Chinese enthusiasm for social media tails off sharply, quality of content concerns.
The number of Chinese who feel positive about social media has dropped by 12.1 percentage points from last year to 64.7%.
Chinese social media users are increasingly concerned with the impact social media is having on their lives, as the number of people who feel positive about social media has dropped by 12.1 percentage points from last year to 64.7%.
The second annual Kantar China Social Media Impact Report also found that social media is now used by more age groups, by less educated people and in smaller cities, while Tencent WeChat has become the dominant social media leader of an increasingly mobile connected country.
Kantar, the data investment management division of WPP, carried out this year’s report through data mining, Weibo text mining, WeChat article text mining and online polling. The research covers 60 Chinese cities, 66,000 respondents, 2 million Sina Weibo posts and 711 million WeChat article reads.
For the online polling part of the research, 64.7% of 13,341 participants said social media’s impact is positive, 12.1 percentage points lower than a year ago. While 12.2% of respondents said social media made their lives worse, nearly doubling last year’s 6.7%. The rest, 23.2%, felt social media had a neutral impact, higher than 16.5% a year ago. This gives us an overall average satisfaction score of 68.0, compared to last year’s 73.4.
The continuous survey part of the research captured the shifting profile of Chinese social media users from face-to-face interviews with 53,112 urban residents. Social media’s reach among urban residents has increased to 34% from last year’s 28.6%. People born in 1990s usurped the 1980s generation to become the largest age group (37.7%) and the proportion of older generations also increased at the expense of the 1980s, whose share dropped from 44.8% to 30.8%.
As usual, the full English and Chinese reports and infographics have been released through Kantar China Insights: cn-en.kantar.com, which showcases all the best data on China held by Kantar and its subsidiary companies. It offers journalists an instantly accessible free database of deep statistics and expert commentary on business, tech and consumer issues.
“As social media becomes less new, it is no longer the cool thing to do and loses part of its charm in certain groups”, says Sophie Shen, General Manager of CTR Media & Consumption Behaviour, who led the online polling survey. “More profoundly, social media has penetrated into the lives of Chinese people and they now realise they are spending too much time on it. At
the same time, they are receiving more low-quality and duplicate content, this is why the proportion of `zero interaction’ social users increased by 7 percentage points to 46%.”
“The higher penetration of social media has also increased people’s concerns about their privacy. Many people have been disturbed by their `virtual friends’, which would not have happened without social media,” Sophie added.
To understand the sentiment and behaviour of social media users, this study also includes two text mining projects on WeChat and Weibo. CIC, Kantar’s specialist social media research agency in China, followed 711,276,971 WeChat users’ clicks on 50 influential subscription accounts to understand what topics are most widely read and what makes a popular subscription account. The monitoring period was between 1st August and 15th November 2014.
It found that 15 entertainment accounts made the Top 50 and attracted 49% of total clicks followed. Though there are 10 news and information accounts in the Top 50 list, they garnered only 5% of all reads.
The average reads per post for the Top 50 was 39,531, while average likes was 154. Surprisingly, these influential accounts don’t need a large volume of posts to be successful; on average an account published just 21 posts each week. For the top three, the average was even lower at 16 posts.
CIC’s Weibo monitoring project pulled 2,098,575 posts filed by 10,000 Weibo users over a full year (16th November 2013 to 15th November 2014) to analyse what people were talking about.
Entertainment is still the largest category (25.4%), followed by news events 19.6%, health and beauty (15.7%), work and study (14.3%), travel (12%) and others (13%). Though some suspect that social media users tend to appear negative, CIC’s analysis of emoticons found the opposite: 67% emoticons are positive, 33% are negative.
“China's social media landscape continues to develop at a rapid pace and it is critical that marketers utilize systematic research to better understand how consumers ultimately use different platforms like Weibo and WeChat to create, receive and share information,” said Sam Flemming, CEO & Founder of CIC. “We believe that while WeChat is clearly a dominant platform, China is not a 'winner takes all' environment. Weibo serves as the ‘pulse' of China and WeChat subscription accounts serving as a new form of a modern, more shareable magazine. This research illustrates how they can be best used to reach consumers in meaningful, compelling and effective ways.”
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