Get to Know Chinese Social Networking Sites and Find Your Target Market in China

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China is an essential country for marketers that plan to expand into Asia. Its GDP continues to climb at more than 10% year over year. As a result, an increasingly affluent culture is developing beyond metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai, and brands have to expand their reach into these markets. Social networks are an accessible and widespread way to penetrate the Chinese market.

Internet users in China are increasing in number and experience every day. China will have 265 million social network users by the end of this year. The total number of social network users is also estimated to hit 488 million by 2015. As penetration approaches saturation, users are enthusiastically using social networking sites to follow their favorite brand and product websites. Because Facebook and Twitter are blocked by government censorship in China, they have no traction among Chinese Internet users.

Thus, Facebook and Twitter are not ideal for companies who are focusing in the Chinese market. Rather, marketers have to be accustomed to using local Chinese networking sites to reach their target market. In China, Renren and Sina Weibo are dominant players in the social network market. They can be seen as the "Facebook" and "Twitter" of China as each network currently has 160 million and 100 million registered users, respectively. There are also many other local networks, such as WeaLink, the Chinese version of LinkedIn, and Kaixin001.

Renren

Beijing based social networking brand Renren is China's leading social network and is literally a Facebook clone, sporting the same colors and layout. SiliconAngle.com reported in February that Renren is soon to go public on NASDAQ with a $ 500 million IPO, before American networks Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have gone public. Backed by serious venture capital including money from Japan's Softbank Corp, and US Accel Partners, Renren's popularity has skyrocketed. Renren translates to "everyone," meaning that everyone is connected under one network. However, before undergoing a name change in 2009, Renren was once called Xiaonei, meaning "on campus," as the site was made exclusively for college students.

The change was meant to push the network beyond its exclusive core of university students and expand the network's target market. Yet, Renren still attracts a primarily younger population of both students and white-collars. Still, their large audience can be seen as a more lucrative advertising platform, giving rise to commercial benefits for the company as well. Renren is also strong when it comes to monetization. Brand campaigns are sold to companies at high prices. Fan pages, while free on Facebook, start at 600,000 yuan (about $ 90,000). Thus social network marketing is more expensive through Renren, but if you want to penetrate the younger Chinese market, this is the way to go.

Sina Weibo

Sina Weibo's functionality is very similar to Twitter so this social network is great for communicating with your target market quickly. Sina Weibo allows users to post their thoughts limited to 140 characters, which is the same character limit as Twitter. The site is very popular among Chinese and its registered users exceeded 100 million by the end of February. The site is actually like Twitter on steroids. In fact, you can share not only text-based information, but also picture, video, and audio. You can upload multimedia content to Sina Weibo or embed content hosted by a third-party channel. Launched in August 2009 by Sina Corporation, China's biggest web portal, Sina Weibo has experienced explosive growth that has been fueled by celebrity users and exorbitant market valuations. Analysts at Susequehanna International predict that the company will reach the 120 million mark by 2012. By comparison, Twitter had 175 million users as of September 2010.

Kaixin001

Kaixin001, which translates into "happy network," is another very popular social network. Kaiser said that its users are mostly "white collar middle class" and typically come from a "first tier city."
Compared with Renren, Kaixin001 appeals to white-collar office workers with a simpler user interface that is more intuitive to older audiences and its broader target market provides it a much larger audience group .. Kaiser noted that Kaixin001.com is extremely popular among people who work for multinational companies, ad agencies and other white-collar companies. Accordingly, the site is valuable because of its relatively wealthy user base.

WeaLink

WeaLink, founded in 2004, is the leading business social network service platform in China. This network is basically the Chinese clone of LinkedIn. A professional user profile features a free account where you can post your contact details, professional experience, education details and recommendations of other people or companies. However, company profiles are not free, they cost around $ 900 per year. Yet, with this account you are allowed to post company updates, get company followers, and post available jobs in the company.

International companies that wish to penetrate the Chinese market must have a clear understanding of how to utilize local Chinese networking sites in order to reach their target market and successfully expand their business. The research presented in this article will definitely help you to do just that.

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Source by Sabrina C Robinson

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