Menu
Chinese users tire of older social networking sites

Chinese users tire of older social networking sites

WeChat, a messaging app, is disrupting China's social networking market

A profile page on Renren.

A profile page on Renren.

Social networking sites in China that are modeled on Facebook are having a hard time holding on to users, with customers like Beijing resident Shi Yunfeng, drifting away to newer services.

"The user activity has been declining," the 29-year-old said of Renren, a social networking site launched in 2005 and once known as the Facebook of China. Renren has grown stale among Shi's friends, who generally only use it to keep in touch with old classmates.

"My friends don't really use Renren very much anymore," he said. "Now and then I'll look at Renren, but it's never for anything really important."

Last week, a study of the country's Internet users indicated a downward trend for Facebook-like social networking sites, which saw a 7.4 percent decline in users over the past six months, according to the government linked China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). This put total users at 257 million, or 41 percent of China's Internet population.

It was the first time that the sites had shown a user decline since mid-2011, according to the CNNIC. Stiff competition and a lack of innovation are contributing factors, the study said.

But that doesn't mean that social networking products are dead in China. Grabbing all the buzz lately is WeChat, a messaging app similar to WhatsApp, with its own set of features to share photos and posts with friends. It already boasts 396 million monthly active users, most of whom are in China.

"I feel like WeChat is very easy to use," said 35-year-old Yang Juan. "It's an app that's on the phone. You can use it anywhere."

While WeChat isn't a traditional social networking site, Yang uses the product to connect with clients and promote her clothing store. Her WeChat friends number over 1,000.

"By using the app, I feel I can have a closer relationship with my clients," she said. "I'm very satisfied with it, so I don't feel the need to use other social networking sites."

While China has the world's biggest Internet population at 632 million, the government has blocked many top Internet sites and social media services, including Facebook, Google, and Twitter. That has given homegrown companies more power in the local market. But as in the U.S., China's Internet landscape is filled with competitors, who are constantly disrupting established products with newer ones geared for toward a young population.

WeChat, launched in 2011, is just the latest product to shake up the market, said Mark Natkin, managing director for Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting.

Three years ago, China's answer to Twitter, known as Sina Weibo, was then the hottest Internet site in the country, becoming a destination for news, opinion and gossip. But over the years, government censorship cracked down on the more controversial content on the site, taking away some of its allure, according to analysts.

"Then along comes with WeChat, and it includes all these great functions," Natkin said. Users can not only send messages on the app, but follow celebrities, and even buy goods on the service.

"Increasingly, there are fewer and fewer reasons to leave WeChat and go to some other site," he said. "But that's not to say you won't see some other application come along and replace WeChat."

What that product will be is still unknown, but young Chinese users are hungry for new and fresh products, and more than willing to abandon what seems old, Natkin added.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesinstant messagingRenrenSinasocial networkingTencentsocial mediainternetFacebook

Featured

Slideshows

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2015 and 2016 inductees - Darryl Swann, Dave Rosenberg, Gary Bigwood, Keith Watson, Mike Hill and Scott Green - to the inaugural Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed how the channel can collectively work together to benefit New Zealand, the Kiwi skills shortage and the future of the industry. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch
Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Show Comments