Rapid changes in the social media landscape can make it difficult to keep up. But for companies wanting to move into China, there’s a completely different playing field to understand. It can certainly be a daunting task.
Why is this?
The Great Firewall continues to play a large role in the divide. While Google and Facebook continue to have their struggles, as of a few months ago Instagram has also been intermittently blocked for various reasons. At times Weibo too will block anything with an obvious QR code linking to WeChat.
But even if the Great Firewall were lifted, brands in China have found that earned media trumps owned media. They are focusing less on owning spaces and instead looking for opportunities with existing celebrity and media accounts, requiring an understanding of where they spend time and how they use the platforms.
Regardless of whether you’re looking to set up accounts, engage with those already established, or just wondering what’s going on, the infographic below, updated by Jeremy Webb and Ying Chen from the Social@Ogilvy Beijing team (you may remember their 2010 version), showing the social media equivalents within and without the Great Firewall will help clarify the landscape.
A few key points to note:
- The continued rise of WeChat – The Tencent-owned platform now takes on the role of multiple Western platforms in China.
- Mobile video sharing – Vine has inspired a number of equivalents in China – the major players are Sina-owned Meipai and Tencent’s 微视… not to mention WeChat’s “Sight” functionality.
- Social travel – With so many Chinese now traveling at home and abroad, these platforms are much less “niche.” Breadtrip and Mafengwo are a first stop for many, and Tripadvisor serves both Chinese and non-Chinese.
- LinkedIn crossing the China/Western divide – The professional SNS, one of the few Western platforms not blocked, has set up an office in China. Questions remain as to the cultural need for a professional SNS in a market where networking is done face-to-face, but as the platform develops the China product there’s certain to be opportunities for brands.