China was left behind when Facebook and Twitter were out to serve the “social monsters”, but in recent years China is catching up rapidly on the path of massive social media application among Chinese citizens, thanks to RenRen and Sina Weibo, the respective Facebook and Twitter counterparts.
However, how Chinese use social media is vastly different from others, especially on Weibo. Study has been done to show that Sina Weibo is used mainly for entertainment purposes like sharing jokes, spoofs, images and videos; while Twitter resembles more like a news stand, responsible for disseminating global events or current affairs.
Sina Weibo was launched in late 2009, after the Chinese government blocked Twitter and Fanfou (now has resumed its operation). Weibo, with its user-friendliness and comprehensive resource-sharing function, has attracted over 50 million active users till now; the number is incessantly growing with 10 million newly registered users per month, according to the Sina corporation annual report.
One edge Sina Weibo has over Twitter is the simultaneous sharing of embedded images and videos. That definitely facilitates sharing of entertainment-related messages and appeals to youngsters.
Illustration 1: How tweets are like on Twitter. Most of them do not contain an embedded image or video
Illustration 2: Most of the posts are accompanied with images or videos, even though they are not relevant to the message
Upon examination, it is not hard to notice that a large percentage of the “trending topics” are tweets with embedded images, videos or links, accounting for close to 100% of the entire list, by haphazard sampling; while on Twitter, the percentage is only 17.6%.
There is a difference on the most-followed accounts on Twitter and Weibo as well. According to twitaholic.com, an online tool to track twitter accounts with most followers, celebrities make up 90% of the list, with sporadic news media and social media. For Weibo, among the top 20 influential authors/accounts, four are verified account, representing an urban fashion magazine, a fashion brand, an online travel magazine and a Chinese celebrity. The remaining 16 are not verified, meaning they are neither from a particular organization nor a celebrity. But they all appear to have a strong capacity of collecting user-contributed jokes, movie travia, quizzes, stories, etc.
Illustration 3: Top 20 most followed accounts on Twitter. For Weibo, the accounts are categorized. For Weibo, most followed accounts are categorized by celebrity, government, websites, industry, etc. There is no amalgamated list available
Since more and more business professionals and organizations have been aware of the power of social media and started joining Sina Weibo, they would have to contemplate on how to adapt to the “Weibo culture” as well as shift the focus of posts in the future.
Article by: Grace Yu
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