Last Updated 1 year by Emily Standley-Allard
When brands think of social media, they envision building connections with the audience around them. But social media apps have become quite the global sensation, giving brands more ways to grow their presence across borders. With the rise in Chinese social media, companies have more opportunities than ever to expand their reach.
Similar to its Western counterparts, Chinese social media spans a range of features and purposes. From instant messaging apps to microblogging to discussions and business reviews, brands have an easy “in” into the Chinese market. Plus, all those social media apps mean more paid advertising options! The challenge for brands is knowing which platforms to tap into for their social media publishing or social listening strategy.
Let’s look at the top seven Chinese social media apps, sites, and platforms that you should consider adding to your social marketing strategy in 2022.
All images by pixabay.com.
Social Media Use in China by the Numbers
Before we dive into the most popular Chinese social media sites, it’s worth asking: just how big is Chinese social media?
Let’s start with the fact that many of the USA’s popular social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Google, and YouTube are blocked from Chinese servers.
For those in the Chinese market to enjoy social media, they basically had to create their own networks.
- User statistics show there are nearly 926.8 million social media users in China as of 2020. That ultimately makes China the largest consumer of social media sites in the world. Also, the number of active users is expected to rise to 1.279 billion by 2026.
- The average user spends about 117 minutes per day on Chinese social media sites. For comparison, that’s a bit less than the average here in the U.S. (which is about 142 minutes per day).
- About 88% of Chinese social media users are active on more than one platform.
- They’re highly mobile, too, with 95% of users accessing social media via their mobile devices.
- 70% of social media users in China are between the ages of 18 and 35, while the split between male and female users is almost equal (skewing slightly toward the male side).
There’s no doubt social media has seen explosive growth in China in the last few years. And despite the “Great Firewall” that blocks Chinese users from many American social media platforms, USA brands can access top Chinese social media platforms with relative ease.
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How People in China Use Social Media
Chinese social media trends and usage are drastically different compared to their Western counterparts. For starters, China’s social media audience is large enough for companies and brands to carve out a following that may be as large as entire countries elsewhere.
There’s also a ton of diversification between the top Chinese social media sites. For example, there may be as many as 10 popular social video sites, but each one caters to a very specific audience.
There are also tons of communication-focused apps, including WeChat, QQ, and MOMO. Each of these has earned its place in the Chinese social media scene.
Many of the popular Chinese social media options take a multipurpose format. WeChat, for instance, is a top choice for messaging, e-commerce, live streaming, playing games with friends, reserving a taxi, and a myriad of other tasks.
Users can also download mini-programs (kind of like apps) that run inside the larger WeChat ecosystem.
Of course, this also means that competition is fierce in the Chinese social market. With so many apps and more than three times the user base compared to the USA, brands will need no shortage of creativity to make an impact.
8 Most Popular Social Media Apps in China
Narrowing down the top Chinese social media apps is no easy feat. There are tons of apps that cater to very specific audiences and do very specific things. And they’re all part of the bigger social media umbrella. But when you can’t be everywhere and need to choose only the best opportunities, a short list of Chinese social media apps can come in handy.
Here’s our list of Chinese social media apps you’ll want to explore:
1. Sina Weibo
4. Tencent QQ
5. Baidu Tieba
6. Tencent Video
8. Little Red Book
1. Sina Weibo
Weibo is among the most popular Chinese social media apps, with more than 573 million monthly active users. Owned by Sina Corporation and sometimes referred to as the Twitter of China, Weibo is a Twitter-like microblogging platform.
However, calling Weibo the “Twitter of China” isn’t exactly accurate. Chinese social media Weibo users have a 140-character limit on posts and can include images and emojis in their content. You can also tag other users, hold one-to-one conversations, create Stories (kind of like Instagram Stories), and add hashtags.
Keep your finger on the pulse by monitoring what Chinese consumers are saying about your brand, products and competitors with social listening.
Another popular Chinese social media app, WeChat is probably one of the most recognizable names in the Western world. This jack-of-all-trades all-in-one super-app gives users and brands tons of unique functions and features, making it a must for social media marketing.
It’s a ride-hailing app. It’s a direct messaging channel. It’s an e-commerce platform. It’s a place for video chats, ticket sales, and so much more. No matter your target audience, you’re likely to find them on WeChat.
Like many other social media apps, WeChat is free to use. However, signing up for an account isn’t so simple. To create your account, you’ll need to find an existing user and scan a QR code they provide to you.
From a business perspective, using Weibo compared to platforms like Baidu and Tencent Weibo makes financial sense. Weibo has a 56% user share of China’s microblogging market, and that figure increases to more than 86% when accounting for on-page time.
3. TikTok (aka Douyin)
Here’s a name you’ll probably recognize if you live outside of China – TikTok. The Chinese version is called Douyin, but if you’re outside of China, you’ll use TikTok.
This social network quickly shot to fame in the USA with its short videos, quirky dances, and loads of easy-to-use video editing features. It’s one of the biggest Chinese social media platforms to date, with more than one billion monthly active users around the world.
This platform thrives on short-form, user-generated video content, often accompanied by music and/or lip-syncing. Despite hailing from China, TikTok offers tons of English-language content and caters to more than 75 languages in 150 countries. Users are mostly Gen-Z and Millennial individuals and has spurred thousands of self-created influencers.
4. Tencent QQ
Another micro-blogging site on our Chinese social media list, QQ is owned by Tencent and is similar in function to WeChat. However, a key difference is its signup process – you don’t need to register with a phone number.
What’s more, you can also use QQ as a desktop application, making it more palatable for business professionals.
5. Baidu Tieba
China’s largest search engine, Baidu, has its own social network named Baidu Tieba.
While it might not be well known in Western countries, Baidu Tieba is actually older than Facebook. Its total number of registered internet users has surpassed 1.5 billion, making it a top network for brands to consider.
Since Baidu Tieba has the backing of the search engine Baidu, its content ranks extremely well in search. It’s ideal for keyword-based content, as well as question-and-answer content and interactive content.
6. Tencent Video
Another video-sharing Chinese social media platform, Tencent Video boasts more than 112 million subscribers under its premium offer.
It recently overtook its once-stalwart competitor, Alibaba Youku, and now sees more than 400 million monthly active users in China.
However, the platform has endured a tumultuous relationship with the Chinese government.
It remains under constant surveillance and has experienced its share of censorship.
Zhihu is a question-and-answer social media site. It’s similar to Quora in that questions are posted, answered, and edited by members of its community.
Users of Zhihu include entrepreneurs, speakers, and other professionals who aim to showcase their expertise in various subject matters. It’s aimed at Chinese netizens and marketed as a source of knowledge.
Users can upvote answers they think are the best, which helps those answers (and the users that provided them) gain more exposure.
Zhihu offers two levels of paid membership, both of which give users access to tons of webinars, e-books, and other content.
8. Little Red Book
Our list of Chinese social media channels wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Little Red Book. Originally built as a platform for user-generated content, Little Red Book has now become a primary source of information when buying decisions are at stake.
Most Little Red Book users live in first-tier cities (sprawling metros like Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Beijing). Its 450 million users post an average of 450,000 times each day. It’s more sales-oriented in that many of its users are actively searching for new products and brands.
Overall, content on Little Red Book appears more trustworthy and has become an ideal place to grow brand awareness and word-of-mouth marketing among Chinese consumers.
Thinking about using social media in your marketing strategy?
There’s a wealth of opportunity, and Meltwater can help. They monitor your presence across all social networks to help you grow and manage your brand’s presence.
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