International Social Media Snapshot – Part One – China

October 21, 2011 / By

I’ve spent some time recently digging into the international social media landscape.  No doubt Facebook and Twitter have a really significant footprint globally – but there are many, many other players with both regional and international reach that can’t be ignored by any global brand.

The Chinese social media market is, perhaps, the most unique due to its censorship restrictions.  Two “real name” (as opposed to nickname) social networks rise to the top for me – Renren and Sina Weibo.

A Mashable contributor once called Renren “a miniature Facebook with a mean streak and a quest for monetization.”  The features are very similar but also have an enhanced gaming layer.  Something else that stood out is the hefty price tag for brands to get involved – equivalent to $90,000 – and that’s just the entry point!

Sina Weibo is considered to be more like Twitter.  Though a new layout (for brand pages) launched a few months ago has taken on more of a social network feel than a microblog.  Asian tech blog, Penn-Olson, does a nice job laying out the new features, which include a new nav bar, photo galleries and tags to optimize searching.  Though the content is in Chinese (as you might expect!), the article also includes some screen shots that display the sleek, new layout.  Unlike Renren, it’s free for brands to join Weibo.

While competition for users is already fierce between Chinese social networks, the potential entrance of Facebook could be a real game changer.  So far, Facebook’s efforts (dating back to 2007) to penetrate the market have been unsuccessful due to censorship laws. If that were to change in the future, would brands continue to pay for pages on Renren with a free Facebook alternative?  Will users begin to branch out from the established sites they know to a foreign option?  Facebook sure hopes so, if they are able to enter China’s walled garden.

More information on Renren and Sina Weibo can be found in a Mashable overview of the rest of the Chinese social media landscape.

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