As Digital 2020, 72% of the Chinese population are active social media users, and on average, each Chinese owns 9.3 social media accounts. The average time spent on social media in China is over 2 hours in a day. Moreover, over 60% of web traffic comes from mobile phones in China. Now, we have a big question, what are the top-ranking Chinese social media apps?72% of Chinese are social media users, and 60% of web traffic in #China is from mobile devices. Says @LuibaoHK Click To Tweet
By reviewing the development of the Internet and social media in China in the past 20 years, it is not difficult for us to understand the developing trend.
It started with a chatting tool (QQ). Instead of website, many Chinese Internet users embrace the era of social commerce.
In 2019, WeChat took an overwhelming position among all the Chinese social media platforms.
Sina Weibo and Baidu Tieba ranked the 2nd and the 3rd.
Red (Xiaohongshu), as the fastest-growing lifestyle social media platform in China, was in the 4th position.
Talking about China’s social media apps on a global scale, WeChat is still on the top, followed by TikTok and QQ.
There are no best China social media for all brands, but only the most suitable ones.There is no best #socialmedia for a brand in #China, but only the most suitable one. Says @LuibaoHK Click To Tweet
We have reviewed the latest reports released in January and July 2020, as well as studied the features and performance in terms of ROI.
These top 10 Chinese social media apps are the most valuable Chinese social media platforms for brands to consider. (The listing is not based on the user scale)
The Top All-In-One Chinese Social Media Apps
Together with QQ under Tencent Group, it is one of the biggest Internet companies in China. With an impressive number of 1.16 billion active accounts per month (until 31st December 2019), it stands at the first position in the section of the most-used social media platforms and the top-ranked mobile apps in China.
However, WeChat is not a simple social media platform like others.
WeChat, often, is considered as an online payment platform.
The network on WeChat is more private among friends and families. Therefore, WeChat is one of the most important channels for private traffic and WOM (word-of-mouth).The beauty of #wechat is its #privatetraffic generated by its over 1Bn active users per month, and your ultimate goal is to achieve as more #earnedcontent as possible. Says @LuibaoHK Click To Tweet
With the development of the Internet and e-market in China, WeChat has become the NO.1 all-in-one Chinese social media app. Its functions include not only payment and social networking, but also an online community, e-commerce, gaming, education, entertainment, e-finance & e-banking, and public services. All are supported by the mini-programs.
QQ is the first and most successful instant message tool in China.
Tencent launched QQ in 1999 and it dominated the early China Internet market. As the recent release by Tencent, the number of QQ’s monthly active accounts reached 694.5 million. The basic features of QQ are instant messaging with text and audio messages, as well as video chatting.
Different from the other successful Tencent product, WeChat, QQ combines functions more in the field of online entertaining (music, online games…) and office. It becomes one of the top all-in-one Chinese social media apps with online gaming, cloud service, email, and forum.
During the 2020’s outbreak, the online conference room of QQ has achieved impressive success. We believe Tencent with QQ will carry out more features for remote working and online education.
The Top Content-Oriented Chinese Social Media Apps
Weibo (Sina Weibo)
Released in 2009 by Sina, Weibo is the first microblogging social media in China. Many call it Chinese Twitter.
Weibo has 550 million monthly users and 94% of them are using Weibo mobile app as the latest report. It ranks second after WeChat in the sector of most used Chinese social media apps and platforms.
Different from WeChat which has a feature of generating huge private traffic, Weibo is where the public traffic happens. It is the biggest public information portal in China. Instead of private connection, Weibo users are engaging with different content based on their interests and user behavior.
Chinese Internet users turn to look for the hottest topics, public, celebrity, and entertaining news on Weibo, meanwhile, the Chinese marketers use Weibo to search for the consumer trend by the ranking hot keywords.
Weibo is also the most top social media platform for brands to do digital campaigns and influencer marketing.#Weibo is the top social media platform for brands to launch digital campaigns with #paidads and carry out #influencermarketing strategy. Says @LuibaoHK Click To Tweet
tikTok (Douyin in china)
Among all the new Chinese social media apps, TikTok has the fastest growth.
Launched in 2016, TikTok is a new China social media app with the 15-second short video sharing. It targets the young generation in China, which seeks the platforms to show a different personality.
TikTok has won 600 million active users per month recently. Also, it is no longer a China social media app for the young generation. Over 75% of its users are 25+ years old.
During the 2020’s pandemic, TikTok made impressive growth with its global strategy. In the report of the global mobile apps ranking, it stands the 6th, with over 2 billion global downloads.
Earlier this year, TikTok also announced that 3rd party links will be restricted in the live streaming – TikTok is creating its own impression-to-sales loop.
Kuaishou, with 443 million active users per month, becomes a strong competitor to TikTok.
Both Chinese social media apps feature in short-video content and live streaming, targeting the young generation in China, and generating huge Internet traffic to Chinese e-commerce. As the report, there are 300 million users posting on Kuaishou in a year, and 70% of Kuaishou users are under 30 years old.
In 2020, when TikTok is developing its global market, Kuaishou put more effort into its live streaming function. It encourages more video content in gaming, culture, and online education.
RED (Xiaohongshu / Redbook)
Red (Xiaohongshu), or you can call it “Little Redbook”, was founded in June 2013.
As a recent report, it has over 300 million active users and 100 million monthly active users.
Red was considered as an E-commerce platform instead of a simple China social media app. More impressively, in June, RED ranked the 4th in the sector of Chinese E-commerce after the market giants, Taobao, PinDuoDuo, and JD.
Red is positioned as the online lifestyle community with user-generated content (UGC). It is created to meet the increasing demand for the new Chinese generation who are seeking foreign brands, products, and services. It launched its in-app E-commerce platform only one year after. This enabled RED to convert UGC to real purchases.
70% of Red users are Millennials and even Gen-Z. User-generated content, influencer marketing, and in-app E-commerece are the three big features that show attractive potential for domestic and foreign brands. RED is considered as a valuable social media platform for brands to do campaigns and digital marketing after Weibo.#influencermarketing, in-app #ecommerece, and #usergeneratedcontent make #xiaohongshu the second valuable social media platform for brands in #China. Says @LuibaoHK Click To Tweet
Toutiao (Headline), is another special social media platform in China.
It was launched by Bytedance which owns TikTok. However, instead of short video content and the young generation, Toutiao is a public platform of information that generates value.
The platform houses major medias, governments, public authorities, and leading companies in the industries.
As a recent report, Toutiao has 260 million monthly active users. Its active users are from 25 to 35 years old. 56% are male users.
In the 2019, the top question-oriented keyword on Toutiao is “How To” – Chinese Internet users are searching for practical information by using this Chinese social media platform.
With the advantage of offering valuable content, Toutiao launched its paid content and (writer) column. Impressively, the total revenue generated by the content on Toutiao reaches 4.6 billion in 2019.
Douban ranks the 7th among the most used Chinese social media platforms.
However, again, it is not like other Chinese social media apps for the mass market. It requires a proper strategy. Why?
Douban has been through 15 years in China’s e-market. One of its secrets to great success is the clear market positioning.
Douban is a Chinese social media platform for content related to culture, especially consumer culture or content from the entertainment industry. On Douban, content is dominated by topics related to movies, books, music, arts, and more. The loyal users of Douban call themselves, “the culture youth”.
Advertising, online-traffic-to-offline-purchase is still the most traditional revenue model of Douban. However, in recent years, it becomes more successful with its paid content feature with the growth of the knowledge paying industry in China.
Talking about the development of knowledge paying industry in China, we cannot miss Zhihu, which is a China social media app and platform with a clear position on knowledge sharing.
You can consider it similar to Quora.
By February 2020, Zhihu has 19 million users in China. Knowledge-oriented content by industrial professionals (both individuals and companies) draws the attention of China Internet users. Technology, career, finance, health are the trendy categories, no matter in the format of free content or paid content.
Baidu Tieba was born in 2003 and it costs only one year to become the NO.1 forum in China.
The number of its daily active user in the peak time reaches 300 million, however, according to a 2018’s report, the number of its monthly active users drops to 11 million.
Without a doubt, it is affected by the new trend of microblogging social media and video-content-oriented social media in China.
To summarize, in the past 20 years, China social media has changed from the instant messaging and online forum to microblogging and video-content-oriented social media. Meanwhile, the majority of Internet traffic is switching to mobile phones, and we have no doubt the competition of the Chinese social media apps will be fiercer. So far, we see the market is dominated by WeChat and Weibo, however, new players like RED, TikTok, and Toutiao are catching up by a clearer and more niche positioning. For brands and companies, keep an eye on the trends in China, and study the pros and cons of different platforms are the keys to their China social media strategy.
China mobile Internet industry development analysis report (Jan-Jun, 2020) by Trustdata
WeChat economics development report
Tencent (QQ) 2020 Q1 Financial report
Weibo 2020 Q1 Financial report
2020 Spring general report (TikTok)
China companies go globalization (TikTok)
TikTok will ban 3rd party links from October 2020
Kuaishou 2020 half-year ecosystem report
Toutiao user profile report (June 2019)
15-year-old Douban as the last territory of China Internet world?
Report on China knowledge paying industry development and trend (2020)