Introduction to China’s social media landscape

11 of the most popular Chinese social media platforms

There is a common misconception, especially amongst communications and marketing experts, that China’s social media landscape is limited by the censorship laws that prohibit citizens from participating in the most popular global social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many Google apps.

But those assumptions are not really accurate. In fact, China has created its own unique social media landscape that enjoys enormous usage among hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens, of all ages.

An overview of the 11 most popular social media platforms in China is below.

What makes China’s platforms so popular?

Many of its platforms go beyond simply sharing photos with friends, updating statuses and pressing a ‘like’ button. Some of the most popular social channels are replacing traditional mobile phones and changing how Chinese people communicate on daily basis, both for personal and business.

In rural regions of China, where telecommunications is restricted, these social media platforms allow people without phones to stay connected.

According to Statista, one of the world’s leading statistics companies, more than 61% of social media users in China don’t reveal their true identity on most platforms. This is unlike Facebook, which only allows accounts to be opened using a person’s real name and requires verification.

According to Michael Anti, a Chinese journalist and political blogger, “in a culture that values privacy, being able to use an online alias has been a key factor in the rapid rise in social media platforms and uptake.”

What’s next for China’s social media landscape?

The rise of social media platforms, not only in China, but also around the world, has been staggering.

While China continues to block platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, the rise in the number of users on Chinese social media networks showcases the need for voices to be heard and people to be connected.

China’s social media landscape may seem impenetrable to the outside. However, once inside, one sees a well-oiled machine that allows its citizens to enjoy all of the benefits social media that the rest of the world enjoys, but under the careful eye of its government. China hasn’t left its citizens without social media. Rather it’s copied the best ones.

And many brands, especially luxury brands in China have begun to capitalize on the popularity of these social media channels. Major luxury brands such as Chanel, Lancôme, Dior and others have used these platforms to tap into China’s appetite for goods and services.

11 of the most popular social media platforms in China

1.TENCENT QQ is an instant messaging platform that is similar to Sina Weibo in terms of functionality and user demographics. Popularly known as QQ, it also has a variety of services including online social games, music, shopping, and micro-blogging. QQ has approximately 830 million users.

2. QZone is a social networking website that allows users to share and engage with blogs, photos, videos, and music. With approximately 150 million of its 755 million users updating their accounts at least once a month, Qzone is one of the most active online communities in the world.

3.Sina Weibo, commonly referred to as Weibo, is a mobile-focused micro-blogging platform with functionalities that are best described as a hybrid between Twitter and Facebook. Celebrities, brands, and key opinion leaders often leverage Weibo. This platform now provides some analytics information which companies can leverage to measure ROI. Sina Weibo has over 800 million monthly active users.

3.YouKu Tudou is a video hosting service based in Beijing, recently taken over by e-commerce giant Alibaba. The online platform is considered China’s YouTube, and allows users to stream, share, and view videos. YouKu has 580 million monthly active users, with 800 million daily video views.

4.WeChat is China’s fastest growing mobile text and voice messaging communication service, and one of the largest standalone messaging apps with over 650 million active users. Users can register as verified public accounts that enable them to push feeds and interact with subscribers. Users are also able to share content in a similar way to Facebook.

5. Pengyou is a social networking platform developed by the founders of Tencent QQ and QZone. Pengyou users must use their real identities to meet and socialize with other users through profile browsing, friend suggestions, shared interests, and games. Pengyou has over 200 million users.

6. is a social platform for Chinese web-based gaming and building gaming communities. This platform has 200 million users.

7. RenRen enables users to connect and engage with friends via news, photo and video sharing. Renren predominantly caters to university students, with the key information required being one’s education details and hometown. Popularity of the platform has declined in recent years due to the rise of Sina Weibo and WeChat. RenRen has approximately 195 million users.

8. Jiayuan is China’s largest online dating website with over 40 million profiles and approximately 4.7 million monthly active users. Unlike its competitors, Jiayuan is designed to help singles find marriage, and discourages its membrs from pursuing short term relationships.

9. Kaixin001 provides users with basic social networking tools such as blogging, photo sharing, and games. In 2010, Renren’s parent company Oak Pacific Interactive announced that it would intergrate Renren and Kaixin. Kaixin001 has 113 million users.

10.Douban is considered China’s Myspace, and is popular with communities networking around specific areas of interest such as music, books, films, and other hobbies. Douban has over 100 million users.

About Icon China

Icon is one of Australia’s most awarded independent PR agencies. We service a mix of corporate, government and start-up clients who share our commitment to creativity and innovation. We combine PR, brand, social and digital media to connect businesses with consumers — and create conversations around brands.

Launched in January 2015 as a dedicated offering of Icon, Icon China also connects Chinese companies looking to enter or expand in the Australian market.

Icon China uses its expertise in public relations, digital, and creative services to provide the essential cross-border capabilities required for Australian companies seeking to enter the Chinese market and for Chinese companies wanting to thrive in Australia with best-in-class partners on the ground.

Icon China offers culturally attuned communications including understanding the uniqueness of media landscapes, cultural nuances, interpretation of non-native concepts, the distinctiveness of consumers and their consumption habits.

With a dedicated team of highly experienced digital marketing and public relations professionals, Icon China’s point of difference is its lingual capabilities and the Asia Pacific experience of our team. The Icon China team is trilingual — Mandarin, Cantonese and English and highly experienced digital marketing and public relations professionals.

Icon China’s services include:

  • Developing client-specific industry insights into the Chinese market
  • Market entry strategy development
  • Social media strategy to reach Chinese audiences
  • Product development and testing
  • Consumer focus groups
  • Social media strategy and campaigns
  • Social influencing and ambassador management
  • Visual identity
  • Brand guidelines
  • Graphic design and production
  • Collateral development
  • Media relations targeting Chinese speakers in Australia and vice versa
  • Internal communications
  • Campaigns and events
  • Translation of materials in English-Chinese

To find out more visit and follow us on Twitter at @icon_china

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