Chinese social media users are increasingly concerned with the
impact social media is having on their lives as the number of
people who feel positively about social media has dropped by 12.1
percentage points from last year to 64.7%.
The second annual Kantar China Social Media Impact Report also
found that social media is now used by more age groups, by less
educated people and by people in smaller cities, while Tencent
WeChat has become the dominant social media platform of an
increasingly mobile-connected country.
Kantar, the data investment management division of WPP, carried
out this year's report through data-mining, Weibo text-mining,
WeChat article text-mining and online polling. The research covers
60 Chinese cities, 66,000 respondents, 2 million Sina Weibo posts
and 711 million WeChat article reads.
For the online polling part of the research, 64.7% of 13,341
participants said social media's impact is positive, 12.1
percentage points lower than a year ago, while 12.2% of respondents
said social media made their lives worse, nearly doubling last
year's 6.7%. The rest, 23.2%, felt social media had a neutral
impact, higher than 16.5% a year ago. This gives us an overall
average satisfaction score of 68.0, compared to last year's
- 64.7% say social media's impact is positive
- 23.2% say social media's impact is neutral
- 12.2% say social media's impact is negative
The continuous survey part of the research captured the shifting
profile of Chinese social media users from face-to-face interviews
with 53,112 urban residents. Social media's reach among urban
residents has increased to 34% from last year's 28.6%. People born
in the 1990s usurped the 1980s generation to become the largest age
group (37.7%) and the proportion of older generations also
increased at the expense of the 1980s, whose share dropped from
44.8% to 30.8%.
"As social media becomes less new, it is no longer the cool
thing to do and loses part of its charm in certain groups", says
Sophie Shen, General Manager of CTR Media & Consumption
Behaviour, who led the online polling survey. "More profoundly,
social media has penetrated into the lives of Chinese people and
they now realize they are spending too much time on it. At the same
time, they are receiving more low-quality and duplicate content,
this is why the proportion of `zero interaction' social users
increased by 7 percentage points to 46%."
"The higher penetration of social media has also increased
people's concerns about their privacy. Many people have been
disturbed by their `virtual friends', which would not have happened
without social media," Shen added.
To better understand the sentiment and behavior of social media
users, this study also includes two text-mining projects on WeChat
and Weibo. CIC, Kantar's specialist social media research agency in
China, followed 711.3 million WeChat users' clicks on 50
influential subscription accounts to understand what topics are
most widely read and what makes a popular subscription account. The
monitoring period stretched from August 1, 2014 to November 15,
This survey found that 15 entertainment accounts made the Top 50
and attracted 49% of total clicks followed. Although the Top 50
list includes 10 news and information accounts, they garnered only
5% of all reads.
The average number of reads per post for the Top 50 was 39,531,
while the average number of likes was 154. Surprisingly, these
influential accounts don't need a large volume of posts to be
successful; on average, an account published just 21 posts each
week. For the top three, the average was even lower at 16
CIC's Weibo monitoring project pulled 2.1 million posts filed by
10,000 Weibo users over a full year (November 16, 2013 to November
15, 2014) to analyze what people were talking about.
Entertainment is still the largest category (25.4%), followed by
news events 19.6%, health and beauty (15.7%), work and study
(14.3%), travel (12%) and others (13%). Though some suspect that
social media users tend to appear negative, CIC's analysis of
emoticons found the opposite: 67% emoticons are positive, 33% are
"China's social media landscape continues to develop at a rapid
pace and it is critical that marketers utilize systematic research
to better understand how consumers ultimately use different
platforms like Weibo and WeChat to create, receive and share
information," said Sam Flemming, CEO and founder of CIC. "We
believe that while WeChat is clearly a dominant platform, China is
not a 'winner takes all' environment. Weibo serves as the 'pulse'
of China and WeChat subscription accounts serving as a new form of
a modern, more shareable magazine. This research illustrates how
they can be best used to reach consumers in meaningful, compelling
and effective ways."