Anti-Social Media

I feel like I should have more to say about the social media tools in China. Truth is, I find them kind of boring. I don’t know how much that reflects my lack of friends and contacts on these things. I haven’t really found anything terribly exciting on my feeds — most of the stuff I’m interested also appears on my Facebook feed, so I see it there first.

I don’t feel terribly motivated to post things to these sites either, but that is probably because of the lack of feedback. No one responds. No one comments. Or a bazillion people repost, but it’s all spammy.

Tweeting on Weibo

Sina Weibo was down briefly today. I didn’t notice because I was on Weibo, but rather saw a tweet about it from @OffbeatChina.

I use HootSuite to keep tabs on the Twittersphere. It’s web-based, so I don’t have to have software installed to access it from a laptop. You create streams based on tweets from certain accounts or searches. The streams are organized onto tabs. I have a tab for “China” and keep four main streams going here: people tweeting from personal twitter accounts, tweets from certain English-language blogs on China, tweets from blogs on China labor issues, and a China list saved by a typesetter at Random House Canada in Toronto, @SeanTai.

Here’s what those four streams look like just now:

Sample of Hootsuite (click for larger version)

Sample of Hootsuite (click for larger version)

I keep several other tabs for different topic areas that I think are interesting, as well as a “ME” tab with my home feed (everyone I follow), all my outgoing tweets, and interactions with people.

Last week, I just added a new tab for my Sina Weibo stream. Unfortunately, this tab just has one stream. It’s an app created by the developer @minli. And it basically just shows my home feed for Weibo — just those people I follow — and doesn’t give me the flexibility to have streams with certain key words or even to segment my home feed by topic.

Not a huge deal for me personally, since I have really only dipped my toe in Weibo and don’t rely on it for China news or anything. But I am a little disappointed that this interface isn’t more flexible. I don’t think I should fault the developer. I understand that only certain developers are granted access to the Weibo API and I’m not clear on what further restrictions developers might face even after getting over this initial hurdle of access.

Within Weibo, I can create lists of the people/organizations that I follow, which is lovely and good, but I cannot save searches. And I really can’t find another tool that lets me search Weibo at all. I can only search Weibo by going to and logging in.

In my search for a good Weibo search tool, I found a couple of other cool tools:

Have any advice? Please post in comments!

Am I Weibo-ing?

Microblogging is such an ugly word. So is facebooking I suppose. Maybe there’s a cuter way to say it (like tweeting is to twitter), but I’m not sure.

In China, everyone has microblogs, aka 微博 (wēibó), so even before I left the U.S. I tried to create accounts across the important channels. Of course, social media isn’t very fun without knowing people that are on the same tools.

Not long ago, Mashable published 5 Chinese Social Networks You Need to Watch by Yin Mei. It’s a good place to start.

1. Sina Weibo – This is usually what people mean when they just say “weibo.” Everyone equates it to twitter (with a few added bells and whistles), but I am still finding it incredibly hard to use as a listening tool. I never use twitter by going to — instead I use hootsuite to set up streams and organize different types of voices that I like to follow. I haven’t found a Chinese hootsuite yet. There seem to be ways to make lists, but that’s really not enough for me. Will report back later. You can find me at

2. Renren – I don’t have this one yet, but it’s supposed to be the Chinese facebook. Hm.

3. Tencent – This is the company that made QQ. QQ is an incredible chat system that everyone uses — personal and business too of course. Most people list their QQ number on their business cards along with their phone and email. It’s that essential. I have a QQ, but I’m not posting it here.

I have a Tencent Weibo account at, which works a lot like Sina Weibo.

4. Douban – I’ve heard discussion that Douban is dead, like the myspace of American social media, but I went ahead and created an account at Seems friendly enough. Also very similar to Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo.

5. Wechat – This is an app by Tencent. I installed it on my phone from the iTunes store. Allows free texting and chatting. Also has this goofy thing where you shake your phone and can find people physically nearby to you. You can share a limited profile and chat without officially “friending”/”following”/”connecting.” I guess it’s kind of like the Grindr app!

You can link your Wechat to your QQ account. And you can link it to your Tencent Weibo account. All this linking confuses me. I have at least 3 different Tencent accounts (QQ, Weibo, and Wechat). I’m not sure if having these separate accounts is a feature or just a byproduct of their development process.