China: Home of the Social (Media) Butterflies

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Having a blog is a popular these days,  but if you live in China, you’re probably about FIVE times more likely to have your own blog than if you lived in the US!

Some may even argue that the people of China seem to be obsessively engaged in regular participation in online conversation. 

  • 105 million Chinese broadband users communicate via forums/discussion boards
  • Over 40% of China’s online users can be categorized as creators, contributors, critics and commentators… compared to only about 14-16 percent of online users in the US.
  • 41 million Chinese participate in six or more regular online activities and connect with at least 84 people on a “one to many” basis in a typical week.

What’s most interesting is the difference between how Chinese internet users and American internet users spend their time online. While the typical American internet user focuses their online time on e-commerce shopping, booking travel arrangements, e-banking and other commerce-related activities and transactions….the typical Chinese Internet user is likely to be visiting entertainment sites, downloading online music, playing video games and chatting…..while instant messaging AND blogging at the same time!:)

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The typical Chinese internet user is using the internet and SNS more for the mere purpose of fun and entertainment than for financial purposes.  In fact, their financial lives aren’t nearly as dependent on the Internet as those users in the U.S.

Sure, unlike American internet usage, China’s Internet usage is largely censored–making China among the top ten worst countries to be a blogger, however, the typical Chinese users aren’t as concerned about the censorship as Americans would be or assume they should be. In fact, it has been reported that Chinese users approve of the government’s management of the Internet.  Some speculate that Chinese bloggers disconcern of censorship is bred out of their industrious ability to “get around” the controls wish seek to control them.   

At any case, despite their censorship laws, China’s internet penetration rate had surpassed the global average by 2008 according to the China Internet Network Information Center’s latest report and their rate of online social engagement and “citizen journalism” still remains higher in China than in the United States and Europe.   

Currently, 24% of all Chinese broadband users are involved in social networking and social networking sites were found to be influential in 20 percent of Chinese internet users’ purchase decisions.

Although the competiton is fierce competition between many Chinese local SNS such as 51.com and Kaixin and the global leaders such as Facebook and MySpace… I do recommend a brand looking to use social media to appeal to a youthful and online engaged audience in China to partner with an pre-existing existing and wildly popular social network provider such as  Xiaonei.com.  Xiaonei, nicknamed the “Facebook of China” is the biggest network for students, with over 22 million active users between the ages of 18 and 25 that from more than 3,000 universities.  IM’ing, video blogging, online gaming and internet cafes are all other Web 2.0 supportive platforms which are also appear to be vastly popular among the Chinese.  Brands should look to effectively appeal to Chinese audiences through the use of all of these social media measures.

Check out this video which explains an overall view of the digital culture in China:

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2 Responses to China: Home of the Social (Media) Butterflies

  1. You seem to have done some good research behind all the facts and figures in this post – unfortunately, we miss most of it as you have many claims in this post where you don’t offer the link behind it so we can’t get more context or see where you are pulling your information from. As it is, the post also stays on the surface of sharing some interesting facts and figures about China and social media, but doesn’t dig deeper into some interesting points that your post raises. For example, why the big difference in popularity of usage for online music? Offering some thoughts on these points could have helped you get deeper into the “why” of some of the stats you share. (3)

  2. maurice09 says:

    I enjoyed the statistics and listings on the different Internet users’ patterns of Americans and Chines. One reason for the low rate of e-commerce in China, as I stumbled upon my research, is the low credit card penetration in China. But I never imagined Internet patterns that differently.
    You also mentioned that only 24% of all Chinese Internet users are involved in social media. I think that is stunning, as we know China is the largest Internet market in the world (defined by the number of Onliners). As I believe, the main reason for this is the Chinese Fire Wall. However, there is an enormous growth potential – if there wasn’t censorship. And maybe social media will cause “a more democratic China” in the nearer future. -Moritz

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