Chinese websites and their endless opportunities.

Stats & Facts on Chinese Websites and Users

The number of internet users in China — already the world’s highest — reached 731 million in December 2016. That was a rise of 6.2% total internet users from the end of December 2015 and equals the entire population of Europe!

With a staggering 695 million mobile users, or 95.1% of total internet users, in China typically spending 25 hours a week connected to the internet, there is an increasing need for brands to offer mobile optimized versions of their sites. Having a strong social presence is also vital. Social platforms in China offer far more than their Western counterparts, users can do everything from paying bills, to shopping online, to messaging friends, to applying for a job. The possibilities are endless.

Strict controls on online content are imposed, barring citizens from accessing globally popular websites, such as: Facebook; Google; Twitter; Youtube. This has seen popularity amongst Chinese websites soar.

Chinese Websites

International brands looking to promote their brand to the Chinese market must be aware of the strict laws and regulations that exist inside the digital space if they are to be successful. One of the key contributors to succeeding online in China is having a strong understanding of the Chinese equivalent of popular Western sites:

• Baidu — Considered the Chinese version of ‘Google’ Baidu is the most popular search engine platform in mainland China. Optimizing your SEO and PPC strategies on Baidu are essential for a brand to be found by potential customers. Baidu also provides many of the same services as Google with Baidu Maps and Baidu Translate.

• WeChat — Tencent created the instant messaging app for mobile phones. The ability to send voice messages (WeChat was the first of its kind to offer this feature) saw this app become a huge success, quickly. WeChat has gone from strength to strength with an increasing number of available features it has become a multi-purpose platform: banking services, e-commerce, payment services, cab calling, gaming, among many others. The network currently boasts 400 million active users and growing.

• Didi — Car sharing app ‘Ubers’ attempt at winning in China was faced with huge competition from local company Didi. a huge investment from Tencent and partnership with WeChat saw Didi eventually win the battle for supremacy resulting in Uber China being acquired by them.

• Youku — In an effort to minimize foreign media and influences into China ‘Youtube’ has been blocked and replaced by Youku. Slightly different to Youtube, people often use this site to stream or download movies and watch TV shows.

• Weibo –While fundamentally structured like ‘Twitter’, the differences in the Chinese and English languages caused this media site to develop differently. Since 140 characters in Mandarin can hold much more content than 140 characters in English, Weibo allows users to share more extensive, detailed content.

• Renren — Often called the ‘Chinese version of Facebook’ Renren gained massive popularity in the wake of Facebooks censorship all over China in 2005. Renren’s failure to anticipate the switch to mobile eventually led to its downfall. Most people have now switched to WeChat or Weibo.

• Tmall, Taobao & JD — Online shopping is hugely popular in China. People have begun to switch solely to digital purchasing as opposed to more traditional methods. As a result, there has been a huge surge in third party resellers such as Tmall, Taobao and JD. Their closest equivalents in the west would be ‘Amazon’ and ‘eBay’ — although both Amazon and eBay offer Chinese versions of their sites they offer far fewer services than Tmall and Taobao and are therefore far less popular. The B2C site JD focuses solely on electronic goods and merchandise making it a major competitor to Tmall.

It is important to remember that while it is easy to categorize each of these websites as ‘the Chinese version of…’ that most of these Chinese websites are larger than their western counterpart in terms of users. These sites are also continuously growing and expanding in the hope of generating a larger customer base, offering a multitude of features and services. For brands and businesses hoping to expand into China, navigating through these platforms is a must.

Beijing-based Web Presence In China (WPIC) is an independent, full service digital marketing and IT development agency. Having over 13 years of on the ground experience in the China digital sector, the firm has worked with over 300 global companies and leads a team of 120 people between their global offices. WPIC supports China and the greater APAC region in digital and IT solutions.

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