Jun 4, 2009
In my previous article on Facebook’s usage in Asia Pacific, I compared Facebook with Kaixin001 and Xing in China. But it turns out that there are even bigger social networks in the Middle Kingdom. (Which just goes to show that if you aren’t as tuned into a particular market as you should be, you’ll miss important information!)
Thanks to a pointer at Plurk (which has since been deleted for some reason), someone mentioned that I should look at Xiaonei. That was a forehead-slapping moment! I had heard of Xiaonei, but for some reason, it didn’t cross my mind then to take a look at its usage.
That led to another forehead-slapping moment of realisation (and a really painful forehead!). I had forgotten about the other social network giant in China: QQ! QQ, of course, is more than just a social network. It has morphed into this giant portal-social network-instant messaging service, something that one would be hard pressed to find anywhere else (except perhaps in South Korea and Japan).
Here’s what Google Trends reported for the visitors to Facebook, Xiaonei, Kaixin001 and 51.com in China:
I think the chart shows it clearly. When it comes to reaching social network users in China, Xiaonei and 51.com are the places to go, although it looks like Kaixin001 has been catching up in the last month. And, of course, Facebook barely registers a (relative) blip.
You’ll notice that I didn’t include QQ in the chart. If I had, all of the other lines would appear almost flat along the x-axis. That just goes to show the immense reach that QQ has in China — and also the huge size of that market!
Aside: this week, China has been reportedly blocking major social network services as the anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown nears. Affected services include Facebook, Twitter and more. Such governmental actions, combined with the pecularities of the local market, for example, due to language, may make these local social networks even more well used locally. That’s something to think about if you want to crack the Chinese market.