Chinese social media growth shows no signs of slowing down. It has been embraced by the Chinese of almost all walks of life despite the new government requirement to have a verified identity associated with a microblogging account. In fact, the March 16th 2013 deadline for microblog users to have their identities verified by the state, seemed not to bother an average Chinese too much. One of the reasons, perhaps, was the fact that the vast majority of China’s microbloggers aren’t focused on the current events to the same degree as Twitter users do. In fact, the main purpose of Chinese social media has remained true to what it was originally designed for – connecting with others. Thomas Crampton, Ogilvy and Mather Asia-Pacific social media expert, notes the following: “[Chinese people’s] top priority is to connect with other Chinese online. The internet has opened access to information for ordinary Chinese citizens in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. Coming from a world where information was pre-filtered by editors at state-run media, China’s internet is freewheeling by comparison.” It is estimated that the number of China’s social media users has reached 600 million, almost double the entire US population! Well over half of young people in major cities, such as Shanghai, Beijing or Shenzhen, use Sina or Tancent Weibo. In smaller population centers at least one third do the same. So, what do Chinese retweet or follow the most? Entertainment news, jokes and fashion are by far the most popular topics. Contrast it with Twitter’s current events and news being the most shared content and you can figure out why Sina Weibo is hugely profitable while Twitter still isn’t. And here is some good news for marketers from an excellent presentation I found on ShareSlide by WeAreSocial:
Overall, Sina Weibo approach in particular seems to be based around a solid revenue model which supports most users preferences and behaviour. This helps explain investors’ enthusiasm over their stock. Either way, it is time for Western marketers to embrace these powerful platforms because not only they are not going anywhere but they are quickly becoming the most effective way to reach your Chinese customers.