China Social Networks: Cool Girls to Hipsters

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.

While the world’s big focus these days is on Renren preparing to go public, these other networks deserve a look:

Douban – a more specialized social networking site, attracts art students and those passionate about books, cinema, culture, and music. Users connect according to their interests and often hold offline activities, such as trips to local art exhibitions.

Kaixin001 – a platform designed for a more mature audience of young professionals, has a membership that is heavily dominated by white collar workers in Beijing; Guangzhou, Guangdong; Shanghai; and second-tier cities. Users do not upload personal content but rather share information they find elsewhere, often relating to health, relationships, and professional advancement.

QZone – the first and largest social networking site in China, attracts youth from teens through age 25, often from second- and third-tier cities. A sizable portion of migrant workers, many of whom share personal diaries in a blog-like format, use QZone.

RenRen – the platform in China most similar to Facebook, attracts university students who use the platform to connect and interact with classmates. The site is organized around users’ school and graduation class. Many users upload videos and photos of their activities.

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

The Ogilvy Beijing social media team created the below archetypes to bring these personalities to life. Another posting that has generated a good deal of interest is the Beijing team’s infographic of China’s social media equivalents. The equivalents graphic will soon be updated, so suggestions welcome!

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