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Media (R)evolutions: Social media in China linked to mobile devices

Roxanne Bauer's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

The social media market in China can be bewildering because it changes quickly.  Just a few years ago, Renren was king of social networking in the country… until the emergence of Weibo, and more recently, WeChat.  At the same time, the demographics of social media users in China have been shifting as smartphones become increasingly popular and affordable.  Social media is now used by more age groups and across a greater geographical spread than before.

After conducting a survey covering 100,000 people in 60 different Chinese cities, Kantar, a network of 13 companies engaged in market research, created a massive infographic, including this slide on mobile social media. According to the results, social media's reach among urban residents has increased to 34% from last year's 28.6%, and 85% of respondents use mobile devices to engage in social media, compared to 71.5% last year.  

Among the social media that are accessed on mobile devices, WeChat is the most popular, with 74.8% of respondents claiming they visit the app on their mobiles, followed by Weibo with 18.4% and Bulletin board systems (BBS) with 8.9%.  BBS sites allow people to post basic messages online and, in contrast to many countries, they continue to be popular in China today.

Media penetration is another area of rapid change in China. The Internet, not surprisingly, now has 100% penetration among social media users and a 69.4% penetration rate among urban residents. Similarly, mobile online (which simply indicates accessing the internet from a mobile device) has 91%.4 penetration rate among social media users.  Out of home (OOH) encompasses a variety of platforms, from digital billboards and signs atop taxis to digital signs at airports, gyms, and waiting rooms, and has a penetration rate that is also high at 88.7%.

China Social Media infographic

Sophie Shen, General Manager of CTR Media & Consumption Behaviour, who led the online polling survey, states "More profoundly, social media has penetrated into the lives of Chinese people and they now realise they are spending too much time on it. At the same time, they are receiving more low-quality and duplicate content, this is why the proportion of `zero interaction' social users increased by 7 percentage points to 46%."

According to a report produced by iResearch Consulting Group in 2007, the primary motivations for visiting a BBS site are finding information and solutions to problems, general discussion, and sharing life experiences. 98% of users have contributed to a BBS by publishing articles, replying to posts, participating in polls, etc. Users tend to trust BBS sites because they think the information found on them is first-hand, updated frequently, and presented in a comfortable, community environment. Postings are anonymous, which encourages users to give unvarnished views.

For more information on China’s social media scene, check out the more extensive, larger infographic.

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