Qzone: China’s ‘Most Valuable’ Social Media Brand and Why We Seldom Use It
The Swiss brand valuation agency BV4 recently released the report “The Most Valuable Social Media Brands 2012” (pdf). Facebook topped the list with a valuation of 29 billion USD. Of the other 29 brands, 8 were Chinese. They are:
- 4th QQ空间 (Qzone) - 11.2 billion USD
- 5th 新浪微博 (Sina Weibo) - 3.9 billion
- 8th 腾讯微博 (Tencent Weibo) - 3.5 billion
- 12th 人人网 (Renren) - 2.6 billion
- 14th 腾讯朋友 (Tencent Pengyou) - 2.2 billion
- 18th 开心网 (Kaixin) - 1.9 billion
- 21st 土豆网 (Tudou) - 1.5 billion
- 24th 优酷 (Youku) - 1.4 billion
Of the brands above, Qzone is a Myspace-like blogging platform; Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo are microblogging platforms similar to Twitter; Renren, Kaixin and Tencent Pengyou are real-name networks like Facebook; and Youku and Tudou, are video-sharing platforms like YouTube and have recently merged.
Perhaps this is the first time you’ve heard of Qzone. I’ll explain Qzone, its value and why we don’t often use it for marketing purposes.
The Value of Qzone
Qzone belongs to the company Tencent, owner of China’s most used instant messaging service, QQ. Stated simply, Qzone is a blogging platform. Its users are QQ users. I think there are three main reasons as to why Qzone is considered so valuable:
- QQ’s User Base: Qzone is the blogging platform for QQ users. It seems like almost everybody that uses the Internet in China has a QQ account - they have over a billion registered users. Qzone has been a sub-brand of QQ since 2005. Similar to MSN and MySpace, everybody that has a QQ account can also log in to Qzone automatically. Qzone currently has 537 million users.
- Tencent-wide Integration: Besides the same basic features as other blogging platforms, Qzone is also compatible with other QQ features such as QQ games. It’s also recently been integrated with Tencent Pengyou and Tencent Weibo. With one QQ account, users can access their instant messenger account as well as their Qzone, Pengyou and Weibo account.
- Paid Services: On MySpace, users can customize their own space however they want, and it’s for free. Qzone provides some customization for free, but if users want greater flexibility in how they configure their space they need to buy a membership. The more common memberships are Green Diamond and Yellow Diamond, which allow for background music and theme customizations. Yellow Diamond membership costs 10 Yuan per month, and the longer you have been a member the higher your level becomes, which allows you access to even more features. If your membership expires, you lose all the features you’ve gained so far. This helps keep users in the system and keep them paying.
Why Don’t We Use Qzone for Marketing Purposes?
If Qzone is one of the most valuable social media brands in the world, and has over half a billion users, why don’t we run marketing campaigns on it? Why do we focus efforts on Sina Weibo, a platform with fewer users?
In social media marketing, the key is to find where your target market is and then use the most appropriate communication methods to interact with them. Qzone lacks in both regards.
With regards to the target market, most of the active users on Qzone are quite young and with lower spending power. Other users have been pulled away to other social networks and communication tools. For example, although QQ messenger has a very broad range of users, many businesses have chosen to use other messengers such as MSN or Skype as their main messengers. As Qzone users are QQ users, this has reduced the number of Qzone users that work in a professional setting. For real-name social networks, Renren has attracted the university crowd, while professionals have gone to Kaixin. This still leaves Qzone with a massive user base, but a user base that is less varied.
With regards to the communication method, Qzone’s blog format simply can’t compare to the microblog format of Sina Weibo. Like Twitter, Sina Weibo allows content to spread rapidly and virally.
Sina Weibo is surely the most popular microblogging platform in China. I trust the benefits of microblogging don’t need to be explained in detail here, but Sina Weibo also provides other features useful for marketing, including the easy use of videos, links, images, employee-company connections, events and groups. Along with a vibrant, broad-ranging and rapidly-growing user base, this is what makes Sina Weibo the platform that we most often recommend for marketing purposes.