BEIJING: The number of consumers using microblogging services is rising rapidly in China, new research shows.

Enfodesk, a unit of Analysys International, the research firm, estimated that 174m people accessed platforms like Sina Weibo and Tencent's Microblog in Q2 2011.

This marked an increase from 140m during the opening three months of 2011, and also represents a huge expansion on the 56.7m individuals who did the same during Q2 2010.

Enfodesk suggested Tencent, with 90m active users, was the primary beneficiary of this trend, as it invested in TV advertising and attracted attention by encouraging celebrities to use its service.

Tencent reported in May that its microblog had 160m registered accounts, and last month announced a tie-up with TVB, the biggest privately-run Chinese-language television network.

This deal included creating a bespoke microblog service for TVB, while stars of programmes shown on TVB will also build up their presence on Tencent's digital properties.

"With China's largest microblog platform in terms of registered accounts, we are confident that we can collaborate with TVB to deliver a greater variety of entertainment and information to our hundreds of millions of microblog users," said Norman Tam, general manager of Tencent's Hong Kong office.

Sina Weibo currently retains over 140m registered accounts based on its own figures, and had an active audience of 60m users in Q2 according to Enfodesk.

Charles Chao, CEO of Sina, one of China's premier internet companies, argued conditions appear increasingly favourable for microblogs in the world's most populous nation.

"China has become much more open and much more transparent. People have a lot of freedom to express themselves and Weibo can bring that freedom to a next level," he said.

Enfodesk's study predicted there will be approximately 250m microblog users in China by the end of this year. This represents a market penetration of over 50%.

Data sourced from Enfodesk; additional content by Warc staff