know your own experiences of social media marketing in China.