The Great Social Media of China
No Facebook or Youtube, Just Weibo and Wechat?
Most of us are aware now that the ‘Great Firewall of China” blocks out social networking sites such as Facebook and Youtube (which many of us couldn’t imagine a world without). So, if Chinese aren’t using these, what social media are they using and are they as infatuated with it as we are?
The short answer to that question is ‘yes’ – the Chinese are at least as much if not many times more infatuated with social media as we are in the west. As a matter of fact, the first question you will usually here from a Chinese traveller upon arrival will be ”is there free WIFI?’
Let us go back a little, to Weibo and Youku. You can think of Weibo as the Chinese version of twitter or facebook. A user can blog using photos and text, subscribe to accounts, follow others, scroll the home page for days – you get the picture. Youku, on the other hand, is basically Chinese Youtube and is used for video sharing.
Weibo was HUGE, and amassed a massive number of users. However, such is the speed of change in China, it has already been superseded by an absolute giant of social media. Wechat. Wechat works on a ‘Whatsapp’ principle (and the logo even is a little similar – coincidence, maybe?) of using WIFI to message and text, however it has many functions which make it very appealing. Think of Wechat as a combination of every kind of social media app we have. It has already eclipsed the 350 million user mark.
Companies even use ‘public wechat profiles’ which are basically like mini – websites. These public profiles are not easy for Australian companies to get a hold of, as they need to be registered in China so that content can be monitored (of course). Also, believe it or not, but wechat QR codes are being used to make payments when shopping, acting as a credit card of sorts!
Personally, I was in denial about needing Wechat until I heard a Chinese friend tell me frankly: ‘No Wechat, No Business,’ so I uploaded it immediately. Since then, I have realised just how much it is used in doing business in China. If you do business with China and don’t have it, I suggest you download and English version of Wechat yourself from the app store.
Just be careful… Once you get started, you may get a Wechat addiction too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mitchell Callander is a freelance Chinese marketing consultant specializing in the Asian markets, specifically China, Japan, Korea and India. He speaks fluent mandarin, conversational Japanese and is developing an online social media based channel completely in mandarin, called Strange Rice TV.