Know Your Chinese Social Media(The New York Times)

A worker in costume waiting for visitors at a booth for the Chinese microblogging website Sina Weibo at the Global Mobile Internet Conference last year in Beijing. The site has 430 million active users a month.CreditCreditMark Schiefelbein/Associated Press

The article first appeared on The New York Times.

Sina Weibo

If you want to go viral on social media or gain a mass audience in China, get on Weibo, China’s Twitter and now the country’s most popular microblogging site.

INTRODUCED August 2009, by the Chinese technology company Sina Corporation

USAGE 430 million active users a month (for comparison, Twitter has about 326 million)

CONTENT Official news channels have large followings, but there is little political content that is user-generated because censors quickly remove anything that is deemed sensitive. As a public platform, it’s a launchpad of viral content and the place where online influencers, known as Key Opinion Leaders (K.O.L.s), go to amass a following — and perhaps turn their popularity into brand ambassador roles. Live streaming has become a crucial component of Weibo’s offerings (the platform just acquired its live-streaming partner, Yizhibo) and is a major tool for K.O.L. engagement with their followers. In addition, Weibo Stories, which is similar to Instagram Stories, also allows users to upload short visual content.

A STAR Gogoboi, whose real name is Ye Si, has been called China’s most famous fashion K.O.L. He was catapulted to fame when the actress Yao Chen — whose fan base of 80 million is one of the platform’s largest — retweeted a post. Today, he has 9.3 million followers, and Gogoboi’s one-hour backstage live stream of the Victoria’s Secret show on Nov. 8 had been watched 2.5 million times by Nov. 12.


If you rolled all your phone apps into one, the result would be close to WeChat.

INTRODUCED January 2011 by Tencent, one of China’s top tech companies

USAGE With one billion monthly active users, it is the most popular messaging app in China.

CONTENT Primarily a messenger app, WeChat can be used to do everything from hailing a cab to booking a hospital appointment — and payments can be made by WeChat Pay. But WeChat is a closed platform and account holders can see only what their friends post, which means brands can interact with subscribers on a personalized level. José Neves, founder of the e-tailer Farfetch, said at The New York Times International Luxury Conference last week in Hong Kong that, for a brand, “the first and foremost platform for your direct presence as a brand in China is WeChat.” The platform’s Mini Programs, third-party “apps” that run in WeChat without requiring downloads, increased to more than one million in 2018, used by brands such as Burberry, H&M, Dior and Longchamp.

A STAR Mr. Bags, the 26-year-old Tao Liang, has more than 4.6 million Weibo followers and 870,000 followers on his WeChat public account. He has collaborated with the likes of Montblanc and Givenchy and, in June, introduced a “BaoShop” Mini Program to sell a limited-edition bag created in collaboration with Tod’s. The bag sold out within six minutes and generated 3.24 million rmb, or $465,615, in sales.

Douyin, or Tik Tok

Douyin (its international version is known as Tik Tok) is the younger, edgier “new kid” live-streaming site with shareable, snappy video content, as well as memes and GIFs to which users can add music, sound effects and emoticons.

INTRODUCED November 2017

USAGE 154 million active users a month

CONTENT Many of the K.O.L.s who were propelled into public view just a couple of years ago on live-streaming platforms like YY and Huajia are jumping ship to Douyin. The platform is popular with Generation Z, those younger than 24, but that youthful mass audience hasn’t deterred fashion and luxury brands from creating official accounts. “The young are the ones who dare to spend in China,” said Ms. Wang of Forrester, who attributes Douyin’s success to a truly mobile-led era in which 79 percent of shoppers buy on their cellphone. “Douyin also has powerful machine learning capabilities, which means it continuously pushes content it knows the viewer will like, keeping them hooked.”

A STAR Michael Kors was the first international label to debut on the platform. On the Chinese festival that is the equivalent of Valentine’s Day, which was in August this year, Christian Dior introduced the Dioramour bag with five videos, including one from Angelababy, the K.O.L. who is a brand ambassador. In three months, and with 47 video posts, the channel now has more than 208,000 followers.

Read the full article on The New York Times.

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