Despite the love or hate towards social networks recently, for an expatriate especially, if he or she is the kind of person whom fancies Chinese culture and wants to make some Chinese friends, a convenient and fast way is to do so via social networks in China. For many reasons, social networks in China have been incredibly popular in recent years. Various social networking sites and apps have triggered fiercer competition than ever before. Below is a brief introduction to some popular social networking sites and apps in China.
QQ is the most owned and frequently used social software in China, with almost 1 billion registered users and over 100 million logged in users at any one time. According to the media, users are distributed from 10 to 60 years old and from manual labor workers to white collar staff. Additionally, reasons to use QQ are plentiful: to get in touch with friends and relatives, communicate with colleagues, do business with clients, look for strangers with similar interests etc. In line with other popular concurrent communication apps, QQ has multiple functions including: texting, voice, video and group chat, file sending (online and offline), remote control (permission required), screen, music, video and even real-time document sharing online etc. It is free software but you have to pay an extra fee to activate additional services.
Though Weibo does not have as long a history as QQ and the amount of users do not compare with it. However, as one of the newly developed social networks, its growth and potential are noticeable with over 30% of internet users actively using the service. It is always said that Weibo is an equivalent to Twitter, which provides the same microblogging service globally. Nowadays, Weibo begins to provide more functions than Twitter and has expanded its business to other areas as well. You can upload your text, pictures and video on Weibo and share with millions of Weibo users instantly. Voice messages are also allowed if you send private messages. Long blogging, multiple pictures posting and playing online games have been added as new functions, Weibo looks more like a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook.
Akin to What’s App, Wechat is a mobile text and voice message communications app developed by Tencent (The same company behind QQ). It is by far the largest communication app in the market with over 4 billion registered users and up to 3.55 million monthly active users. Unlike What’s App, Wechat is a free app and does not limit you to message communication only. Wechat allows you to shake your mobile phone to find nearby users and make friends with strangers. It has a public platform in which companies can have a certified accounts and promote their products and services with followers. The Wechat wallet function gives the ability to pay by simply scanning the QR code provided in the specified stores. Moreover, users can have fun on the newly developed game platform and let them compete with each other. It is also worth mentioning that the most enjoyed function is sharing in circles of friends, which lets you post your favorite pictures, videos and share your mood and recent events instantly.
Tieba is a miscellaneous social networking site in which you can discuss almost every topic you can think of. It is the largest Chinese online community and there are approximately ten billions registered users and over 21 billions views in total. On this site, “Ba” is similar to a discussion group with a specified topic. However, in some Ba's, due to moderators, you can discuss almost whatever you want and as a result, it has become a classic Ba which attracts lots of people. Right now, a lot of famous internet memes come from Tieba and it has had a strong impact on Chinese netizens.
Douban is a specialized social networking site, attracting avid people with interests such as books, movies, music and culture. People can comment, discuss and share with other users and they can even open a discussion group with a specified topic for longer and closer engagement.
Renren is a school-oriented social networking site in which people mainly connect with their schoolmates. Often Chinese accused it of being a Facebook clone because it looks very similar to it. The information on this site is organized around classes and schools and usually, users utilize this site to find out their “lost” classmates. Similar to Facebook, users can share their photos, videos and activities.
Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, which has a long history and was colonized by the United Kingdom hundereds of years ago. It
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