February 4, 2013
These social media may be a key part of your association’s strategy, but did you realize they are generally not accessible to 1.3 billion people? Although China has the world’s biggest Internet user base, the government places restrictions on the outlets you may be familiar with. But even with the restrictions, the social media space has seen an explosive growth in China; according to McKinsey, more than 300 million people are using social media there, from blogs to social networking sites to microblogs and other online communities – that’s roughly equivalent to the combined population of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
So if they’re not on Facebook, what are they using? People are resorting to local alternatives, which include Sina Weibo, Renren and Youku. These sites have features that to a high degree resemble the international ones – watch a video on Youku or write on your friend’s Renren page and you will notice the similarities. Others incorporate new elements or different social media into a hybrid format, such as Weibo (“microblog”), which shares many features from Twitter but allows users to post messages with graphical emoticons, images, music, or videos, and others to comment, re-post and quote messages to their own page.
The latest hit in China is WeChat, a mobile phone text and voice messaging communication service developed by Tencent, which some simply describe as a “WhatsApp on steroids” and is actually rapidly expanding its user base beyond the Chinese borders.
So is your association using Youtube as sole medium to post videos? If your group is international, would it be worth it for you to explore these alternative social media sites in China? As the Year of the Snake is about to start, you may want to give your association a new year’s resolution: Review our regional social media outreach strategy.