4 Reasons why I give up Renren: Facebook next?

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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?”

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16 thoughts on “4 Reasons why I give up Renren: Facebook next?

  1. This post leads me to think. I started reading with a strong disapproval as I think Renren is more user friendly than Facebook, for example, newly released voice-post, individual response, etc. Yet after reading your post, I am feeling unsure now. You gave convincing facts on the weakness of Renren, such as “premium” and failure in effective networking. I did not think that much before and I had never thought about what kind of destination Renren was heading to. Thank you!

    • Hi Crystal,
      Thanks for your insights. This post is a complaint about Renren. I guess I’m wrong saying that Renren failed to localize. As you informed me, it allows voice-post (which I didn’t know until you mentioned), and individual response. Facebook does not have those features. I think what Renren, or any social networks should do, is not just aiming at making money, but really try to understand the user base well and focus on serving users. The voice-post sounds interesting to me. Do you know is there lots of users using the voice-post?

      • That’s what I want to figure out as well because personally, I feel awkward to upload my voice and let everybody hear my voice… Uhhh… That’s embarrassed.

  2. Actually, I think the reason why RenRen failed is because they let too many young people in. More and more high school even junior high school students are using it. The result is the information on this platform is naive and stupid. And actually we can barely see any people older than 30 is using it, while on Facebook people in different age are using it. And talking about the innovation, it seems this is a common issue of all kinds of Chinese technology. We are good at learning and developing, but we create less than other western countries.

  3. Actually I keep using Renren for a long time. For me, it is a useful online social tool because it is a real name networking platform and it is easy for me to connect with people. But they launched the timeline as same as Facebook does, which makes me feel that they are just tend to copy everything of Facebook and lack of its own innovation. Another problem is that the information spreading on Renren is lack of credibility. Rumors have legs on Renren and everybody believes them. I don’t know how Renren can control this, but it is one reason why many people don’t use Renren anymore.

    • Hey, thanks for replying me. I think the biggest problem Renren has right now is that they get to only keep the University students on the network. However, most people who are going to graduate or already graduated- at least from what I know- abandoned this network and turned into Weibo, because it’s faster, more convenient, and connects more professionally than Renren. Another thing is that Renren is really bad at establishing measurement tools for pages. If Renren want to continue growing, they must figure those two questions out.

      • Yeah I agree with you. I can tell their intention to expand their target audience from the action that they change their name from Xiaonei.com to Renren.com. But still, they need to do something more than copying Facebook.

  4. I enjoyed reading this post and can see immediately how Renren is not even close to the Facebook-esc website that it claims to be. Facebook is something global and strives to be all encompassing. Renren has become basically exclusive to China. Simply marketing to other parts of Asia would definitely help raise that $3.00 stock. Not saying it would completely bring them back to where it once was, but it will help. It appears that the biggest issue is that it promises (with its design) to be another Facebook, so it’s got a nice sleek look, but unzip and the insides are rotten.

    • Hi, Thanks for your comment. Actually the biggest flaw in Renren is that it is only limited within the student group. Another thing annoys me is the spamming ads, which is not necessarily from Renren itself…

    • Hi XiXi,

      It’s just my personal opinion on Renren…

      I will soon be graduating from grad-school and Renren seems disconnected with my life long time ago. The content simply does not seem appealing enough; lots of Taobao ads. Besides, lots of my friends are actually on Weibo or Wechat now… That’s why I gave up this social platform.
      However, if you are a professional social media strategist, and your audience is college students, I think Renren is still you No. 1 choice. Think if Renren has a handy measurement tool for public page like weibo does, I probably will turn back to it again 🙂

      • Hi Sijieliu,

        i understand your personal opinion, however, i know too much people using Renren. Also I do not understand, that you titel your blog… “Why i give up on renren”, when you just write you did a long time ago. Sorry, that you will loose your real name friends…
        The numbers which are public are quite different… In december 2012 there have been using 56 mio people renren, which it seems is more than weibo, and for sure not all college students…
        I would not give this public measurement tool…so much emphasis, since i am not sure what the weibo numbers are worth.
        I do not believe so much in this numbers from weibo and there are several indications you find… – When you search for weibo & zombie…onto google, that something is wrong with those weibo numbers.
        http://www.skyechina.com/2013/04/digging-for-zombies-on-sina-weibo/
        Thus, as said, I still believe in real name SNS for long friend connections…which is Renren.
        Regards
        Xixi

    • Thanks for your comment. I don’t wanna say which social platform is superior than the others. I’ve been on Renren since 2007. Back then, its name was still Xiaonei. I found lots of elementary school friends on it, and I thought it was fun. I also had a public page as well.

      However the more I’m using it, the more flaws I found on this platform. From what I expect as a public page manager, I WANT the measurement tool because I want to know who is following me, and how many conversations did I create in the past 2 weeks so that I get to know if my strategy and tactic is correct. However, simple thing as it is, I still have to count it by myself. This is when I start to dislike it…

      As time goes, I found out most of my real-world friends are also on Weibo, and I can also follow PR professionals on Weibo too, but seldom did they appear on Renren. That’s why I don’t like to use it anymore.

      Like I said, as a personal communication tool, Renren is good, because it helps you to find your old friends. However, as a social network, it has some flaws…

  5. really interesting read and comments. for 中文的社交网 i’m just on weibo and wechat..that’s already a lot to manage on top of English-language social media. if i jumped on anything else at this point it’d be Douban for sure.

  6. 100
    podejmował, że ogół, co tyczyło się łowów Lilliana na smoki było znają tajemną.

    W pojedynkę bardzo chciał jej raz przystąpić,

    tedy nagle śledził wszystkie starania. Zaczerwienił się.

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