Linlin Xie

Linlin Xie

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

China Social Media; Making people slightly less bored.

I’ve covered before in a previous entry:; Spamming to the top; How Kaixin became China’s most popular Facebook-esque Social Media Site. This time around, let’s look a little closer at Kaixin001 in the context of it’s main competition, Xiaonei and Kaixin (Kaixin, and Kaixin001 are competitors; yes its confusing, which was the goal of Kaixin; more on this later).

“Kaixin” means happy in Chinese, or literally “open heart”; why kaixin”001″? I guess it’s the same reason why you’ll find it hard to purchase, but likely easily get

When comparing Xiaonei and Kaixin001, we’re really dealing with 2 versions of Facebook for China. However, looking deeper, we find a good marketing lesson in user interest targeting; ’cause really, there’s only so much utility to be derived from filling out your profile and then looking at pictures of your friend’s cat doing cute tricks. What’s an upstart social media network to do? Well beyond a hardcore spam campaign (covered in the first article), a focus in making people a little less bored with their lives is a genius stratagem.

How bored would you have to be to play a game where you steal your friend’s vegetables? …there’s your silver dollar insight into the mind of the average Chinese white collar worker.

Kicking your competitor’s digital butt won’t go unpunished however. Kaixin001 started in 2007, and in two short years has decidedly trumped Xiaonei, which was started in 2005. Xiaonei, backed by its Japanese parent company Soft Bank, launched a counter attack:

For those of you in the back row: Xiaonei is a direct copy of Facebook. Kaixin001 is a copy of Xiaonei. Kaixin is a copy of Kaixin001. Now in one sentence: Xiaonei, the copier of Facebook, created Kaixin which is a copy of Kaixin001, who had previously copied Xiaonei.


This begs the question, if Kaixin001 was so successful, why didn’t it go ahead and purchase the apparently extremely expensive domain? Kaixin001′s CEO will likely ask himself this question every single morning for the rest of his natural life.

Kainxin001: killing time.
The main interaction on Kaixin001 is similar to Facebook, but with a focus on games; while all the “Facebook-ish” tools are there, they get used very little in comparison to the games section.

This layout is getting pretty familiar.

The vast majority of users on Kaixin001 are white collar workers. Why is this? Well here’s my theory: When playing these games the overwhelming commentary is that the players are bored; the implication is that they were likely more bored before playing the game, and now though they are still bored, they are a little less bored then before. Now imagine Facebook or Xiaonei, which is really a way of staying in touch with others. So lets assume everyone is bored; two options: go to xiaonei, and see your friend’s boring lives, or go to kaixin001 and play a game with your friends to somewhat lift this crushing boredom.

In the end social media really isn’t rocket science; it’s just understanding these finer psychological details; which gets back to the age old concept of “value”. It reminds me of an important business concept: in horseraces, the winning horse many times wins by only a fraction of a second. The winner becomes a stud, the loser becomes glue, all for that fraction of a second. So Kaixin001 doesn’t need to be a lot better than Xiaonei, it only needs to excel in one area to achieve success. This is how Xiaonei beat Facebook China; all design elements the same with interface localization being the primary variable (another “fraction of a second phenomenon).

Advertising on Kaixin001
Product placements seem to be the primary advertising done on Kaixin001, with banner ads coming in at a very distant second. We see the typical FMCG products featured in “gifts” sections.

Send a lollipop, a diamond, an angel, a teddy bear, or Biotherm’s new make-up base product with 50% less oil residue, perfect for maintaining fair skin and that teenage youthful glow (no animals were harmed in the making of this product).

Happy001 vs. Happy.
Xiaonei’s strategy of confusing people into believing was worked well, but not well enough. When you view the graph above, you’ll see that while Kaixin is grabbing a good portion of the SNS market, it certainly doesn’t seem to be slowing Kaixin001 down.

littleredbook_dot_cn_kaixinhome’s homepage: This cute fake dog cannot compare to stealing your friend’s fake vegetables. Sorry doggie.

Personal experience with Kaixinoo1:
From BA360′s intern, Veronica:

Just in yesterday, when my classmates and I were taking photos, they suggested, “Let’s share photos on tonight.” Since I have been working on SNS websites for a couple of days, I asked: “Why are you all using” One of them answered, “For vegetable planting!” (A popular virtual games on The other said, “I don’t know why…” (And this is actually a common phenomenon for many SNS users) Then I added, “, not, right?!” “Ya, of course! “

I was somehow pushed to register and For the former site, I surrendered to friends’ endless invitations; for the latter, pure curiosity. Here’s a few messages I received on Kaixin001:

“Your friend “S” bought you at ¥5000 and made you his slave.”

“Your master “S” took you for a free trip to Singapore, and you are so happy.”

“Your friend “Z” bought you from “S” at ¥ 8102 and made you a nanny working for 3 hours earning money for her.”

“Your master “S” treats you to 30 new courses of Pizza hut, and you are so happy.”

My current “value” is ¥10190, and I am “so happy”, so…What’s the point?! I got nothing from “friends for sale” –a popular application copied from facebook–except an indirect “Pizza hut” ad.

All of my friends have Xiaonei IDs and half of them use kaixin001. But according to my experience in work, I have seen more colleagues with kaixin001 pages open during work. This might explain why kaixin001 can surpass Xiaonei in traffic; its white collar strategy does work. However the games seem too simple to capture my interest for long.

Besides, I don’t think Rand would feel happy seeing me stealing a cabbage from other’s garden during work (another popular “vegetable stealing” application).

[from Rand: I have a strict "no stealing vegetables" policy.]

Some random comments from Tianya:

I just started play games on kaixin001 on last Wednesday, and have forgotten to check in tianya everyday till now. Dangerous.

Yep. Added “Parking War” on Friday, and worked on it during weekend. I have earned 9 cars.

Haha~ my colleagues all play together~ it’s been months~

Many people invited me, but I felt it boring and didn’t register.

Played for a few days and started to feel bored.

Virtual community games, why would it be interesting…

I changed my car to a cheaper one and upgraded a seashore scene. Then everybody told me to sell my cars because they wanted to park there… Actually it’s really boring, or you can play that friend for sale or poking, but in a word: still boring.

Yes, boring but will still be there. It shows there are so many bored people~~

It is boring, but as you play you find that actually moron is also a pretty good living status, wish us all happy. (kaixin means happy in Chinese) I personally think it’s similar to xiaonei, but more fun.

Not at all. I totally lost in the situation and was then bought as a slave, and also kept in a little cold dark room.

kaixin001 is very boring, time wasting, and how can such easy games be called happy?

That shitty kaixin001, very, very boring. Just polling, friends sales, poking, these 3 tricks. So dull and boring. You can fall into it and forget tianya? Why not say you fall into Tetris to forget World Of Warcraft!! You are killing me!!!

I also registered yesterday~~I am logged in right now, but I don’t think it’s very interesting~~I admit I am old-fashioned~~~~~

No matter how you play, it’s just buying people, parking cars and voting…but increase more communication with old friends lost in touch.

Bored during work and started to continuously vote for others…

I play it just because I’m bored, no one that isn’t bored will play it. The site is targeted at this feature of consumers, or how can it gather millions of people in such a short period of time?

I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and parked my car to a different location…faint..

Logged in twice, but really can’t see any fun from it. Why so many people saying it’s fun? It’s not innovative and is boring. And I don’t know why my classmate wanted me to register, and she was so happy making me her slave. Can’t figure out any fun from this. Totally naïve + boring.

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