Chinese Social Networks Explained

Thomas Crampton has posted a short guide to China’s social networks and their users, while at DigiCha, a slideshow by Bill Bishop gives an in-depth explanation of so-called “Twitter clone” Sina Weibo.


Facebook holds sway as the default social network in many parts of the world across all Internet demographics. In China, where Facebook is blocked, a handful of homegrown social networks attract segmented audiences, ranging from upmarket urban youth to university students and migrant workers.

Quick summary:

Kaixin = Cool girls, Facebook = Expat foreigners, Douban = Hipsters, Renren = College students, Qzone = Teens in second and third tier cities

See also The Facebooks of China.

And from DigiCha:

The document does not address censorship (See China’s Internet: The Invisible Birdcage for a longer discussion of Internet controls). We all know it is there, and Sunday we got a real time look at some of the layers of control, but this powerpoint focuses on the commercial and product aspects of Weibo.

It is not fair to call Sina Weibo a Twitter clone or knockoff. It is a better designed and more stable product, and Sina’s product roadmap appears to have it heading towards a robust SNS, almost like Facebook. I hope Twitter has people dissecting Weibo, as they could learn a lot.

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