What Does Chinese Social Media Look Like?Articles . Blog
So, now we’re going to learn more about the Chinese social media platforms themselves. Let’s start with QQ. Now the first thing to note about QQ is the massive variety of different services that it offers. So if we go here, you can see that QQ offers instant messaging, but it has also got social networking. It has got email. It’s got music and video sharing, on-line search, it’s even got anti-virus software, it’s got television and film streaming services, it’s got it’s own news portal, It’s got gaming features as well, and lots of other features In fact, there’s probably no other platform outside China that has so many features, right? And also, for many Chinese, they have a QQ account way before they own a PC or smartphone and for them, their first email or online gaming all came from QQ. The most social aspects of QQ are probably QQ instant messenger and QZone, right? If we look at the interface of QQ instant messenger, it’s quite similar to the, now-defunct, MSN Messenger. Here users can start a one-to-one or group conversation with their contacts. And they can also access and receive notifications from all those other QQ services. By contrast, if we look at QZone, it features a Facebook-like web-based social networking site But what those two different features, QZone and QQ, have in common is that they are both where users share among their own group of friends. But they’re actually quite different from the Western social media platforms you’ve been comparing them to. Look, on QZone users can also decorate and design their homepage with amazing patterns and themes and they do, which gives QZone a very colourful and diverse look. Yeah absolutely, totally different from the plain blue and white that you see on Facebook. Exactly, and we’ve both seen people spend hours beautifying their QZone. Also users can check into QZone to record their visits which highlights the fact that people see QZone as a place that they visit. Moving on, Xinyuan, WeChat is another really popular social media platform in China. But the one big difference is that you have to use a smart phone to use the platform. And also WeChat supports one-to-one and group messaging. Also users can follow public official accounts, quite similar to on Twitter. Also we should look at the Moments feature because that’s the most social aspect of WeChat. On Moments people use it to share videos and photos and text with their friends, right? And also, look, WeChat has a ‘People Nearby’ function which uses the phone’s GPS to display a list of people sorted by gender who are both physically nearby and using the same function. And, talking of connecting with strangers, WeChat’s ‘Shake’ function allows you to shake your smart phone like this, and get connected with strangers who are doing the shaking at the same time. Look, I just found a new friend! If we move to look at microblogs such as Tencent and Sina Weibo, they’re often thought of by non-Chinese commentators as being, effectively, the Chinese version of Twitter. And the popularity of Weibo among celebrities as a way for them to directly interact with the public is what gives this platform a lot of visibility. But, unlike QQ and WeChat which mainly facilitate interaction between small groups, actually on Weibo those posts are normally made public by default. Actually in our own fieldsites we found that people didn’t like using these platforms too much. That’s a good point. I think what’s different is that people in our fieldsites seemed to like using social media platforms where you really need to get to know them very well and become their friends before they are happy to give you access to what they post And because they’re the platforms that people really liked to use, they were the ones that we concentrated on in our research. Exactly. And also our work showed that it makes no sense to study one single platform because in daily life people actually use a range of social media platforms for different purposes. In the next video we’re going to look at an anthropological theory that might help us understand that.
Written by Michelle Gutierrez
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