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China’s internet users spent 19m years on social media in 2012

If you’re not careful, Chinese internet stats can leave you feeling a little dizzy. The latest social media numbers to come out of the country are no exception.

According to a new report from multi-national “conversation agency” We Are Social, internet users in the Asian superpower spent 19-million years online in 2012. That’s not necessarily because they’re completely addicted to social, (although engagement on micro-blogging service Sina Weibo did completely trounce that of Twitter during the Olympic opening ceremony) either. The numbers are based on an estimated average of 46 minutes a day spent on social media. It’s more down to the sheer force of numbers.

China now has 564-million internet users, 420-million of whom access the web via their mobile phones. There are also nearly 598-million social media accounts. If you’re paying careful attention, you’ll notice that’s more than the total number on internet users. Given that Sina Weibo has around 400-million users though, it’s not all that surprising especially when you consider the fact that a large number of those will be active on other social networks.

It should be noted however that the proportion of Chinese internet users who use social media is a lot bigger than in some other countries. We Are Social estimates that 91% of China’s online population visit social media sites. Of those, 88% are active on social media. By way of comparison, only 67% of the US’s online population visit social networking sites.

We Are Social’s research also reconfirms a long-established fact of the Chinese social media space: Tencent rules the roost. The internet giant’s various properties, including QZone, Tencent Weibo, and Pengyou, account for 56% of all activity on Chinese social media. Sina Weibo and Facebook clone Renren are the most dominant chasers, each holding around 19% of the market.

Speaking to The Next Web however We Are Social managing director Simon Kemp did note that mobile was having a profound effect on the space. He used the example of another Tencent property WeChat (or Weixin) to illustrate this point. The instant messaging service recently passed the 300-million user mark, announcing that it had added 100-million users in the last four months alone:

“25 million new users every month at the moment is massive growth, and brands are starting to get in on the action too. It’ll be tricky for [the brands] though, as they’ll need to have an even better think about how they can add value to the more intimate ‘instant messaging + microblog post’ environment,” he said.

Author | Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter

Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself to be thrown in the deep and did his best stay afloat. When not fused with his keyboard, you can find him... More