There is a common misconception, especially amongst communications and marketing experts, that China’s social media landscape is limited by the censorship laws that prohibit citizens from participating in the most popular global social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many Google apps.

But those assumptions are not really accurate. In fact, China has created its own unique social media landscape that enjoys enormous usage among hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens, of all ages.

What makes China’s platforms so popular?  

Many of its platforms go beyond simply sharing photos with friends, updating statuses and pressing a ‘like’ button. Some of the most popular social channels are replacing traditional mobile phones and changing how Chinese people communicate on daily basis, both for personal and business.

In rural regions of China, where telecommunications is restricted, these social media platforms allow people without phones to stay connected.

According to Statista, one of the world’s leading statistics companies, more than 61% of social media users in China don’t reveal their true identity on most platforms. This is unlike Facebook, which only allows accounts to be opened using a person’s real name and requires verification.

According to Michael Anti, a Chinese journalist and political blogger, “in a culture that values privacy, being able to use an online alias has been a key factor in the rapid rise in social media platforms and uptake.”

What’s next for China’s social media landscape?  

The rise of social media platforms, not only in China, but also around the world, has been staggering.

While China continues to block platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, the rise in the number of users on Chinese social media networks showcases the need for voices to be heard and people to be connected.

China’s social media landscape may seem impenetrable to the outside. However, once inside, one sees a well-oiled machine that allows its citizens to enjoy all of the benefits social media that the rest of the world enjoys, but under the careful eye of its government. China hasn’t left its citizens without social media. Rather it’s copied the best ones.

And many brands, especially luxury brands in China have begun to capitalize on the popularity of these social media channels. Major luxury brands such as Chanel, Lancôme, Dior and others have used these platforms to tap into China’s appetite for goods and services.

To find out about 11 of the most popular social media platforms in China head to Medium for our long-read.

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