Social media describes a group of internet apps and packages that work on the foundations of web design. It allows for the creation of user content and its transfer to other users. Social media can be classified into groups such as virtual communities and blogs among others. Social networking has been on the rise in many countries among them the US and China. Reports indicate that China and the US are among the top three countries with the highest internet usage and hence likely to be the top markets in the world.
Social media has recently become an essential way for business marketing and also for communication purposes. The use of Internet and technology such as smartphones has risen, and hence social media has developed into important avenues through which people get information and communicate with others. Due to this rapid increase in popularity, social media has diverse its role to the fields of marketing, advertising and also government communication. The Chinese social media is a unique and the most influential in the world. It also notable that the Chinese government has censored western social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube (Subramaniam, Kumarashvari and Gopalakrishnan Nair 6).
Over 300 million internet users in China use social media such as blogs and other internet based social community platforms. This figure is almost the same as a few eastern European countries combined with a larger percentage spending their time on social media leading to its rapid increase.
This desire for an array of social media content has led to an increase in numerous companies, whose tools are more advanced than those found in the West countries. A case example is where Chinese media users were able to integrate multimedia in their social networking sites way early even before the US twitter users were able to do so. User review sites emerged in 2003 such as Dianping and later followed by blogging sites in 2004. Years later chatting capacities in social networking sites was introducing with applications such as Renren and later on Sina Weibo that offered blogging and embedded multimedia content. 2010 saw the introduction of Jiepang that offered location services just like Foursquare. (Subramaniam, Kumarashvari and Gopalakrishnan Nair 8).
This rise in a way wasn't affected by government regulations. This makes the Chinese market unique as the government finds it hard to regulate social media as it would any other channel of information it could censor. Social media users in China are more pro-active than any other internet users in the world. Most of these users have numerous media accounts in the social networking sites, largely with the popular local content like Renren and Sina Weibo. Internet penetration and use of smart mobile devices are also increasing in China with about half of the Internet users visiting social sites (deLisle, Jacques et al. 24).
This technological advancement has seen the integration of payment solutions and other services through social media sites like Alibabas Alipay as well as mutual funds investments. The use of mobile devices has led to mobility and portability leads to stronger call for social media usage, decreasing the digital gap between urban and rural China. It is this that makes social media in China powerful today. Some of Chinas most popular networking sites include Renren and Sina Weibo (deLisle, Jacques et al. 26).
Renren, which means Everyone's Network was introduced in 2005 by four college students. It targeted college students with an interface that resembled Facebook's own interface. In 2009, the first Chinese social networking site was officially launched with an advertising purpose to urge users to communicate with friends and family. It has been the most popular social networking site in China ever since. It has a pretty simple user interface and easy to use. Activities can be held online by calling on friends to participate. There is the existence of virtual currency, which can be used to purchase gifts and usage for non-free activities (deLisle, Jacques et al. 24).
On the other hand, the US is the second largest market per number of internet users. Access to social networking sites is mostly through personal computers. Smartphone usage to access social media has increased over the years. Social networking is primarily used by young adults with a rise by the adults in internet usage. Uploading photos, managing a social network profile and uploading videos are the three most important social media activities among US internet users. This explains why Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are the most commonly used social sites. Over the past few years, Instagram usage has only seen an upward trend with most young adults embracing it.
Some sites saw a decline in usage. Myspace is one such networking site. This is due to poor design and lack of innovation as well as advertising too strongly which irritated users. Those that have seen an increase in usage include Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Facebook was founded in 2006 with its primary focus being high school and college students. It has since spread to other parts of the world. Its layout is simple and easy to use even for older people who may be less tech-savvy. Facebook has expanded its capabilities to internet marketing and not just a social platform for meeting new people and friends.
Twitter was also founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey. It offers free social networking and micro-blogs. Users are only allowed 140 characters in their messages, commonly known as tweets. Due to the limited nature of the tweets, twitter hence offers quick responses and feedback. This is the reason why business prefers to use Twitter for customer support.it is even easier to understand compared to Facebook.
LinkedIn is a social networking site with a business purpose. It was established in 2003 with its sole purpose being professional networking. LinkedIn users create profiles to sum up their career achievements. This enhances visibility to friends, individuals who schooled together, work colleagues, business partners and employers. People can invite trusted contacts to connect each other. Companies, in turn, are increasingly turning to LinkedIn as a way to find potential management candidates rather than utilizing headhunters. Premium membership allows acquired through payment of a fee allows employers to look for information regarding selection and hiring of employees based on recommendations and qualifications. The users also can join groups where people have same interests to communicate with other team members. Recently, LinkedIn increased cooperation with Twitter. When a user posts a message on Twitter, it can be showed on LinkedIn at the same time (Subramaniam, Kumarashvari and Gopalakrishnan Nair 12).
LinkedIn is a free social networking site for professional and business. Since the focus is purely on professional boundaries, it has more male users than female users. It also attracts older users than Facebook and Twitter.
Economic Impact of Social Networking
Many businesses use social networking sites as relevant marketing channels. This is because it is cheaper than the general advertising. It is also more efficient for nurturing direct relationships with consumers and is also very influential when undertaking purchasing decisions. However, implementing social media marketing in China marketing is challenging due to the censoring by the government (deLisle, Jacques et al. 25). In this case, local social networking sites are preferred by global marketers. This is worthwhile because there is less brand competition as compared to the social market in the US. Henceforth, brands take advantage of opportunities and gain experience and information for future use (Wang 20).
Social networking is also desirable to brands that target the young population, educated individuals and those with purchasing power. However, for this to be achieved it should promote conversation with targeted users as well as meet their needs. Chinese users love to read blogs. It is advisable for marketers to publish blogs to keep their followers informed. Chinese users also like to share product usage experience and give ratings (deLisle, Jacques et al. 23). This can be very helpful to marketers in the US. The marketers can then respond to their comments and modify their products where possible and improve their services in the process.
Social sites can also sell advertisement space as a way of making profits. Nevertheless, there is need to assess users attitudes towards featured ads. Most Chinese users are not interested in banner advertisements and prefer these sites to communicate with friends. American users, on the other hand, are neutral towards ads and are likely to read them for more information.
In conclusion, global social media marketing strategies are important for marketers to understand and use. There is a need for assessing the different countries cultural and technological variations. User behavior should also be studied before implementation of social networking sites activities. The Chinese market has more potential in social media marketing, but marketers should not be too pushy with their SNS advertising strategies because SNS for Chinese users provides trusted methods of communicating and sharing with friends (Wang 22).
These studies show that social media is taking over the world by storm. Care should be taken to assess individual markets characteristics and variations. SNS users and user patterns are very similar in the U.S. and China. When global marketers consider global marketing or other social media marketing strategy, in addition to taking into account the overall global perspective, they have to leave enough authorities and space for local marketers and allow diversity of plan execution based on their regional submarkets.
deLisle, Jacques et al. The Internet, Social Media, And A Changing China. 1st ed., Philadelphia, University Of Pennsylvania Press, 2016,.pg
Subramaniam, Kumarashvari and Gopalakrishnan Nair. "Social Media NetworkA Seminal Paradigm For Interactive Marketing". China-USA Business Review, vol 12, no. 2, 2013, pp. 1-16. David Publishing Company, doi:10.17265/1537-1514/2013.02.010.
Wang, Bin. "Survival And Competition Among Social Networking Websites". Electronic Commerce Research And Applications, vol 9, no. 1, 2010, pp. 20-22. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.elerap.2009.08.002.
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