MUST KNOW: Top 8 Chinese Social Networks & Eccomerce

Andrew Collins

Andrew Collins

March 1, 2011

It’s now 2011 so we’ve short listed the TOP 8 Chinese social networks, ecommerce and search sites you must use (or at least consider) when creating your Chinese social media strategy. Big players such as taobao (listed below) is by far the most dominant force in online purchase for Chinese globally.  Although the major social networks of RenRen and Kaixin and large, they do not always present the best options for modest companies (with modest budgets).  

The Top 8 China Social Sites (+ Eccomerce/search)

Weibo: The Twitter of China. China blocked Twitter and other micro-blog technology ( in 2009 when riots started in the Western region of wieboXinjiang. The government could foresee Twitter enabling the revolutions we are seeing in the Middle East (by the way, Malcolm Gladwell, you were incorrect, the revolution was indeed tweeted). Weibo remains and is growing.  Interestingly enough, 140 characters maximum isn’t as limiting in Chinese as it is in English. Each Chinese symbol expresses so much more than each English character. Owned by publicly traded Sina Weibo means “microblog.”

RenRen: In 2006, Oak Pacific Interactive bought Xiaonei for around $4 million. It has since renamed it RenRen (in August 2009), which literally translates to “everyone.” With an estimated 120 million users, it is trying to become the Facebook of China. RenRen users are primarily high school and college students with Café Internet access.

Kaixin001: Literally means “happy” in Chinese. This social network is cleaner and has an older, white-collar demographic than its rival RenRen. Think Facebook (Kaixin) vs. MySpace (RenRen) circa 2007. Kaixin even has a knock-off of FarmVille called Happy Farm. Interestingly enough, users can use the same log-in to access RenRen and Kaixin001.

Douban – a more specialized social networking site, attracts art students and those passionate about books, cinema, culture, and music. Users connect according to their interests and often hold offline activities, such as trips to local art exhibitions.

QZone – the first and largest social networking site in China, attracts youth from teens through age 25, often from second- and third-tier cities. A sizable portion of migrant workers, many of whom share personal diaries in a blog-like format, use QZone.

Youku and Tudou: Think YouTube/Hulu marriage. Less stringent copyright enforcement enables as much as 70% to be professionally produced (often pirated foreign content). This differs from American YouTube, which is dominated by shorter, user-generated videos. While Americans watch less than 15 minutes of YouTube videos per day, the youth in China spend up to an hour on these sites.

Taobao: “An online Walmart.” Popular among the youth of China. It is similar to eBay in that sellers offer used or new items either via an auction or fixed price. Most items are new merchandise sold at a fixed price. Started in 2003 by the Alibaba Group (partial Yahoo ownership), Taobao is closing in on 400 million registered users and has more than 800 million product listings. Large Fortune 500 companies have opened Taobao stores – finding it easier to sell their product here than on their company sites.

Baidu is by far the largest local search engine.  Think Google of China.  Although Google holds  a large market share, with its recent political trouble with Chinese officials it’s not a safe bet currently to invest all your eggs in Google.  Consider your search capabilities through Baidu.

For an extended list of Chinese social networks please explore the diagram below:

Top Chinese Social Networks

When planing to do business in China, it’s critical you understand how your business can address these popular sites.  Contact Mailman for more information.