China: Social Media and Sourcing

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May 24, 2011

Arguably the three most influential players in the online social media space, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, are not available in China due to strict government censorship laws. According to various stats from Randstad and Wikipedia, the Internet penetration rate in the Middle Kingdom is about 33%. It is increasing ever so rapidly with 83% of the Chinese workforce believing that social media is the way to go towards finding a new job. As a result, there has been a mushrooming of local social media sites that are compliant with Chinese media regulation. 

The ones that have the most Internet traffic include:

Sina Weibo — This is a Twitter-like micro blogging site with more than 140 million users. It is adding 20 million new users per month. According to iResearch, Weibo has 56.5% of the micro blogging market based on active users and 86.6% based on browsing time over competitors such as Tencent and Baidu. Sina claims that over 5,000 companies and 2,700 media organizations in China are currently using Weibo.

Ushi — This is a LinkedIn look-alike. Ushi claims to have about 140,000 users. It pales in comparison with the 100 million LinkedIn users. But bear in mind that earlier in 2011, LinkedIn had its access shut down in China for several days. The business networking space is nascent in China and competitors like JingWei are competing head-on with Ushi and LinkedIn for the Chinese pie. It is unclear if this market will take off in a big way as many mid to senior-level Chinese executives are more wary in sharing their network of contacts and their own professional profile compared with folks from the rest of the world.

RenRen — This is a Facebook wannabe. It has about 31 million monthly users as of April 2011. Its target market is the teenage and university crowd. A similar site is Kaixin001 whose focus is towards the white-collar executives residing in the major Chinese cities.

It goes without saying that using Mandarin on these social media sites is THE way to reach potential candidates. Also, in-house corporate sourcers and recruitment agencies operating in China need to tailor their messages accordingly for the local market.

The important considerations for any global organization operating in China is to implement local candidate sourcing solutions and not implement a one-size fits all solution that is rolled out globally. Starting with these and other similar sites is a great place to begin.

image source: Fast Company

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