In May2011, Renren, labeled as “China’s Facebook,” raised $743 million in IPO on New York Stock Exchange with an opening price of $14 each, according to vator news. The function of this social network is just like Facebook, where people can share their status, upload photos, and get news feed from friends; even the UI is almost identical. Right now, Renren’s stock price closed at $3. The problem of “Chinese version Facebook” is not only about money. As an early user and a manager of a Renren public page. I feel sorry but have to say I’m going to give up on this platform. Here are the reasons why:
First things first, it is NOT Chinese version Facebook
In 2005, Several students from Tsinghua University started Renren’s predecessor, which name was “Xiaonei” (means on campus in Chinese) back then. At first, it only accepts registration from a handful of specific universities. In 2006 Oak Pacific bought Xiaonei. In 2009, Xiaonei was renamed as Renren. At this time, the platform was no longer limited to users on campus.
This process is exactly like Facebook’s developing path. Renren labeles itself as “China’s Facebook.” However, the two social network’s core value is totally different. Therefore, Renren is NOT a Chinese version Facebook.
Right now, Facebook has already become an open and international social network. Under the spirit of being open and genuine, Facebook still has its “cool;” and the number of users grows increasingly. On the contrary, Renren’s user group is becoming narrower: The main market locates only in China; lots of my friends spent less time on Renren after graduation, yet they fail to attract the younger generation. Comparing with Facebook, Renren’s main goal is to generate profit. It is a soulless social network website. There are more and more accounts only for e-commerce marketing and advertising on Renren, which makes it less cool. The advertisements in games are so obvious that the website loses its attraction to me. You have to pay real money to buy “Renren currency” if you want to achieve some
distinctive features such as changing background or exchange gifts with friends.
Poor user experience
Besides I have to pay if I want some “premium features,” as a public page owner I have to say, Renren confuses me from time to time. Renren announces itself an open platform, which has tons of third-party plug-ins, does not have a traffic-monitoring tool for public page owners. Most of Renren apps are games with implanted advertising.
Renren has its own paid marketing program for businesses. I don’t know whether Renren will provide me a media monitoring tool if I bought Renren’s marketing program. At least for free users like me, I have no such benefits.
Lack of innovation
During these years, I didn’t see any significant innovation from Renren. It follows Facebook step by step but neglect the traits of the local market. When Facebook added third-party apps, Renren followed; when Facebook introduced timeline, Renren followed. Where is its own idea except for all those dazzling advertising?
I tried to search for a successful public relations case study on Renren, but the result astonished me. After the year of 2011, there are no commendable best studies, or substantial campaigns anymore.
Anyway, this is just based on my individual study and observation. If you have different opinions, you’re perfectly welcome to leave me a note.
Losing young generations while failing to keep old ones
Lots of my friends stop using Renren, or become less active on Renren after graduation. I asked them why. One of the main reasons is that they have already moved to Weibo and Wechat. From my understanding, the younger generation is more active on Qzone because they are already on QQ. It’s just one click on the button to log in Qzone from QQ panel.
In the end, Renren has always flaunted itself as the “Chinese version Facebook.” It became successful because of mimicking Facebook’s UI design and following Facebook’s footprint. Even though, I believe those two companies are remarkably different in corporate culture and core value, their appearances are extremely similar. Critics said that Facebook has already started to lose teenager users. As a follower of Facebook, will Renren’s weakening trend become the prediction of Facebook’s fate? Will Facebook lose its “cool” with the flourishing of new social networks such as Pinterest, Fourtsquare, and Instagram?
Going back to 2009, Renren had its glorious time. In a rapid changing time like right now, for all the popular social media outlets, is it true “good times never last long?”