China is the world's largest social media market with highly engaged and mobile-savvy users. Its market composition varies considerably from the rest of the world. Due to the “Great Firewall” of China, as the Chinese government’s internet censorship project is commonly called, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other leading international social media players, are all blocked in the country. However, the Chinese social media market is not incomparable with its western counterparts. China’s mediascape in terms of social networking almost mirrors that of the rest of the world except that each of these sites is a domestically engineered platform.
Who are the social media giants in China?
Compared to a few major players dominating the western market, China has a more dynamic, diverse, and competitive social media landscape, despite under speech censorship, with platforms rising and falling on a faster timescale. Thanks to its versatile functionality, Tencent’s WeChat has remained as the most popular social networking space. It is a super version of Facebook with ride-hailing, food delivery, mobile payment, and other services all in one app. Owing to its huge userbase, marketing and e-commerce have been thriving on WeChat.
When it comes to microblogging, Chinese users have their local version of Twitter - Sina Weibo, with 140 to two thousand Chinese characters allowing in one post. It has been used extensively as a space for free-speech with a significant amount of online users. Other prominent Chinese social media platforms include: Youku Tudou (equivalent of YouTube), Douyin (aka TikTok), Baidu Tieba (a search engine forum), Zhihu (the Quora of China), Red (a cross-border e-commerce community), Meitu (the Chinese alternative to Instagram), and Meituan-Dianping (the Chinese Yelp and Groupon).
What are the significant trends?
Many Chinese social networking sites have copied the successful recipe from WeChat and developed their all-rounded entertainment ecosystems with extra services like e-commerce, streaming, and gaming. Furthermore, the adoption of artificial intelligence has been rising. Facial recognition, hyper-personalization, and augmented reality will be used more often in social media platforms. In terms of content format, apart from short videos, live streaming has become the norm in Chinese social media. Huya, YY Live, and Douyu Live are the early beneficiaries in this market trend in rural China, where fewer entertainment options are available for young people.
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