Social media possess certain benefits and advantages; therefore, it has become a common and popular mean of communication and networking for people around the world. Moreover, social media has also become a popular tool for businesses and organizations because it allows the former to interact with consumers and the latter, to achieve their aims and goals. Although social media fulfills the same functions for the entire population around the world, local policies on how people should use or administer social media differ. China, for instance, follows the world concept and conventions in its social media policy; however, the local government’s censorship policies limit the information and platforms that users can access in the World Wide Web. Due to these restrictions, local social media enthusiasts and platform developers come up with their own version of popular international websites, like Facebook and Twitter. Chinese developers created an equivalent social media platforms for every site and online communication or sharing tool, limited from their use.
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In China, people use social media platforms, like Sina Weibo, which is similar to Twitter, and Douban, KaixinOO 1, QZone, and RenRen, which are similar to Facebook. The Chinese counterparts of Twitter and Facebook employ the same concept and mechanisms of social media; however, the means to meet the specific needs of local users in China are slightly different. Like Twitter, Sina Weibo allows users to microblog and post status updates within the 140-character limit. In addition, the developers of Sina Weibo made the microblogging site more interactive by allowing users to post videos and photos, and comment on the status updates of their peers. Moreover, Sina Weibo is more user friendly to businesses and organizations that make announcements and promote news through the Internet service because they can post more information despite the character limit. In China, various counterparts of Facebook were customized to host the varying needs of users. Douban, for instance, is ideal for users who are interested in popular culture, art, literature, movies, and music. KaixinOO 1, on the other hand, suits for adults better because the site allows them to share their relationship and career development status. If KaixinOO 1 is for adults, QZone is for teens and youth, and RenRen is for college and university students.
Similarity and difference between social media in China and the USA
Based on the differences between local and international social media platforms, Chinese developers created sites that are well-suited to the specific needs of each market segment in China. These web services were modified, to meet the unique requirements and interests of the Chinese user. The importance of interaction and sharing opinions to Chinese users is proven by the abundance of online bulletin board systems (BBS), which originally were developed in the country. BBS sites allow users to talk about certain topics or issues with the option of using a pseudonym so they can express their opinions freely. Aside from BBS, Chinese developers also created Tudouo and Youku, which are the counterparts of YouTube, allowing users to share their videos online. Tudouo and Youku are similar video-sharing websites to YouTube. Chinese users use those sites differently from the Americans, who share many different types of videos on YouTube. Chinese users prefer to use Tudouo and Youku professionally for the business matters. Most videos are longer than the average three-minute reels that people upload on YouTube. Moreover, professionals use Tudouo and Youku to demonstrate their production and services, like a television show. American users often visit YouTube to browse through the wide selection of various videos about different people and things; on the other hand, most Chinese users visit Tudouo and Youku with the religious purpose. These web services have become a regular part of the Chinese viewing experiences, as Tudouo and Youku has already replaced television networks, in the country.
If using social media networking in China differs slightly from international sites, like Facebook, Twitter, and BBS, the benefits and function of such sites yield similar results to businesses and organizations. Businesses use Facebook and Twitter, primarily, to promote their products and services to target market segments; secondly, conduct market research by monitoring online conversations and trends. Although Chinese businesses employ different social media platforms, they use those sites for the same reason. Chinese businesses also monitor social media sites to get to know their consumers better by studying or identifying common interests and preferences and launching products and services that suit those needs and demands best. Moreover, like international businesses, businesses in China also use their local social media sites to handle major issues and problems, like consumer suggestions, recommendations, complaints, and protests. Overall, local and international businesses and organizations utilize social media to their advantage by means of processing information received from online users, to improve the quality of their products and services.
The examples, previously discussed, show the similarities and differences between social media in China and the USA. While the Chinese social media platforms, except BBS, were patterned after American Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, the target audience and function of Chinese sites differ from the one of the American-based platforms. Facebook and Twitter, for instance, are open to everyone and target general population. However, the counterparts of Facebook and Twitter in China differ because various sites have a specific audience. Moreover, Chinese developers improved their Twitter counterpart to promote what is important to them – sharing and interaction. Chinese users employ the YouTube counterparts differently, as viewing videos online is similar to television viewing, and thus, they visit Tudouo and Yuoku frequently for regular programming. Moreover, the videos on Tudouo and Yuoko are mostly professional ones, and they differ from the amateur videos often seen on YouTube. Although social media used in China through the counterparts of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube differ from social media used in America, the way local and international businesses and organizations employ social media is similar. Like American companies, Chinese businesses also utilize social media sites to launch and promote their products and services, conduct marketing research, and address consumer needs and demands.