In common with the rest of the world, China’s social media market is confusing, diverse, ever changing and shifting at a speed which most organisations find it difficult to match. The Great Firewall of China keeps the ‘western’ social media behemoths firmly away from Chinese Netizens and so the landscape is less familiar to markets in Australia and New Zealand and is dominated by local networks owned and managed by the major Chinese tech players.
Whilst Weibo is arguably the best known of the Chinese social networks, the biggest of which is Sina Weibo (Weibo being the generic term for micro blogging) WeChat from Tencent is both the largest and fastest growing of the major social networks.
As of September, 570 million people use WeChat every day and penetration rates in all of China’s top tier cities, or those with a population exceeding 10 million people, exceeds 90% in all cases.
For an app with humble messaging beginnings in 2010, WeChat has grown exponentially in terms of both user numbers and function, a key area in which Chinese social networks differ from their US alternatives. In addition to messaging, WeChat extended its capability into news and links, high-quality video and audio chat through into gaming. From there, apps were developed which pushed WeChat’s capabilities into ecommerce, mobile payment systems, banking and transport.
WeChat has applications, used billions of times a year, which rival Uber, Paypal, Apple Pay and others, by stretching the technical capability and brand equity of the original platform to take advantage of the digital disruption of traditional business models, quickly, simply and at incredible scale.
Title Image by Peter McGahan