China tops US on Web 2.0

02 May 2011

BEIJING: Internet users in China are more engaged with a variety of Web 2.0 activities than is the case in the US, a study has revealed.

Research firm Netpop polled 1,253 Americans and 1,221 Chinese consumers, and found habits in the two countries differed substantially.

Firstly, 93% of China's netizens undertake Web 2.0 pastimes like social networking, utilising "virtual worlds", blogging and uploading photos, declining to 73% in the US.

One reason for this may be that the average age of individuals pursuing such tasks stands at 28.1 years old in the Asian economy, and 39.1 years old in the Western market.

Men made up 55% of the social media audience in the former nation, measured against 44% concerning the latter, figures reaching 63% and 37% for possessing a college education.

Socially-engaged respondents in both geographies spent over four hours using the net on a typical weekday, but 40% of China's connected community regularly involve themselves in six or more Web 2.0 categories, nearly four times the US total.

However, 46% of Americans were defined as "light contributors" frequently pursuing between one and three such activities, a group yielding 33% of China's online population.

Further, 27% of panellists from the US were "non-contributors" in this area, a statement true for just 7% of their Chinese contemporaries.

In all, 41% of Chinese internet users added posts to social networks, as did 39% of their US counterparts.

The gap widened elsewhere, as penetration rates hit 50% and 27% in turn for rating and reviewing products, while attaining 42% and 10% when discussing microblogging.

Participants in China also displayed greater uptake regarding uploading photos, video and podcasts, writing and commenting on blogs - registering 47% versus 12% for the US - and tagging content.

Similarly, China's social media user base visited an average of 10.9 Web 2.0 sites in the 30 days before the survey, but Americans viewed 3.1.

A 90% majority of this audience in China, and 81% in the US, had logged on to a social network during this period, and 93% of Chinese consumers accessed content-sharing sites, compared with 55% in the US.

In the latter nation, Facebook achieved a monthly penetration of 73% among social media users, beating YouTube's 49% and Craigslist's 34%, double the score of MySpace, in fourth on this metric.

In China, video platforms Youku and Tudou each delivered over 60%, Sina Weibo had 54%, Renen lodged 52%, and four other portals recorded more than 40%.

Overall, 92% of China's social netizens have chosen to connect with brands, incorporating 62% signing up as a "follower" on a microblog and 58% becoming a "fan" via a social network.

By contrast, 31% of Americans had opted to "like" a company or product through services such as Facebook, dropping to 12% for assuming a parallel status on properties like Twitter.

In confirmation of the broader trends, 62% of relevant Chinese interviewees had forged bonds with a minimum of 11 brands, a position held by only 18% of their US peers.

"The social media landscape in China is fragmented across many sites, and Chinese contributors use many more social sites, on average, than their US counterparts," Netpop's study said.

"Ultimately, marketers must take these differences in attitudes and behaviors into account when weighing how much (or little) to invest in social marketing initiatives."

Data sourced from Netpop; additional content by Warc staff