Renren is a very popular social networking site in China, and it is very similar to Facebook in almost all aspects. However, there are certain unique features only unique to Renren, which makes it stands out as compared to Facebook. The only downside of Renren is the fact that it’s only in mandarin, whereas Facebook is in English and hence more internationally recognised. Nonetheless, the points that will be mentioned below are reasons why Renren might be more appealing than Facebook.
1) Encourage users to write more
Facebook has a feature that allows users to share their thoughts with friends, as well as a feature to comment on their friend’s wall (post). However, these features are only meant for short messages, as posts are limited to a fixed amount of words. Thus it is impossible for users to give a very detailed account of what they have to say and share . In addition, it is also highly unlikely that it will be organised, with the possibility of friends leaving their comments, distorting the flow of the structure. Renren on the other hand, offers a platform for their users to post longer and more structured journals. It is a feature very similar to livejournal, whereby users are entitled to an almost infinite word limit in a single post. It has a very organise structure and is easy to use. Having this feature also encourages users to write more. In a virtual world of friends, users’ confidence in writing will only improve with their help and encouragement. No doubt, it encouraged people to write more.
2) Efforts to aid victims/communities in need
Social networking sites have taken the extra effort to help aid groups with emergency needs. In Facebook, people have created group or fan page to help campaign in any important activities. However, these pages are most of the time inactive, and people who don’t understand the importance just don’t have the time to visit such pages. Renren saw the reasons why people could not be bothered and thus took several actions to improve on this matter. Whoever takes an extra effort to do their part for those in need (Tsunami, earthquake or flood victims), like visiting the campaigning page and donate (in the form of just purely leaving donations or buying digitize “gifts”) or leave a post to show their support and sympathy, will be rewarded with an icon beside their name. This icon will arouse others curiosity and thus indirectly spread the campaigning effort. Peer pressure might also be a possibility. Also, for every visit a campaigning site has, Renren will donate a cent to the various organisation. There are many other ideas that Renren has and it has been proven very effective in handling such efforts.
3) Ability to see who visits you
Just like Friendster, Renren allows users to see who had visited them. The reason why Facebook might not have this feature is probably because of the fact that others feel they do not have the privacy of viewing their friend’s profile privately. However, this feature is effective in eliminating “stalkers” and makes the whole site more sociable and cohesive.
These are just a few reasons why Renren might be more appealing than Facebook. Of course, there are a lot of similar debates out there that’s ongoing now. But given the fact that both these social networking sites have different target audience, if they learn from one another, the world of social networking would be a much better one for everybody.