It is difficult to access Chinese online social media. We know the market is massive, but unfortunately, it’s highly segmented.
In western web, when you talk about social networks, always it’s either Facebook or Linkedin; when talk about microblogging, it’s Twitter; For Group buying, it’s clearly Groupon; even for LBS which is relatively new and not that mature, it’s Foursquare taking the lead. But in China, things are getting funny and complicated.
You may not need me remind you of some old stories such as Chinese social networks (RenRen, Kaixin001 etc), Video services (Youku, Tudou etc), Groupon (Lashou, Meituan, Manzuo etc) and so on. The latest news like Sina’s microblogging service which is quite popular, but don’t forget other big portals Tencent, Sohu etc are offering the same. Their services are not strong as Sina’s, but can you ignore? I bet you would not; For location based service, Chinese also has plenty of choice, Jiepang, Kaikai, Qieke etc; even for Android app store, there are a few options, Aimi8, gFan, eoeMarket etc.
So it becomes tricky when you want to access Chinese social market as you have to spent effort on several of them. The good news is that we see some smart guys has picked up the opportunities building up some Aggregator service. For example, to access multiple Chinese microblogging service, now we have web-based Masar.cn to help you post your tweet on all your microblog accounts simultaneously, and iPad applications such as Super Weibo offering similar feature. But still, for a user it’s not convenient as your friends networks are also segmented; and for market research or social media analysis, it’s painful as you have to expect all those platforms opening their data for you.
During the visit to Silicon Valley last week, I’ve been to several shopping mall to buy some gift. I am quite impressed that at the entry of every mall I visited, I always see some huge displays showing the malls’ official Facebook, Twitter and even Foursquare accounts to interact with their customers.
I used to write about the loyalty in Chinese web. To find the loyalty in a highly segmented market, seems a question without solution. It’s a pity, but some people also see it as opportunity because anyhow there is always room for another similar service, doh…