No Facebook. No Twitter. What’s the alternative?
CIC was the first company specializing in social media research in China and is now part of the Kantar Media group, ‘Tina Hu’ a Senior Director from CIC came to visit Added Value UK to educate and explain the impact of social media in China, how it differs from Western social media and how brands are adapting to fit into the Chinese online culture.
China’s internet users have hit 513 million, which accounts to 23.3% of users worldwide*. With such an enormous stake in the market, which is growing rapidly, it’s a big space for global brands to advertise, communicate and understand the latest cultural Chinese trends. But with a difference. China has no access to Facebook or Twitter, the top two social media platforms which are used widely across the world. The lie of the land in Chinese social media is highly fragmented. There is no ‘winner takes all’ in this market.
But don’t be surprised by the level of engagement of social media among Chinese citizens. These are the consumers who spend 18.7 hours per week online, 70% of whom are mobile internet users. Don’t be surprised when you visit a Chinese restaurant in an average Chinese city and notice that diners bring out their mobile phones for pictures first before they dig into their food. Mostly because they want to post the pictures online, not on Twitter or Facebook, but on a microblogging platform called ‘Weibo’ (which means microblog(ging) in Chinese language), where 100 million tweets are generated on daily basis.
The rise of Weibo goes far beyond skyrocketing growth in number of users and daily time spent. Yes it beats Facebook and Twitter in the time it took to reach 100 million users – 1.5 years for Sina Weibo, the most vibrant and major Weibo player in China. It now claims registered users of 300 million since it was born late 2009. Weibo users are a much more involved cohort as they typically spend 22 minutes per day on this platform, 3 times that of Twitter users on Twitter. Therefore not surprising that less hours are spent on TV than before.
Chinese consumers now feel that they are empowered to participate in this two way conversation with brands and institutions much more than ever before. 7 out of 10 public crises in China originated from Weibo in 2011. The Wenzhou train crash and China Red Cross scandal, both of which broke out on Weibo, have transformed the way the Chinese public involves in their community life.
Marketers who just established official presence of their brands on Weibo will find themselves competing for attention against 130,000 brands and organizations. Nearly 30% of the Fortune 500 companies have already opened a corporate Weibo account. To be or not to be? It’s out of the question.
So what’s the next big thing? That I’m not sure. But one thing for sure – in the last week of March, top management of Facebook, Apple, Nokia and Cisco all showed up in China. The war of Chinese social media has just begun.
*(Source: CNNIC, Dec 2011)
(Image source: CIC & Weibo.com)
Take a read of CIC’s papers: CIC’s joint white paper with Ogilvy on crisis management in Weibo era and CIC’s joint white paper with Sina Weibo on corporate Weibo.