Want success in China? Copy Facebook

Want success in China? Copy Facebook

I’m touring around China with bloggers. I hope to give you as many updates as possible about this land of endless opportunities. Thanks to Spil Games for sponsoring me.

The China 2.0 train stopped at the HQ of 51.com this morning, one of China’s largest social networks. Last month, they counted 130 million users of whom 38 million paid the site a visit. The average users logs in eleven times a month and then surfs around for 41 minutes. On a daily basis, the 51.com adorers upload eleven million pictures, write three million blog posts, and watch 35 million music clips. These last numbers prove that entertainment is rather important at 51.com, hence the company launched an open applications platform.

Monetizing applications

VP Andy Yao told us that 51.com launched the platform last August. Since then, 149 applications have been developed. Third party developers are responsible for 130 of these nifty little apps. Every app gets used around 2 million times a day. So how do these third party developers profit from providing 51.com with their creations?

  • Google Adsense – developers can place Google Adsense blocks on their pages. They can keep the revenue, as 51.com gets an introduction fee from Google for every developer that signs up.
  • Via SMS premium payments, 51.com users can buy 51.com coins. These coins can also be spend on applications – revenue will be split.

Human trafficking

Beyond photoblogs and other native apps, most popular 51.com apps are entertainment-oriented. When Yao gave “Sell your friends” as an example – which obviously is a Facebook rip-off – some funny remarks about human trafficking were made. This example perfectly shows that copying Facebook really pays off in China.

Facebook-copying skills

51.com isn’t the only company who masters the Facebook-copying skills. Earlier this week, we met the founders of social network Kaixin001 – China’s hottest start-up. Their grow curve looks like a hockey stick. They went from 5 to 2000 servers in less than six months. Kaixin001 owes its success to smart copying. The founders noticed Facebook’s most popular element is the entertainment apps category. Thus they improved the top entertainment apps and launched a social network focused on white collar workers. Yao: “These visitors were shocked by all the funny little things they saw. Thanks to a smart emailing system (read: SPAM, EJP), their product spread rapidly.”

So yes folks, the copy-cat approach always pays off. Even in the rough Chinese market.

Read next: Fake New York Times: biggest hoax ever?

Shh. Here's some distraction

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