HONG KONG: Despite being banned from mainland China since 2009, US social network Twitter has appointed a new managing director for greater China as it seeks to increase its investment in the country.

Twitter has been operating from Hong Kong since March last year and its base there has enabled it to attract advertising revenue from Chinese companies even if mainland Chinese consumers are not meant to access the platform.

However, after seeing 340% growth in the number of Chinese advertisers using Twitter over the past year, the company has appointed Kathy Chen, a former executive at Microsoft and Cisco Systems, to develop strategy for the region.

Shailesh Rao, Twitter's vice-president for Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Emerging Markets, told South China Morning Post that because of its success attracting advertisers, such as technology groups Lenovo and Huawei, the company wants to expand its investment.

"Asia-Pacific is the largest region in the world for us in terms of total number of active users, and it is also the fastest-growing region in terms of active user growth. We view greater China as a critical component [of the region]," he said.

"With our data analytics, we can give Chinese companies insight into how their customers are thinking about their products and services, and use that insight to help them deliver tailored and more effective communication to reach their audiences," Rao added.

Twitter, which gets around one-third of its $2.2bn revenues from outside the US, is keen to build up its global user base from its current level of about 320m active users.

However, Rao said that restrictions on its consumer service in mainland China meant it would concentrate on growing its advertising business in the country rather than seeking to acquire new users.

"We would love to offer our Twitter consumer service to Chinese users, but that's not an option right now," he said. "Instead we will focus on leveraging some of our capabilities to create value for Chinese businesses and state-owned enterprises."

Data sourced from South China Morning Post; additional content by Warc staff