“WeChat is Facebook, WhatsApp and LinkedIn rolled into one”: How China uses social media differently

Many UK companies want to get established on WeChat and other Chinese social media – but find it’s not only the language barrier that makes it hard to get their message across. Cultural differences can play a part – and so can Chinese online users’ less compartmentalised approach to social media.

ting zhang founder crayfish chinese translation business support social media wechat
Ting Zhang’s company Crayfish.io aims to help British SMEs get started in China by providing translation, social media and business support through an online network of native Chinese speakers. (Photo credit: Crayfish.io)

“Here in the UK, people might use Facebook for personal contacts, WhatsApp for messaging and LinkedIn for professional networking. In China, most people use WeChat, which is a bit of all these platforms rolled into one,” says Ting Zhang, founder of Chinese translation and business support company Crayfish.io.

Although China had 772 million online users by the end of 2017, its Internet landscape is dominated by different social media platforms to the big names we see here in the UK. WeChat recently celebrated reaching one billion monthly active users and the Twitter-like service Weibo is widely used within the country. Meanwhile, some foreign platforms such as Facebook are blocked by a ‘Great Firewall’ which censors some content from abroad.

All these factors make learning about Chinese social media more of a learning curve for companies outside China. Ting Zhang, whose company offers freelance translation, business and social media help to UK businesses aiming to expand into China, talked to Catherine from East Meets West about her experiences. Listen again here:

      CLICK HERE TO LISTEN - Ting Zhang, founder of Crayfish, talks to Catherine from East Meets West

Catherine Jessup

A languages nerd with a food obsession and lifelong music bug, Catherine can be found sifting through the archives for Chinese indie tunes and toting around culinary experiments in a fancy lunchbox. Presenter and Reporter for Panda Radio and gbtimes.com. Find Catherine on Twitter @cjessup_gbtimes