First Impressions: Chinese Social Media and Their Western Counterparts

There is a burgeoning Internet population here in China. Despite Facebook and Twitter not being available within the country, their replacements are widely used by locals who seem to be more and more addicted to these forms of Chinese social media.

Types of Chinese Social Media

Here in China, the social media outlets that you may be used to back home are replaced by the following:

  • Facebook is replaced by Renren and kaixin001;
  • Twitter is replaced by Sina Weibo; and
  • YouTube is replaced by YouKu.

Due to the sheer number of total internet users here in China, the number of subscriptions to these social media is immense. For example, Sina Weibo reports roughly 300 million active users almost all from one country.

You may ask, “What do all of these social media websites mean?” One example of Chinese social media is Weibo or 微博, which means microblogging. Just like Twitter, people use Sina Weibo to express their feelings through micro-messages—along with a 140 character limit. However, some new innovations and features have been implemented here in China. For example, within the last few months, users have been able to use double-hashtags to underline the topic of the message (i.e., #CPG#), follow other people, re-tweet, or better yet, re-weibo—and so on and so forth.

Login page for Weibo

Another example of social media here is Renren or人人, which means “everybody”. Renren serves as China’s version of Facebook. Just like Facebook, it was created to link students of the same University, but eventually was made available to everybody! It currently has 160 million registered users and it’s getting increasingly popular. Its closest competitor is Kaixin001, which means happy net.

Lastly, the YouTube equivalent here is known as YouKu or 優酷, which means “excellent and cool”. YouKu is used to share homemade videos and other multimedia content. Some of you may have even stumbled upon it at least once while looking to stream a particular video online.

YouKu’s homepage

The biggest challenge for the non-Chinese user is indeed the language (none of these services are translated to English). However, Chinese social media does not seem too interested in going global, which explains the lack of English on their websites. However, as I stated earlier, more and more people are getting addicted to these new forms of communication and it would not surprise me if these Chinese social media outlets continue to thrive!

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