Internet trends: marketing research & predictions

Where’s the Buzz :Facebook targets China

June 29th, 2008 by

facebook in china

Image Source :shanghaiist

Facebook is now available in Worlds biggest Web market,mainland China.With this foray the site is now available in 20 international flavors.Chinese like being anonymous yet the Facebook “China” network has about 283,115 members.The Chinese version of the site in simplified and traditional Chinese can be accessed by going directly to

Believe it or not, not everyone in China can spell western sites names properly.An interesting case study here is Google china. Goooogle? Goggle? Googel? – confused by the myriad of spelling creativity of the Chinese netizens, last year Google China went for one of the worlds shortest domain is considered to be an important step towards localization.

Have a look to the Google China suggestions for the query Facebook.

facebook in google china

1. Facebook already has 3 possible spellings – Facebook, Faceboo & Facebok.None would actually take you to new Facebook china page neither in Google nor in Baidu.

2.”Facebook ???” (Founder) Zuckerberg is more searched than Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s Facebook page. Wen is the only non-American among the top 10 most popular politicians on Facebook & is well ahead of US President George W. Bush.

Facebook has entered into a market where already a slew of local “Facebook clones” & western heavy weight MySpace have been established.CNNIC reports suggests by the end of February 2007, the number of Chinese Internet users has reached 221 million.Among 16-25 years old Chinese youths 61% claim they have a parallel life online (vs 13% in US).

Going by the number of users in various Chinese social networking sites :

  • Xiaonei (Facebook Clone) reported to have 9.8 million active users by 2007.
  • Tencents Q-zone had 105 million active users at the end of last year.
  • Zhanzuo,a mid sized Chinese social networks had about 7 million users by November 2007.
  • UCenter, a customizable Facebook clone from Comsenz ,reported to have over 50,000 UCenters only 3 months after its release last April.
  • claims to have over 60 million users.
  • MySpace China trails its competitors in China, although its adding several hundred thousand new registered users a month. As per company sources it is aiming for more than 10 million registered users by the end of the year.

However there is something beyond mere Facebook “look alike” formula behind the wide adaption of these sites – understanding the Chinese social culture. Xiaonei has a feature called “Market” to sell and buy second hand things mainly addressing students in Chinese universities. UCenter has BBS (bulletin board system) product “Discuz!” integrated with it service. Readwriteweb has an excellent coverage on the localization of the Chinese facebook clones.

Unlike social networking in the U.S., the opportunity in the Asian market is growing as more and more of the region’s 3.8 billion residents come online.Facebook’s recent move outside US is paying off –Facebook is beating MySpace worldwide.However analysts & observers are bearish on the prospects for the Facebook in China

“I am not convinced that Facebook-type social networking Web sites will take off in China. I think that many young Chinese people like anonymity and using plausibly deniable pseudonyms online.Most Chinese universities already have popular BBS or forum Web sites, a type of online activity that is strongly established and very popular in China.” Says Jeremy Goldkorn, editor of

“I’m not sure that Facebook has anything new to offer to Chinese netizens. Chinese netizens are already some of the most social Internet users in the world,” says Sam Flemming, CEO of CIC Data

Zuckerberg has enough to learn from the mistakes of its predecessors.All the best Facebook china.

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