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 recognized. Nonetheless, the points that will be mentioned below are reasons why Renren might be more appealing than Facebook, especially if Renren were to launch an International version.
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 posts. However, these features are only meant for short messages, as posts are limited to a fixed amount of characters. Thus it is impossible for users to give a very detailed account of what they have to say and share. In addition, Facebook posts are very disorganized, with friends leaving their comments anywhere in a conversation and distorting the flow of the conversation. 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, where users are entitled to an almost infinite word limit in a single post. It has a very organized 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.
Social networking sites have taken the extra effort to help aid groups with emergency needs. In Facebook, many people have created groups or fan pages to help campaign in important activities. However, these pages are inactive most of the time, as people who do not understand the importance of the page would not visit them. Renren saw the reasons why people could not be bothered and thus took several actions to improve on this matter. Whenever a person takes an extra effort to do their part for those in need (the victims of the recent tsunami, earthquakes or floods) by visiting the campaigning page and donating in the form of monetary donations, or by buying digitized “gifts”, or by leaving 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. 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.
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.
However, here is a reason why people might not want to use Renren.
Renren is a social networking site which is made in China. Thus, there is a lot of control by the Government of China. Everyone knows that the Great Firewall of China has been extremely effective in filtering out content which is not supposed to be accessed in China, and Renren is also susceptible to this problem. Renren would filter out posts which are deemed to be derogatory to the Government of China, thus limiting the amount of free speech a person would enjoy. This kind of control is not present in Facebook. This is a major selling point of social networks outside China, and this is also why China blocks so many social networks. Thus, the target audience of Renren is only limited to citizens of China.
In conclusion, both of these social networking sites have different target audience. Therefore, if they learn from one another, the world of social networking would be a much better one for everybody.