freelance translator. freelance project manager, organisator. likes to build bridges.
interested in China, Chinese (digital) culture & new media art, social media, translation & more.

Event: L2_The Social Graph China

On October 14, 2011,  I attended an event organized by the L2, a  thinktank for digital innovation: The Social Graph China.

Speakers: Scott Galloway, Founder L2, Clinical Professor of Marketing, NYU Stern; Doug Guthrie, Dean, The George Washington University School of Business; Jan Stael von Holstein, College fo Design & Innovation, Tongji; Chen Tong, SINA; Li Shanyou,;  Sam Flemming, CIC;  Yi Rangyue,; Zhou Hongyi, Qihoo 360 Technology; Maureen Mullen, L2

Although the event was centering around the luxury brand market in China and a lot was about statistics, there were nevertheless a lot of thought provoking facts and figures mentioned in the presentations.

About SNS in China in general

In China, SNS are everywhere.

Most of the services successful in China started as clones of US services but very quickly left the US models far behind in user experience, user base etc, so that due to the Great Firewall there is no Facebook in China, but there are many Facebooks (Kaixin, Renren …); there is no Twitter, but there is Tencent Weibo, Sina Weibo etc.

Li Shanyou ( explained some of the major differences between the Internet use in China and the West:

For Westerners, the Internet is a library, it is for information retrieval. For Chinese, the Internet is a playground, it is for communication.

For Americans, the Internet is about a better life. For Chinese, the Internet is for escaping life (it stands for freedom). In China, your find a lot of grassroot stars created by the Chinese Internet.

In the US, you find a lot of user generated content. In China, you find a lot of commercial content (foreign TV etc.)

All major Chinese companies are integrating SNS in their web presence.

Given the figures below, it is clear why:

36,2% Internet penetration

50% of Internet users use SNS

33% of users are watching videos each day

58% upload videos

60 millions Chinese watch TV only on the Net

In the last year, everything has been concentrating on Weibo – as Li Shangyou put it : Being on  Weibo is a way of life, a „Social Fiesta“.

On the SNS, some extremely succesful campaigns have taken place – they were not planned: the most famous exemples are VANCL (我是凡客)or Wanglaoji (CRS).

Case Studies

Sina Weibo

Chen Tong from Sina Weibo gave some brandnew impressive figures: Sina Weibo has

200 million users

800.000 really active users

80 million postings / day

48% mobile usage

1,3 million video clips / day

38% of users are based outside Mainland, HK, TW, SG (4.730.000)

On Sina Weibo, you find all the Chinese stars, scholars / writers  (more than on Twitter), Entrepreneurs. The proportion of students went down, now there are more freelancers, entrepreneurs, people working in IT, living mainly in Tier 1 cities in the East of China.

He cited some expamples of how Weibo is influencing politics (the Wenzhou train accident where the news have spread on Sina Weibo before published by traditional media outlets), how the police and other governmental institutions are using Weibo etc.

This breaks the monopoly of Xinhua – for decades, the state news agency was the first channel via which news were distributed. Now it is (Sina) Weibo.

During the conference, he also cited the latest regulations by the government on the use of Weibo (there has been a lot of discussion regarding the rumors spreading on the Internet and especially on Weibo and how to eliminate that – with speculations that the government wants to shut down Sina Weibo or monitor accounts with 50.000 plus followers etc): „The government will serve the people through Weibo“.

Qihoo 360 Technology:

A very interesting case study is the, founded by Zhou Hongyi. His company is focussing on a „safe Internet“, providing free antivirus and security software for PC and mobile phones. (This company, the 3 biggest IT company in China, is the only big player which has no direct western model.)

Zhou is an advocate of the concepts of „free“ and „good user experience“.

The Chinese Internet is perceived by the users as „unsafe“ and his company provides a feeling of security, of trust – the central factor for the future Internet. Through a good user experience, he wants to educate the average user so that they develop a basic understanding for technical issues – as small revolution on personal level.

One of the main elements of his portfolio is a „safe“ browser, used by 50 percent of the Chinese Internet users This browser has a strong recommendation engine which to a very large extent replaces the search engine (Chinese users do not search, they want to have immediate access and „click“) and pushes everything on to the desktop: The look and feel of the browser recalls the iPad: everything is ready to be used immediately and it gives access to the biggest Chinese App store (150.000 apps, 100 million active ussers, 300 million downloads / month) where are the apps are „safe“ to use.

Everything is PC-based because a PC is more open than a Mac – this is necessary to garantee a good integration between computer and mobile phone.

(On the conflict with Tencent  in 2010 on unfair competition see:


Sam Flemming von CIC defined the chinese Internet as „unique, fragmented and dynamic“, with more components used by Chinese users than by Westerners: Blogs (the diary, „about me); BBS (the community, about topics); SNS (closed networks, about relationships) and Weibo (open netword, real time events).

BBS are the mainstream for many users, where consumers exchange opinions about products. These BBS are the main source of information about products for Chinese consumers.

Another case study was (JingDong) by Yi Rangyue, an online retailer. What was most interesting, is the user group: 62% have a higher university degree. 92% are between 18 and 39 years old. In 2009, 70% of the buyers where male, in 2011 this figure dropped to 56%. 75% percent earn more than 3000 RMB / month, 75% live in the eastern cities of BJ; SH; GZ.

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