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China’s Internet Users Increase Weibo Logins

Social users interact with brands, follow popular personalities and shop

January 2, 2014

The majority of internet use in China is done via mobile devices. It makes sense, then, that among the changes in China’s social media ecosystem is the rapid emergence of “weibo,” mobile microblogging services akin to Twitter. These have been adopted so quickly by internet users in China that they have surpassed most “traditional” social networks, according to a new eMarketer report, “Mobile Social Platforms in China: Marketing Opportunities and Challenges.”

Because mobile social channels have grown so rapidly, they are an attractive opportunity for marketers looking to engage with China’s young, digital-focused audience. But the phenomenon of mobile social media is still so new that data about users and usage is relatively sparse—and sometimes contradictory. The makeup of user groups, and even their general location, can be hard to define. Nevertheless, marketers are moving in because the numbers, however fragmentary, show huge usage.

Mobile Microblogging Users and Penetration in China, 2011-June 2013 (millions and % of mobile internet users)

Because China’s government has blocked access to popular social networks from the West like Facebook and Twitter, homegrown networks have filled the void. Instead of Facebook, netizens tap Qzone, Renren and Kaixin. Instead of Twitter, they use Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo.

Internet users in China are not ruffled by the presence of brands on social channels. According to the Data Center of China Internet, more than 80% of Sina Weibo users ages 19 and older had followed a brand on the service, and microblog users followed nearly eight brands on average in 2012.

Apart from following brands directly, weibo users tend to follow well-known personalities, a dynamic that marketers are not ignoring, turning to celebrities and other influential users to connect with a larger audience.

And social users in China are not just following brands and key opinion leaders on social media. They follow each other, and they pay attention to their friends’ recommendations. Social channels, in fact, are much more commonly used in the shopping cycle in China than elsewhere.

The full report, “Mobile Social Platforms in China: Marketing Opportunities and Challenges,” also answers these key questions:

  • How many internet users in China are active on weibo?
  • How has the emergence of WeChat affected Sina Weibo?
  • How are marketers tapping into weibo?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


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