Interesting story by Kai Lukoff courtesy of Mashable that breaks down the top four social networking sites in the most populous country in the world. Lukoff gives some great demographic and business plan information on each site, as well as forecasting what he sees on the horizon.
The whole article is worth a read (that is, if you're interested in knowing some of the social interaction trends and market realities among the billion or so people in China) but here are some highlights:
Renren, Qzone, Pengyou and Kaixin001 are the "big four", but according to Lukoff, China also has specialized social networks for children, gamers and lovers
Renren has followed the Facebook model (from universities outward) and is very aggressive about monetization
Anything Facebook does, Renren immediately copies
The "long tail" of small advertisers hasn't yet hit China like it has in the US
Tencent is the AOL of China's net world, with a once-dominant position threatened by complacency with respect to offering social networking services, but is now moving strongly into social
Kaixin001 is experiencing a Myspace-like slide in popularity, while Sina Weibo is experiencing a Twitter-like meteoric path upwards in both user base and valuation
Telling quote: "Social networks often operate on an elite spread basis: You can move down the social ladder but not up."
According to Lukoff, 2011 is going to be the decisive year in this big four showdown. Interesting thought: I wonder what the impact would be if China were the only country in the world whose citizens were not linked up to the rest of the world via Facebook?