China, with more than 300 million users, has one of the world’s most active social media communities according to a report by McKinsey. And with a potential user base of 513 million internet users, there is still plenty of room to grow. That said, the Great Firewall of China has led the country to create its own social networks, shaping a social media landscape quite different than that of Western nations. So while there is no Facebook, YouTube or Twitter in China, there is RenRen, Youku and Sina Weibo.
A noteworthy exception is LinkedIn, which introduced a Chinese beta site late last month. The English version of LinkedIn has been available in China for about a decade, and has 4 million users. However the new Chinese language LinkedIn will encourage Chinese business professionals who prefer to communicate and network in their native language to create an account on the site.
Foreign nationals, and a small percentage of native Chinese internet users (about 1%) use VPN and other technologies to try to get around the Great Firewall to access blocked websites. Even so, the homegrown Chinese social networks have hundreds of millions of users and aren’t going away any time soon. In other words, while Linkedin is welcome, it’s unlikely to become a dominant leader in China’s social media landscape.
Photo from LinkedIn