Social network use varies in US, UK and China

25 March 2010

LONDON: Consumers in the US, UK and China are displaying varying preferences and behaviours when it comes to using social networks.

Twentysix, the digital agency, conducted a survey of 900 people based in the US, UK and China, who regularly utilised social media services.

It found that nearly half of the participants in China accessed these Web 2.0 platforms while at work, almost double the total recorded in the UK, and also out-performing the US on this measure.

More than a quarter of the panel in the Asian nation frequently logged-on to such sites using their mobile phone, a figure that fell to 19% in the UK, and 14% in the US.

With regard to marketing, over two-thirds of Chinese contributors stated that they often responded to special offers made available on this kind of property.

By contrast, just 42% of Americans agreed with this assertion, compared with 40% of their British counterparts.

"Social media has caught on massively in China in the past few years, with local providers taking up most of the volume," said Rachel Clarke, head of social media at Twentysix.

"Whereas the West has to make do with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn, China has a thriving ecosystem based around dozens of networks."

The most popular options in the latter country at present include QQ, Renren, Sina Spaces and, while many widely-used services in the US and Europe are yet to make major in-roads.

"Western sites like Facebook barely crack the top fifteen in China," said Clarke.

She added that some of the portals headquartered in the world's most populous country are currently "leading the way" when it comes to building viable business models.

"User behaviour is ... markedly different, with many of these sites making millions of dollars through sales of virtual avatars and applications," said Clarke.

"Online advertising – the main source of income from US and UK social networks – doesn't have nearly as much impact."

The Nielsen Company, the research firm, recently published a study showing that social media usage levels have greatly increased in both the US and UK.

According to CNNIC, a Chinese government agency, a third of the domestic online audience, estimated to stand at more than 384 million people, had joined a social network by the end of last year.

RG:3C also revealed this month that many of the most-recalled online marketing efforts by brands in the fast-growing market related to their presence on Kaixin001, another local networking site.

Data sourced from Daily Telegraph; additional content by Warc staff