Our team at iChinaStock created a slideshare “Inside Tencent Weibo.” In the process, it became clear that it’s impossible to introduce Tencent Weibo independently of Tencent’s other social services: QQ Messenger, Qzone (nickname SNS), and Pengyou (real-name SNS). Tencent Weibo is available inside of each–you never even have to go to the t.qq.com domain to be a Tencent Weibo user.
In US terms, Tencent’s social hub is as if AIM, MySpace, a mini-Facebook, and a mini-Twitter were owned by one company, and all cross-promoted and synced to each other. That also explains part of Tencent’s surely inflated user numbers–content is often synced across Tencent’s social services by default, but counts as an “active user” on each. So if you want to understand Tencent’s tangled social web, here’s your slideshow.
A hot (and overly simplified) question of late is “Who is the Facebook of China?” China’s famous IT blogger Keso thinks Tencent is the only company capable of becoming “The Facebook of China,”though our own Sunny Ye sees hope for Sina Weibo.
In terms of China’s social graph, Tencent presently still has a stranglehold on the mass market of Chinese users, even if it has lost elites to Sina Weibo, Renren, and Kaixin001. I think there’s a negligible chance of Tencent winning over elite users, while Sina has a fighting chance of encroaching into Tencent’s territory. From the slideshow:
China’s war of the weibos may not be a winner-take-all market. Sina is entrenched with urban elites while Tencent controls a huge segment of mass market users. 2nd and 3rd tier cities are key battlegrounds as each is aggressively trying to expand beyond its traditional audience.
It will likely be challenging, but not impossible, for Sina Weibo to make progress in lower-tier cities. It is likely near-impossible for Tencent Weibo to capture urban elites. Social networks tend to spread outward from a core of elites.
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