10 Chinese social platforms you need to know about

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Chinese social networks are well ahead those of the Western world – live streaming, all-in-one solutions and QR codes connect the country’s online and offline worlds. Advanced functionality and integration mean these platforms infiltrate all parts of Chinese daily life. 98.6% of the country’s 829 million internet users connect through their mobile devices, meaning retailers wanting to do business in China can’t afford to ignore these 10 platforms.

1. WeChat 微信

Tencent initially created WeChat in 2011 as a messaging app similar to WhatsApp. Today, the ‘super app’ couldn’t be more different to WhatsApp, providing an all-in-one solution to an enormous 1.08 billion monthly active users (MAUs).

Social functions allow users to keep in touch with friends, share photos, posts and articles. The platform also boasts ‘mini-programs’ or ‘sub-applications’ within the WeChat ecosystem. In one platform, consumers can read the news, hail a taxi, invest money, follow their favourite brands, transfer money to friends, book doctors’ appointments… and it doesn’t stop there.

Connecting the online and offline worlds, WeChat also popularised QR codes, now ubiquitous across print media, stores and billboards in China. Chinese consumers are comfortable using WeChat Wallet to settle bills and make purchases.

It is not surprising that among the platform’s average 92% daily average users (DAUs), 30% spend at least four hours on the platform daily. Global luxury brands such as Chanel, Burberry and Prada are listening to these impressive figures – 92% already have WeChat accounts.

2. Weibo – 微博

Chinese for ‘microblog’, Weibo was initially considered the ‘Chinese Twitter’. Users share posts, photos and videos with subscribers.

Weibo has since absorbed interactive features from various social platforms, evolving to an entirely different platform. Previously limited to 140 characters, Weibo now allows users to write long-form posts of up to 2000 characters. Other functions include Weibo Poll, Live Stream, a powerful marketing tool popular with influencers, and Weibo Story, a newly launched feature that works like Instagram Stories.

Weibo acts as a large source of news for Chinese users and is a means to follow their favourite celebrities or influencers. An impressive 200 million daily active users (DAUs) use Weibo, with an almost identical gender split – 50.10% are male and 49.90% female.

3. Douyin (TikTok) – 抖音

Users post photos, live stream videos, lip sync songs and dub movie clips on Douyin. Uploads are limited to 15 seconds, and the app offers a range of advanced editing features.

The platform is an increasingly popular digital marketing tool, thanks to its many influencers and key opinion leaders (KOLs). Douyin consequentially introduced a ‘shopping cart’ function, redirecting users to Taobao where users can purchase the promoted product.

Globally topping Apple’s App Store download chart for a large part of 2018, Douyin has an impressive 400 million MAUs. Notably, 80% of the user base are under the age of 30; 66.4% are women.

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4. Yingke – 映客

Live streaming is an extremely popular hobby among young Chinese people. Yingke is a live streaming app, where users share their daily life, using the app’s broadcaster tools such as ‘beautycam’ to equalise sound and smooth skin. The platform is used by many influencers.

Entertainment, fashion and real-time interactive content bring 25 million MAUs to the app in 2017, checking for updates on average 3 times a day.

5. Meitu – 美图

Meitu is one of China’s biggest social media platforms with over 6 billion photos generated every month by 100 million MAUs. Literally ‘Beautiful Picture’, Meitu is a global innovator in mobile video and photography, offering a suite of filters, retouching, frames, augmented reality and other virtual tools.

Meitu’s apps use patented facial recognition and machine learning algorithms to map each user’s unique facial features, making it the leading digital ecosystem for beauty.

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6. Meipai – 美拍

Launched in 2015, Meipai is part of Meitu’s product catalogue and is also a popular video-based social platform in China.

Users record their daily lives by uploading videos and can use Meipai’s suite of editing tools to add music, apply filters and create their own ‘blockbuster’ movies. Beauty brands and influencers use the platform to engage with its mostly young, female and relatively well-off user base: 76% are women, their average age is 23 and 60% live in first and second-tier cities.

7. XiaoHongShu (Little Red Book/RED) – 小红书

Little Red Book is a social commerce shopping app with an interface similar to Pinterest which boasts 100 million users. Targeting 18-35-year-old urban women, consumers use the app to discover and buy luxury, fashion and beauty products from overseas, share shopping tips, products for sale, reviews, and swap fashion ideas.

Functions allow users to filter content: ‘Nearby’ displays suggestions for local food, experiences, or shopping opportunities, ‘Explore’ displays content based on topics, e.g. ‘fashion’ or ‘food’.

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8. Weitao – 微淘

Alibaba introduced Weitao in 2013 as a social commerce platform for retail platforms Taobao and Tmall. Merchants, brands and KOLs publish many forms of content, use the broadcast function to promote their stores, engage with users and send push messages with discounts and information.

Consumers use Weitao to discover and research brands and products, benefit from discounts and engage with best practices and tips concerning style, beauty, etc.

9. Yizhibo – 直播

A range of content including singing, discussions, tutorials, and Q&A sessions are uploaded to interactive live streaming app Yizhibo. Launched in 2016, it saw huge success the month after its launch, with an average of 7.73 million DAUs and more than 300 Chinese celebrities joining the trend.

Influencers, KOLs and the brands they endorse thrive on the platform, as Chinese consumers trust influencers’ opinions and Yizhibo enables consumers to engage with the broadcaster in real-time and ask questions about products.

The platform was acquired by social giant Weibo in 2018, greatly increasing the platform’s popularity. Yizhibo live-stream videos can be posted and viewed on Weibo.

10. Kwai (Kuaishou) – 快手

Users record and upload millions of original videos daily with live streaming app Kwai’s 700 million strong user base worldwide. Users film themselves doing a range of things from playing parks to showing off their cooking skills. Fans ‘tip’ their favourite performers by buying them virtual goods, like flowers or fancy cars.

Kwai tapped an underserved segment of China’s online community by targeting people in smaller cities and the countryside rather than the urban elites in the countries bigger, richer cities.

Interested to learn more about selling in China?

Check our China Country Guide

Image 1 credit: Jens Johnsson/Unsplash
Image 2 credit: TheBetterDay/CC BY-ND 2.0
Image 3 credit: Tommy Huang/Pexels
Image 4 credit: rawpixel.com/Pexels

Naomi Botting

Communications Project Manager - UK/NORDICS