Just a few days after I wrote posts on the state of cosplay in China and the street art-like responses to the Wenzhou train collision on Sina Weibo, I found this image circulating around Weibo. What’s striking about it is how quickly it leapt from the online world into the offline world. I’m used to to thinking of Internet memes, political or not, as restricted to online space.
Just how do you tap into the interface of Weibo? Like Twitter, the Chinese social media hub takes a little while to get used to, regardless of what language you’re speaking. But once you get the hang of it, the service soars.
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.