Local social media platforms and mobile applications are flooding the market. Some are used worldwide, others are local phenomena. And then there are the copycats. These copy networks are the spitting image of the original Facebook or Instagram, but are fine-tuned for their local markets.
Sometimes the local copies have more users than the original, and better features too. Our guest blogger Juliana Loh has examined these and compared some of the copies with its original counterparts, giving great insights and ideas to companies ready to take the plunge into Asian markets and their social spheres.
Social networking: Ren Ren vs. Facebook
There have been, and still are, various Chinese versions and copies of Facebook, but hands-down Ren Ren is the most popular. Ren Ren has a wide range of users, targeting to business professionals and white collar workers. So it is a suitable platform for brands to create a presence. It’s also the top app for download on iTunes, and free.
The other close competitor platform is Kaixin, but it has a larger demographic of students.
Microblog: Sina Weibo vs. Twitter
The sheer volume of netizens on the microblog Weibo beats Twitter handsdown. On the first day of the Chinese New Year this year, 32 312 tweets/messages were sent in one (!) second at the stroke of midnight on Weibo.
The interface is interactive and has always had the thumbnails of images and videos, which Twitter only recently implemented.
Most foreign luxury brands use Weibo, and some only post in English. Even President Obama himself uses it to spread his pre-campaign message. Many expats in China, or foreign celebrities, also have accounts to build their personal brand in the Asian marketplace, all tweeting only in English.
Interesting to note is also that Tencent QQ’s microblog, also called Weibo (to make matters even more confusing!), is catching up with Sina Weibo.
This photo app is linked directly to Sina Weibo, the Chinese microblog and China’s equivalent of Twitter.
Apart from the different filters, there are however many more options in Weico, such as a ‘lomo wall’ and content marked by categories like ‘entertainment’ ‘horror’ ‘humour’ ‘news’ ‘hotspots’ (all linked to Jiepang, the China Foursquare equivalent).
Jiepang is a direct copy of Foursquare. It works the same way, but with a slightly easier navigation and interface.
The icon is a red crab that works the same way as a Foursquare check-in. It allows venues to promote specials, have fun badges and allow the user to see ‘hotspots’, ‘friends nearby’, ‘check-ins’ and tell you ‘how many people are there’.
Messaging chat programs: Weixin vs. Whatsapp (what is it?)
WhatsApp Messenger and Weixin are mobile messaging program apps. Weixin is free to download and has the full functions of the more known Whatsapp, but complete with emoticons. Tencent QQ (equivalent of MSN), is behind Weixin. The user interface has a full English option, so it’s a good way to stay in touch with Chinese friends, as Whatsapp comes at a cost to download. The app also has a photo function with different filters and layouts.
There are also options to find friends with a QR code or import them from your QQ contacts. They go even further by being cheeky to ask you to back up your contacts on your server (and sell the database after?).
Juliana Loh was born and bred in Singapore and has worked in Italy (www.fabrica.it) and then Beijing where she spent 4 years working with the off/online Chinese media landscape before relocating to Hong Kong in February 2011 to set up the social media arm for @swirehotels. She is also editor-in-chief of their recently launched blog. She is responsible for curating and writing all its content, feeding and updating all social media platforms—an integral part of her digital strategy for Swire Hotels. Yes, she’s the multitasking elf behind illuminated screens answering all your tweets @swirehotels,@OppositeHouse @UpperHouse_HKG @EASTHongKong and inquiries on all the Facebook pages in Asia. Follow her tweets: @bilbaobab or 微博 @julianaloh