Overview of social network services in China
According to China Internet Network Information Center statistic report, the most popular China social network services in 2013 are QQ and Weibo (sina and Tecent). Weibo and instant message as new SNS applications have taken large part of SNS market. Although there was an obvious decease in the traditional SNS website users, still more than 50% netizen had used Qzone in the past year. Kaixin, Pengyou, Renren and Douban are still having a big influence in Chinese Internet users’ life.
Non-price dimensions and differentiation of products and services are important points among the competition. Share/repost information, watch video/listen to the music, Release log/diary/comments, upload picture, and update new status are the main purposes when we use SNS, which we can find in nearly all the SNS websites. On the other hand, Qzone as a bundled website of Tencent QQ, it has many unique benefit. Tencent says their peak simultaneous users are down to 180 million(Tencent 1998), and the coverage of Tecent qq is around 90% .
New entrants in China social network services
Granted, the whole China social network services industry barrier is not quite high. Unlike instant message, SNS don’t need servers to centralized manage. SNS as a platform is not only faster but also more convenient. Using online game for instance, SNS only need a bank charges interface instead of large cost of bandwidth to build a new game. Relevant talents are easy to find. Programmers are called ‘peasant laborer’ in the IT field which means talents barrier is low.
Substitute products of social network services
As smart phone usage continues to increase, the time users spend on traditional SNS website is taken by mobile SNS. According to the report of CNNIC (33th China Internet network development state statistic report 2013, p.10), instant message has the highest coverage (86.9%) among all the Chinese netizen. Traditional SNS websites and Weibo are following after it (60.7% and 55.4% separately). At the same time, Weichat as a mobile instant messaging is developing very fast which is used by 61.9% netizen.
Speaking of Qzone, it attaches to Tencent QQ which is most popular and oldest instant message in China. In that way, the user of Qzone is more stable than other traditional SNS. People can check it anytime and anywhere using mobile phone and PC.
Profil of China social network services users
The chat below illustrates the age distribution of SNS users from 2009 to 2013(CNNIC 2009-2013). Age 20 to 29 users took the dominate position in SNS. Followed by age 30-39 users, this figure increased in this five years. And most important thing is students have not any income. They may choose other SNS websites which are more interesting and less cost easily. However, Qzone users’ age range is larger because of the coverage of QQ. Many users have income and want to spend money on the game attached to Qzone or Qzone decoration.
It has to be admitted that the application of smart phone has changed people’s life considerably. From researching case, we can figure out that what people like is changing with the trend. Traditional SNS website and new mobile application are not conflict by nature.
Overall, a successful SNS should have huge users, and optimize website user experience, improve customer satisfaction, improve user stickiness and the degree of active membership. China social network services still have great potential.
Amy Wang, online consulting China
See also : The NY Times