Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Nov 12, 2014

Niche but nice: A guide to China's up-and-coming social sites

CHINA - The two biggest platforms, WeChat and Weibo, get most of the attention in discussions about social media in China, but a growing number of supporting players represents the next wave of social.


Totem Media provided the following list of social-media sites that you might not have heard of unless you follow China's social scene fervently. 

Most of these social sites are built around specific needs of smaller groups, so how marketers might use them is very specific to the type of brand and objective in play.

In general, Chris Baker, managing director of Totem Media, recommends that big brands who want to build a cutting-edge image can explore these sites with content co-ops.

An example of this is Coke using Papa, and at different times taking over the site with embedded features, games and content. Early involvement in sites like this with offerings that add to the user experience is a signal that the brand is "cool", he said.

As for mid-sized brands, they can create content that is "native" to the site for better engagement levels. This means they should format their content assets to fit the site in question (for example, 8- to 10-second videos for Meipai & Weishi, or audio programs on Papa).

Vertical-specific sites will have obvious appeal to the industry players most closely matching them, such as travel companies using Qyer.


Momo (image above)

Momo started as a messaging app, but has evolved into more of a location-based 'friend finding' app (read: dating and even one-night stands).

Launch Date: Aug, 2011

Registered Users: 148 million (Updated June 2014)

Monthly Active Users (MAU): 52 million+ (Updated June 2014)

Groups: 3,560,000 (Updated June 2014)

Audience Profile: 70% are male, 82% are between 19-32 years old

Purpose of Usage:

  • Send image/video/audio to others in your area based on your location in real-time
  • Explore neighbourhoods, join or start community groups and create your own events


Douban is very focused on interest-based communities related to arts, music, books and films.

Launch Date: March, 2005

Registered Users: 75 million (Updated Sept 2013)

Daily PV: 210 million (Updated Sept 2013)

Purpose of Usage:

  • Douban FM for personalised music
  • Douban Reading for digital reading service
  • Douban Music for music sharing and recommendations
  • Douban Location for offline activities
  • Douban Group for gatherings of like-minded people


Vine-like, 8-second short video sharing community owned by Tencent.

Launch Date: Sept., 2013

Registered Users: 24 million (Updated in early 2014)

Monthly Active Users (MAU): 8 million (Updated in early 2014)

Audience Profile: Youths with higher education background, 18-29 years old

Purpose of Usage: Shoot short videos with options to add background music, MV effects and watermarks.


Instagram-like audio and photo sharing app, with audio as focus.

Launch Date: Oct, 2012

Registered Users: 30 million (Updated in early 2014)

Audience Profile: Post-90s in 1st & 2nd tier cities who love vocal expression and voice recordings



Video-making app to create, edit and share short 10-second videos, owned by Meitu.

Launch Date: April, 2014

Registered Users: 740 million (Updated in Aug 2014)

MAU: 174 million (Updated in Aug 2014)




China’s biggest Q&A platform (Quora-like) focused on topics related to advertising, internet, IT and other professional fields of knowledge

Launch Date: January, 2011

Monthly UV: (PC) 50 million, (Mobile) 4 million+ (Updated Feb 2014)

Audience Profile: Students and well-educated adults who are knowledgable and thorough on facts



Baidu Tieba

Online BBS covering a wide variety of topics (entertainment, travel, business, sports, etc)

Launch Date: Dec., 2006

Registered Users: 1 billion (Updated in July 2014)

MAU: 300 million (Updated in July 2014)

Purpose of Usage:

  • Posts organised by various interest categories
  • Create, follow, & contribute to posts you like
  • 'Brand station' for online communication with users



A site for personal goal-setting and achievement (ie. losing weight, doing a trip around the world, etc). Users write a daily diary and share it with supporters and friends to help achieve goals.

Launch Date: Sept., 2013

Registered Users: 109,900 (Updated in Aug 2014)

Purpose of Usage:

  • Update everyday or else account will be disabled
  • Remind people to persist in ideals
  • Post pictures and articles
  • Update status of goal achievement


Female community originally designed based on a Pinterest model. It has grown into a full shopping guide cum social commerce platform to share tips on how to mix-and-match clothing and so on

Launch Date: Nov, 2009

Registered Users: 10 million+ (Updated in June 2014)

Audience Profile: 70% are post-90s, female fashionistas in 1st & 2nd tier cities with good taste for fashion trends




Kickstarter-like online crowd-funding social platform for artistic and creative projects.

Launch Date: July, 2011

Daily PV: 200,000 (Updated Sept 2013)

Audience Profile: Culture and art lovers with appreciation for hand-crafted work

Purpose of Usage:

  • Raise money
  • Sell products
  • Share ideas

Invitation-only social network for affluent young urbanites 

Launch Date: October, 2007

Registered Users: 3 million+ (Updated in Nov 2013)

Audience Profile: Young, urban professionals, party goers and lifestyle gurus

Purpose of Usage:

  • Private networking
  • Share common values and interests
  • Participate in events



Tech-themed social website aiming at youth geeks with content related to IT, science, innovation

Launch Date: Nov., 2003

Monthly UV: (PC) 63 million, (Mobile) 5.5 million+ (Updated in Feb 2014)

Audience Profile: Tech enthusiasts, sci-fi lovers, startup community, digital professionals



An overall practical outbound-tourism social platform for sharing travel itineraries and other travel suggestions

Launch Date: Feb, 2002

Registered Users: 10 million+ (Updated in June 2014)

Purpose of Usage:

- Document sights seen during trips

- Provide travel guidelines to other users

- Booking of tickets & accommodation with discounts



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