Is it time for the Western art world to join Chinese social media? That depends on your goals. “I don’t see any reason for anyone not directly involved in the Beijing/Shanghai art world to be on Weibo,” argued Robin Peckham. “It’s more about back-and-forth in-scene and doesn’t have much application in terms of PR and such, at least on the small scale of galleries and organizations.” Indeed, Chinese sites like Weibo and Douban, even as they gain more attention from the West, remain predominantly Chinese in both language and user base.
A few months ago, Tom Cruise made waves in both Chinese and Western media by announcing that he had joined Sina Weibo, the popular Chinese microblogging tool used by Chinese and, now, Western celebrities. “We’re having fun talking to you and our new friend at http://t.sina.com.cn/” his Chief Information Officer announced. Cruise is a special case, of course. But his popularity reflects something of an “Ashton moment” in terms of the attention Chinese social media have been received lately from the West. Sina’s strategy, which was to bring prominent public figures in both entertainment and politics to the service, has paid off.