Terrific advice, Angela.
I’m curious, any sense of the number of folks using Pinterest (or sites similar to it) in China? Is the idea of visually curating content taking root like it is in the US?
Keep up the great work. We’re really enjoying your posts,
Hi Peter, thanks for your comments. I have quite a long-winded response to your questions, so bear with me!
There’s actually a Pinterest copycat in China called Kaixin Jipin (开心集品), which looks very similar to the Pinterest layout, but with little of the same functionality. Instead of pinning or re-pinning an image, users can ‘share’ each image on a multitude of Chinese social media sites (you’ll see that when you click on an image, it opens in a new page, and there are about 5-6 social media icons at the bottom). Chinese Internet users who are saavy with foreign websites will have a sense of how huge and popular Pinterest is becoming, but Internet users who don’t look to foreign media, social or otherwise, will tend to prefer homegrown websites (no matter what their design is like in terms of functionality), for the most part due to the language barrier. Of course, in the schools’ case, their Chinese applicants will ideally know of the Internet beyond what is accessible within the firewall.
Thought I don’t have hard figures, I think the visual curating of content must be very popular in China, perhaps gaining more momentum than it is in the US due to sheer number of Internet users. Photography apps are numerous, and many Chinese have smartphones. There are at LEAST 10 copycats of Instagram, at last count (I myself have an account with a copycat app called Tuding (“ding，钉” is the word for ‘pin’）, with a completely Chinese user base who comment and follow each other much as you would do on Pinterest). Even simple text-messaging applications come with visual components (such as the messaging app Weixin, or WeChat, which makes text-messaging very visually appealing as you can set background photos to your texts, share social updates in the form of ‘Moments’ – photos captured with your smartphone’s camera). In some ways the visual consumption of data is already much more sophisticated here than in the US – most Chinese internet users would probably find a majority of photo-hosting websites in the US to be quite ugly from a visual aesthetic perspective.
Whew, I could go on and on about the myriad ways Chinese people are active users of social media, especially when it comes to taking pictures and sharing them, but you get the idea. It’s HUGE here. This is why schools that capitalize on the availability of visual platforms can help build recognition for themselves without the need for Chinese-language messages – nothing draws a young Internet user’s attention quite like pictures, but it’s important to note that how the pictures themselves are curated will leave an impression. To users, Pinterest is much more aesthetically pleasing than many other photo-hosting options currently out there, and that definitely counts for something.
Thanks for the wonderful information.
I live in Australia and am wondering if a non Chinese resident is able to have a presence on any of these Chinese versions of Pinterest. Do you know?
Thanks so much.
Yes, non-Chinese residents can definitely register for an account on these websites. You’d need to be able to navigate the sites in Chinese, of course, but registering a username should be a simple and familiar process. Kaixin Jipin, at least, does not require real-name registration (a policy applied to the Chinese version of Twitter whereby accounts must be linked to a person’s state ID number).
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