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

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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.

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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.

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