The Chinese web and social media landscape changes so quickly. New functions, apps, trends and patterns of usage emerge day by day. If someone hasn’t paid close attention, they’ve missed a lot. So many new digital players are competing in this area but the most prestigious ones are Alibaba and Tencent.
BAT stands for; Baidu Alibaba and Tencent… the top 3 internet players in China.
It has been well documented that the BAT’s have become the core of the Chinese social landscape and are considered to be the most powerful platforms. These Chinese internet powerhouses are very influential with a large, active user base centered around the dominant players. These 800 million users are considered to be the core of Chinese social media.
Baidu has cemented their position by investing in ‘Face it’ a Chinese version of Snapchat. They also lead the way in terms of augmented reality developments and seek to incorporate it in their searching mechanism.
Tencent still dominates the social media playing field with ‘WeChat’. The platform boasts over 750 million active users and is arguably the most integrated social app in the world. Users are increasingly centering their daily lives around this single application.
Alibaba is investing in ‘Weibo’, a microblogging service to compete with WeChat in this fiercely competitive market. The advantage of Weibo for brands is that it’s an open network. Users can see posts by anyone and do not have to sign in first.
E-Commerce is linked to social Media in China
It’s a known fact that, as the number of users increases, the desire for different products on the platform also increases. It has been noted that China is the fastest growing e-commerce market in the world. An example is; ‘Little Red Book’ a Social Commerce App. People share their purchases and can sell what they want to their community. WeChat is also launching micro-stores for shopping within the app. This is very effective as payment is linked to WeChat’s built in e-wallet service.
Platforms include group sale sites, second-hand sales sites, crowdfunding sites, cross-border retail platforms and flash sale sites. In China, mobile commerce is the future of e-commerce with over 550 million smartphone users. Payment apps such as Alipay or WeChat pay allow users to link payment with their bank accounts and pay for different products and services. Users will also be able to pay with their mobile balance. It’s a powerful development, as it allows people to buy or sell anything from any place without entering a credit card number. This feature is still in its initial phase, but it’s expected to be popular in next few months. Most e-Commerce agencies in China also integrate in their activities.
Payment via social sites
These days, payment is incorporated with social media. The boundary between e-commerce and social media is becoming blurred. The largest e-commerce websites are introducing special features, like sharing on networks that help users discover new products and offer options for an instant purchase. E-commerce, social platforms offer links to overseas purchasing agents. Many beauty products not found in China can only be found on these cross-border platforms. Social media is actually a very reliable method for making payments. WeChat has developed advanced security protocols to ensure the safety and security of users’ data.
The Rise of Video
There are some traditional video sites such as Youku and iQiyi that are considered to be a very important part the social media sphere in China. They offer people the chance to watch legal versions of local content such as TV dramas. Every year Chinese people surf millions of videos over many websites. They upload thousands of videos every day and then share these videos on social media. High-quality cameras are taking the world of videos to the next level. Three-dimensional videos are the future. Mobile manufacturers are launching new devices which support 3D videos. The growth in VR and augmented reality also taps into the growth of video-based visuals. The Chinese marketplace has proven to be very receptive to technological developments.
Nearly 70% of marketers and media agency professionals in China prefer to invest in social networking sites on mobile in 2017
Reinvigoration of Q&A with Zhihu
Zhihu is the Chinese version of Quora and it is really starting to be popular amongst the white collar community, beating Baidu Zhidao, the previous Q&A leader. In fact when searching on Baidu ‘Zhihu’ answers will often appear alongside a company’s official website. It ranks that high.
Another one to look out for is; ‘Ask Me Anything’. http://www.zaih.com
Recently these websites have had a strong influence on social media. The fee for asking a question to a celebrity range between a few hundred to few thousand Chinese yuan. Some celebrities personally answer their fan’s questions while others answer through personal assistants. Female celebrities are more popular than male celebrities. It’s expected that this trend will grow for the next few years.
Apps for professional information
There have been new apps that allow people to chat 1-on-1 with experts. Zhihu is one such example. Weibo and WeChat also allow direct contact with a professional customer service rep. They allow people to communicate easily with industry leaders. Different brands know how to communicate their message via these experts. This type of app is becoming popular because it also allows businesses to promote their businesses through their top professionals. Read Beyond WeChat: Top 12 New Social Media Sites to Watch in China for more info.
Subcategory for influencers
There has been lots of talk that influencers are in China are declining. This isn’t the case. There’s a whole group of cyber celebrities who are targeting a large percentage of internet users. These are specialists, who build slightly smaller but dedicated communities around their specific area of expertise. Their growth has added a layer of complexity to Chinese key opinion leaders. These key opinion leaders are divided into 3 categories: celebrities, wang hong, and experts. All 3 categories promote to online users in their respective areas.
For example this KOL
Phone apps & Wechat mini Apps
Mobile phone apps have added much to the Web sphere in China. These apps are considered an important part of social networking and provide users with a number of offers. There are lots of reasons for mobile apps popularity. People don’t want to take the time to write and read long posts to express their feelings. They use images and videos for this purpose. Smartphones are a convenient way to capture and share images instantly. The app ‘Nice’ allows for convenient editing and sharing of images. Meipai enables users to edit and construct home-made video clips. When compared to laptops and big tablets, the sales of smart mobile devices is increasing at a high rate. 550 million Chinese now own a smartphone. Mass market and affordable models such as ‘Xiaomei’ are proving to be highly successful.
WeChat mini-apps will essentially be an app store hosted within WeChat and further expand the range of services offered on the platform. This taps into the engaged, loyal and largely captive user base that WeChat has built up.
All these trends are indicating that the Internet in China is very advanced and progressing towards the next phase of development. People embrace new technologies and appreciate the many changes and experimentation in the field of social media. In this sense, China’s social media sphere is the most advanced in the world.