The truth internet companies are terribly secretive about some of the key figures of their social sites that included the number of total registered users and the most crucial one, monthly active users. When figures are released they tended to be out of proportion or simply down right false. Then how do we know if these sites are active or not, especially compared to their competitors? Well, one important aspect of socializing online is sharing contents to your friends and I have compiled data from China’s top social button provider Jiathis.com from the last six months to show the trend of activeness of the top 5 social sites: QZone, Tencent Weibo, Sina Weibo, Renren and Kaixin001.
In the weibo wars, Sina is attacking while Tencent is defending. Sina Weibo is acquiring new users for Sina, while Tencent is channeling existing users to a new service.
An infographic by Edelman (below), copied from an equity report by Credit Suisse [PDF], hammers this point home. Of Tencent Weibo users, 92% are also users of Qzone. In reverse, of Qzone users, 36% are also users of Tencent Weibo.
In other words, Sina can win a new userbase, while the best Tencent can do is not lose.
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 t.qq.com to be a Tencent Weibo user.
In US terms, Tencent’s social hub is as if AIM, MySpace, Facebook, and 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.
Renren is preparing for an IPO today at a $4+ billion dollar valuation–it recently raised its initial share price range upon high investor interest. We can also prepare for a billion articles billing Renren as “The Facebook of China.” Here’s why that’s NOT true.
China’s social networking landscape is diverse and thriving. No single player is nearly as dominant as Facebook in the U.S. and there’s a long tail of networks for different users (urban and rural) and different purposes (social, dating, and games). Here are the top 15 social networks in China.
Tencent recently announced an international social network, with a beta version coming in early 2011. This follows the launch of QQi, the international version of the QQ instant messenger. So is Tencent going international? Not really. As with QQi, the focus of the new social network is to connect Chinese and foreign friends, with a focus on expats. It’s more “China-plus” than it is international.
Mark Zuckerberg has now met with Baidu, China Mobile, Sina, and Alibaba as he explores China’s unique internet landscape. He has a strong natural curiosity towards China and is coming in with a beginner’s mindset: “I’m trying to understand the language, the culture, the mindset – it’s just such an important part of the world. How can you connect the whole world if you leave out a billion-six people?”
In a free market, Facebook would have become China’s leading real-relationship social network. It’s distinctly possible that in 2 years the entire world will be connected on Facebook, without China.
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