For all the folks who have had their confidence in social media shaken by Facebook’s dire IPO debacle, it’s worth keeping China in mind as proof that the communications form is a compelling concept that is unlikely to disappear any time soon, if ever.
To get a sense of the rate of change in China’s social media landscape, and the immensity of its uptake, it’s worth taking a look at the below infographic, which was done by Best Free Online (hat tip to TechNode for the find).
- 95 percent of people in China’s major cities use social networks.
- China is the world’s most active social media market. About 91 percent of survey respondents said they had visited a social media site within the last six months, compared to 67 percent in the US.
- Because many America social networks aren’t easily accessible in China, the country has developed its own equivalents, which are registering incredible numbers. Tencent’s Qzone, for instance, claims 560 million users (“claims” is a key word here – user numbers reported by Chinese Internet companies are anything but reliable, but you can at least know that everyone adjusts upwards).
Renren is probably China’s nearest equivalent to Facebook, and its user numbers weigh in at around the 150 million mark. Facebook watchers should note that Renren, which is now testing a Pinterest-like redesign, is reportedly considering spinning off its gaming arm for an IPO. Renren’s advertising business has experienced a slow-down in recent times, while in the last year its gaming business grew by 90.7 percent. Earlier this year, the company reported a first-quarter adjusted net loss of $11.3 million.
Like Facebook, Renren is also rumored to be working on a mobile OS, further underscoring the importance of mobile in China’s Internet future. Nearly 40 percent of users who logged into Renren in April came via a mobile device.
As I’ve said before, to understand the mobile future you could do a lot worse than study China really carefully. The Chinese are moving to that future faster than the US, even with constraints on connectivity speeds, hardware, and cloud infrastructure. How social networks like Renren and Facebook adapt to the new mobile paradigm is key to their future success, or, depending on how you frame it, survival.
You’re going to hear a lot more from me about China these next couple of months. This week I’m in Hong Kong, and, all going well, I’ll soon be in Shanghai until August, sniffing around for the most interesting Internet stories that this incredibly fast moving and complex market is throwing up. If you’re in China and have a story to tell, please get in touch.
Now for that infographic.