Social Media in China
Ever wondered what the equivalent of Facebook or Instagram was in China? Or if there was even a social media app other than WeChat that was used? Here’s a short overview of China’s most popular and frequently used apps.
The most popular form of Social Media in China is WeChat. Everyone and their mother uses this app in China and it is even called the modern day 名片 (mingpian) or business card.
While WeChat’s main function is instant messaging, voice and video calls, the possibilities are endless. From group chats to sharing moments and promoting business, WeChat appears to be a combination of Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook.
One of WeChats functions that is growing in popularity is the wallet function. While less frequently used than Alipay, WeChat Wallet can be used in most stores, cafe’s and taxi’s.
Entrepreneurs can create “shops” and malls or clubs can create pages where they update their customers as often as they please with promo’s and new arrivals. How do you keep track of everything going on? Easy, once you’ve discovered a page you’re interested in you click the follow button and voila! All of your pages will be put together under the Subscriptions group in your chats.
WeChats older sibling is QQ. Upon asking which western app QQ is like, the majority answered Facebook. QQ has all of the functions that WeChat has but is a bit more complicated to use, which is why WeChat is preferred nowadays. On QQ you can send and receive emails, share documents and photos and write long text posts. The platform you decide to share your posts on depends on how many people you want to reach. It isn’t uncommon for someone on QQ to have 20 000 “friends” as it is seen as more of a public platform.
Quote: “We would die without QQ”.
Weibo is the Chinese platform for microblogs. It is still frequently used but more so by the younger population. This is where people can write whatever their heart desires, whether it be about their life or short stories. The aim of these posts is to generate a following and receive comments from readers. It is used more and more by well known Chinese who can sometimes have 10 million followers – “not such a big deal” they say in China. Sure, it’s just the population of my home country.
Social Media in China comes in all shapes and sizes. An app that stands out from the others is Youxiang, which stands for Mailbox Master. At first glance it appears to be what the name says, a mailbox. However, just as on WeChat, you can subscribe to certain sites and pages which send you the most recent product updates. As with most things in China, it’s all about e-commerce. The main difference with the WeChat pages is that users are more assured that the products they are being shown on Youxiang are of good quality and are usually more expensive.
So where can you buy all the cheap products, you ask? Try Taobao, the “All Powerful” e-commerce site and app that plays a huge roll in the day to day life of students, parents, business owners etc. You need it? Taobao has it! They say it is the app with “hundreds of thousands of possibilities”.
You will be able to find everything from food to clothing and tools for working with leather to exact copies of western brands. You might have already seen those massive piles of boxes outside the postoffice or you might have had a near run in with delivery bikes overloaded with packages.
Taobao may be difficult to navigate with all of the counterfeit and overpriced products, so ask a Chinese friend for help when trying it out!
And how do you pay for all of these services and packages you bought online? The most popular app is Alipay, the reason why Chinese people rarely own a credit card.
Simply link your bank account to the Alipay app (similar process for the WeChat wallet) and transfer money. Alipay has a chat function so if anything goes wrong with a payment to a supplier or shop, you can just chat and solve the issue. Alipay is used to pay for bills and has one very dangerous function. Loans. That’s right! Imagine you are about to get on the subway and you realize you are short on money for a payment. Using Alipay you can request a loan for however much money you need and by the time you’re stepping off the metro, the money will be on your account. Of course there are many requirements and punishments for those who do not pay back their loan on time.