China Insights

Kantar China Social Media Impact Report 2017

Martin Guo

Editor-in-Chief, Kantar China Insights

Social 06.06.2017 / 18:50

Hot Air Balloon full

Younger Chinese more aware of negative impact of social media. WeChat remains the most popular social app, while Weibo makes a come-back with younger users.

• WeChat remains the most popular social media app in China, while Weibo makes a come-back with younger users.

• Papi Jiang is the No.1 social media key opinion leader according to Kantar Media CIC’s Enfluencer Radar™ 

• Dating social network sites are the least used and least satisfactory

• Data privacy emerges as a concern

Kantar’s fourth annual social media report has found that Chinese respondents are generally happy with changes brought by social media. Through an upgraded satisfactory survey, the aggregate score people gave on social media’s impact on their lives is 79.8. But compared with other age groups, people born in 1990s (90s generation) showed more caution against negative impacts of social media. In the fourth Kantar China Social Media Impact Report, people were asked to rate their feeling towards the impact brought by nine social media sub-categories*.

As social media keeps evolving in China, the landscape has become more complex. WeChat continues its dominance, however, its growth has largely slowed down. Weibo is making a comeback, many new and old social media platforms are managing to find value developing niche user groups. Big Internet companies are investing in social functions within their apps/sites to enhance user engagement. 

“Social media in China used to mean WeChat, Weibo and QQ. But as China has become a highly mobile society, people are now ‘socializing’ on all types of apps. Social media has evolved into a very large category,” said Ryan Li, General Manager of Media & Consumption Behaviour Research, CTR, which lead the satisfactory survey.

WeChat, the most widely used social media platform, received the highest rating of 83.5. Satisfaction with the platform was high across all ages, locations and both genders. Life service reviewing apps/sites, such as Dianping and Ctrip, ranked second at 81.7, followed by social functions on e-commerce platforms (81.2).

Social media satisfactory rating


Weibo, the dominant social media platform before WeChat, recently made come-backs in both user base and stock price. Kantar’s survey showed that it received particularly positive scores by younger generations: the younger the users are, the higher score they’d give Weibo. Those born in 1990s gave it 79.3 score.

Weibo ratings


The behaviour monitoring data from the report also showed that Weibo’s monthly penetration rate grew by 3.7 percentage points in April from a year ago to 35.7%. While the penetration rate among the 18-25 age group jumped 13.7 percentage points to 45.9%.

The report also measured the performances of online key opinion leaders (KOLs) on multiple platforms to find out who are the Top 50 influencers. Papi Jiang (Papi酱) was rated the number one KOL in China, followed by Tongdao Dashu (同道大叔) in number 2 position and Wu Yan (吴雁), whose WeChat and Weibo account name is Focus of Thoughts (思想聚焦), in number three spot.

Enfluencer Top 50 2017 Q1 

"With relatively low barrier in investment and technology, KOL demonstrated strong capabilities in digital media and social marketing. Standing out by their unique personality and creative contents, successful KOL can build a large fan base rather quickly, guide targeted audience to e-commerce channel and push for final conversion,” said Linda Xu, Chief Client Officer, Head of Research and Consulting, Kantar Media CIC. “KOL has now become a very common business strategy for many brands. Partnering with the right KOL may have strong influence on the final success of campaigns. Brands need measurable results to identify and evaluate the effectiveness and relevance of active KOLs.”

With the diversification of social media platforms, brands need to utilize different types of platforms to target different generation targets. “In the virtual social world that is filled with impetuousness and vanity, brands should publish contents emphasizing on substance and quality which would create higher brand connection,” said Ye Han, Director of Kantar Vermeer. “Use the right platform to push the right content at the right moment to the right consumer targets – it is the fundamental strategy for brands when more consumers are inclined to turn off push notifications.” 

Kantar, the data, insight and consultancy division of WPP, carried out this year’s report through online polling, data mining, mobile behaviour data analysis, and cross-analysis of purchasing data with social behaviour data. This year’s research analyses behavioural data and answers from more than 100,000 real-ID registered users, as well as purchasing data from 12,000 households. Kantar Media CIC Enfluencer Radar research data-mined more than 1 million Weibo posts, 50 million viewing behaviours on WeChat subscription accounts and 10 billion watching behaviours on five livestreaming platforms.

Other insights included in the report include:

 • The most mentioned positive impacts from social media are for socializing with close acquaintances and knowing more things: such as “know what’s going on with my friends” (70%), “easily communicate with friends and family members” (70%), and “get to know new hot topics” (69%) and “broaden my scope of knowledge” (61%).

Positive impacts of social media 

 • On the dark side, “less book reading” (48%) was the most mentioned negative impact for the fourth year, and health concerns, such as “eye-sights getting worse” (48%) and “lack of sleep” (42%) are very close. Privacy was also mentioned by 43% respondents. 

social media negative impacts 

• In general, younger users are more aware of negative impact brought by social media. For example, compared with other age groups, 90s generation are more cautious against impulsiveness (31%), loss of concentration (34%) and negative values online (29%). They are also more willing to take actions to control “damage”, such as 39% of them said they’d turn off social media apps’ notifications. 

Negative impacts by age 

• The national survey data in the report showed that new social media users in the past year come from mostly people older than 40 years old.

Social Media User Age

* The nine sub-categories are: WeChat, life service apps/sites, social functions within e-commerce platforms, social functions within news apps and sites, instant messenger apps/software, Weibo, BBS, social function within video/livestreaming platforms and dating social networks. Users will be able to rate only the sub-categories that they said they’ve used. 

** The scores from the previous three years were: 67.0 in 2016, 68.0 in 2015 and 73.4 in 2014. But as methodology was different, they cannot be compared with this year’s result.

Source: Kantar Media CIC, CTR, Kantar, Kantar Worldpanel, Lightspeed, Kantar Millward Brown

Editor's notes

* Click here to download the full report in English;

* To reach the author, or to know more information, data and analysis of social media marketing, please contact us.

* Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive news alerts.

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