Global Social Media

By Jillian Fraccola

Globalization has created an opportunity for brands to offer products to consumers abroad. The most cost-effective way to reach these potential audiences is through social media. The four most popular social networks based on share of minutes are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat. See the chart below for details across countries. For more insights into social media use check out this website .

These four platforms dominate most country’s social media options for consumers. However, the most populous country, China, blocks these western based sites from its citizens. Instead, two popular Chinese social media sites are WeChat and Weibo. As most brands look to China as an emerging market for their goods or services, it is crucial to understand how to communicate with potential customers on these channels because they are used very differently than the big four mentioned earlier.

Weibo has around 497 million monthly active users and is structured similarly to Twitter with a 140 character limit, but 140 characters in Mandarin is much more descriptive than 140 characters in English. It has evolved into a mini blog like site. Companies can use this to communicate with customers more in depth than Twitter communications. This platform is also used to communicate with celebrities and influencers that have accounts. WeChat is very popular, 1.15 billion users, and has much more functionality than any one of the US based social media apps. WeChat has seen a 6.3% increase in monthly active users year over year. The multiple functions come from apps within the WeChat app. It started out as a messaging app, but it has added functions as it has evolved. A social feature is called Moments where users upload photos and videos and other users can like or comment on the post. Payments are enabled in the app so users can pay for groceries or other items by scanning the app in addition to merchant payments there is also a Venmo like feature where users can transfer money to each other. These functions make it very easy for users to go cashless. Users can hail taxis (like Uber) and this is such a versatile app that many professionals prefer to communicate via WeChat instead of email. Watch below for everything you need to know about WeChat…

What does this mean for brands expanding to China? They have to be on WeChat and Weibo. If brands have their own apps that they expect customers to download and use,

 1. It may not be allowed in China

2. You can’t expect a user base that is used to operating in an all-inclusive environment like WeChat, to download another app. Brands need to speak to consumers on a platform they are already using.  

Brands have to adapt their existing strategy to fit consumers in different geographics and use different social media apps

This Article Has 4 Comments
  1. Anthony Ebel says:

    Hey Jillian, great write up! Super interesting looking at the data chart and how share of time on social networks can vary country to country. Even more interesting when thinking about china and how companies are trying to break through to maximize brand potential.

    I’m curious to see in the next 10 years if China continues to have the grip they do in terms of social media, or if that will begin to lighten up. We’ll see!

  2. Brandon Hargrave says:

    When you look at the graph it is almost unbelievable that Facebook can be so globally dominate. When you include the fact that they also own Instagram, they have monopolized peoples social media usage.9 of those countries use just those two or a minimal amount (less than ~3%) of a third app.

    In the past we have seen that everything that dominates a market eventually falls, but when I look at that graph I can’t help but think that what ever the next big thing is, it might not have even been created yet. It will be very interesting to see how they can take market share from not only Facebook but Instagram as well. The most interesting current app to see on a global scale is WeChat, the dominate app in China. With all companies thinking about how to capitalize in the Chinese market perhaps it will create a need for WeChat to expand.

  3. Ashley Peters says:

    I completely agree with what you’re saying in regards to knowing the social media your target market is using because using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat tactics for markets in China would be pointless as they don’t have access to these platforms. Given I know little to nothing about WeChat, the video you attached was super informative. I thought it was just another message app similar to GroupMe but it turns out it does just about everything which makes me wonder why it isn’t more popular in the States?

  4. Ben Feng says:

    Great data Jillian. So interesting that Facebook dominates time spent. Wonder what percentage of that time is idle time.

    If WeChat has so many strong features, why isn’t it more popular in other countries? Is google trying to do similar things here in the States?

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