A new report by eMarketer looks at China’s online audience – the largest in the world, with 513 million people in 2011 – and its continued growth, as well as the expansion of social networking and microblogging (weibo).
Since 2011, the majority of China’s internet population has engaged with social networks. By 2014, eMarketer predicts that 63% (nearly two-thirds) of China’s internet audience will be using social networks, or 30% of the general population. Social networking use will grow 20% in 2012, 19% in 2013, and then drop to 13% growth in 2014. Clearly the lack of Facebook (which is officially banned in China) hasn’t impeded growth, with 257 million social network users in 2011.
The social network leaders in China are: Tencent QZone with 536 million users, Tencent Weibo with 310 million, Sina Weibo with 250 million, Renren with 137 million and Kaixin001 with 116 million (We Are Social).
While the internet won’t reach a majority of China’s population until 2015, eMarketer predicts that the growing online population – combined with recent government restrictions on broadcast advertising – will have a significant impact on online advertising. And as users continue “flocking to microblogs” – microblog use increased 296% in China in 2011 – some advertising will be pulled away from more traditional social networking sites (Renren) and focused on Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo.