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Social Media In China - What's Going On?

So does China have Facebook?

Social media is without doubt growing by the day. It is a massive part of most people’s everyday life, with contact becoming easier through the form of social networking. Another powerhouse that keeps on growing is China. Being the world’s most populous country, it should come to no surprise, and a McKinsey survey of 5,700 internet users in China found that 95 percent of them who live in Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 cities are signed up to a social media site.

social media in China
Source: blastradius.com

The country has the most active social media population, with 91 percent of respondents declaring that they visited a social media site in the previous six months. This is compared with 30 percent in Japan, 67 percent in the USA, and 70 percent in South Korea.

Chinese social media has a greater influence on purchasing decisions compared to the other countries. This has pushed the country into being more of a capitalist state, and Chinese consumers say they are more likely to consider buying a product if they see it discussed in a positive manner on a social media platform. In addition, if a friend on a social media site recommends a product, then Chinese consumers will be more likely to make a purchase. Culturally this has background, as Chinese consumers tend to value more personal recommendations due to their skepticism of formal institutions.

Generally, Chinese consumers access the internet through personal computers, but they are quickly making the transition to mobile devices. Around 50 percent of mobile phone users in the survey mentioned said they were planning to buy a smartphone within the next six months. In addition, 35 percent said they own a tablet device.

Outside "The Great Firewall of China," in the Western world, Facebook and Twitter dominate in the social media spectrum, but the Chinese do not have access to these sites. The alternative Chinese social networks which are most popular are Qzone, Sina Weibo and Renren. Through these sites, there is a clear split in social class, as consumers who favour Sina Weibo tend to be in higher income brackets, earning more than 8.000 renminbi (about $1,300) a month, and are more likely to live in Tier 1 cities.

social media in China
Source: thomascrampton.com

Despite the Western world not being familiar with these sites, the home-grown, state-approved equivalents are rapidly expanding. It is easy to see why there has been such a boom in the social media world in China, as there has been a massive rural-to-urban migration that has separated families (imagine social media during the industrial revolution), and the loneliness of a one-child generation, and a distrust of information from government-controlled media.

This represents both the good and bad for China’s society, and maybe spells a prosperous financial era for the Chinese, but with consequences also. The Chinese economy is currently a strong position, but with the concerns outlined above, and the movement towards being a fully-fledged capitalist society, the change could be too much for some sections of society. With the art of communication made easier, it would be beneficial for Chinese citizens to air concerns online about the government, and their media policies, as well as a generation of children seeking peers and developing communication skills that may have been evaded due to the single-child policy.

Despite the concerns being displayed on social media platforms, the rise in activity on these sites has been a good thing for the sovereign nation. It has made them contemporary, and they have the economy to back this up. At present, the Chinese are the model that the USA and UK aspire to be.


Alex is an English Literature and Sociology undergraduate whose love for written word has led him to write about some obscure topics in his time. Currently a content writer at Social Media Frontiers, be sure to follow him @AlexSatSMF.

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Social Media In China - What's Going On? Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 Rating: 5
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