We’ve now covered all the main professional social networks in China. This space in China is gaining a lot of attention due to Linkedin’s recent IPO and valuation of US$4.25bn.

Here are some of the challenges we’ve learnt about building professional SNSs:

Finding users

As Sherman just posted, China only opened up to economic reform in the 1980’s which means it has only had 30 years to create a market of top tier business professionals. Therefore the volume of business professionals is relatively low compared to its massive population. Even for the existing business professionals, they are already highly sought after so don’t need to use online methods to network or find jobs.

Another limiting factor to building a professional online network in China is that reportedly Government state owned enterprises account for over 80% of the economy. Most people know that once you’re in a party role, the perks and benefits are hard to leave, so why would you need to professionally network online if you have it so good already?

Finding loyal users

With at least 5 vying for the top position, it’s a tough battle. It just doesn’t make sense to maintain more than 1 profile on different professional networks – it’s time consuming. The challenge is how to make users stick to your SNS with killer value.

Maintaining quality of users

For SNS’s that open up membership to anyone too quickly, it can immensely dilute the quality of users. Some networks have fallen victim to allowing users to become confused if they are really are a professional network or a social network to play around; or feel like the quality of people on the network are somehow useless. That’s why newer networks like Ushi have adopted a closed invite and referral approach. This

Encouraging online interaction

Most careers related aspects in China are still done offline, like finding jobs through friends or past colleagues. Behaviourally, Chinese people are not as open about sharing personal professional information online for anyone to see, although this appears to be evolving. To address this challenge, Tianji is created discussion forum, groups and activities and Hengzhi created applications for the users to manage their daily agenda, such as contact management, Q&A, and Power Point document sharing.

Here is a summary of 5 SNSs we’ve covered:

Source: Interviews, Crunchbase, Insider knowledge, technode.com

Jason Lim

Jason is an Australian born Chinese living in Beijing, specializing in entrepreneurship, start-ups and the investment eco-system in China, especially in the tech and social area.

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7 Comments

  1. I think you should also mention more niche business social networks like CHA1n.COM (http://www.cha1n.com) . Although small in comparison to the five described above, they seem to be doing very well in term of finding users, maintaining quality and spark healthy discussions… nice networks in specific professions or industries might be an interesting revenue model moving forward.

  2. Social networking in China is not even close to reaching its full potential. Chinese people still mostly communicate using QQ or other chat programs. There is much room for growth in this market in China, and players who wish to penetrate this market better hurry.

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    1. Hi, do you think people in China still mainly use QQ because they can hide their true identity (reason for why they always use avatars and not real pictures)?

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