Facebook may be the world's most popular social network. But in the world's most populous country, Facebook is a virtual unknown, due to government filtering through the so-called Great Firewall of China. In spite of the fact that Facebook has long been banned in the country, social media has taken over the Chinese way of life, where 95 percent of Internet users from major cities are regular users of social media.

China has the world's biggest online population, with about 550 million users. The country's mobile base is an even greater figure, at 1 billion as of earlier this year. With these figures, this market is seen as having a big potential for shaping what the Internet and mobile landscape could look like in the future.

And for a population that has very minimal access to popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, it's not surprising that local alternatives would thrive.

China Social Media on the Rise
China is the world's biggest internet population, and will be the biggest e-commerce market by 2015. Social media plays a big part in how users interact and decide on online purchases.

Copycat Services are Bigger Here

These include Qzone, with 560 million users, and the two big "Weibo" services -- Tencent Weibo and Sina Weibo -- having about 330 million each. This is not surprising, given that even search giant Google is a distant second to Baidu in its core search business. Baidu has about 80 percent of the market, with Google only getting an 18 percent share.

China is likewise among the most active social media users, with 91 percent of survey respondents saying they have visited a social media site in the past six months. In comparison, 70 percent of South Koreans have accessed social media in the previous six months, Americans at 67 percent and Japanese at 30 percent.

Converting Social Connections to Commerce

For businesses, it's not just social media access that's important, but conversions. For online retailers and brands, China is the place to be. China will be the world's biggest e-commerce market by 2015, with a projected RMB 18 trillion (US$ 2.83 trillion) spent in online purchases annually by 300 million online buyers.

Social media will play an important factor in purchase decisions, as 61 percent of survey respondents say they make a decision based on social media campaigns.

Bestfreeonline has come up with an infographic that illustrates the growth of social media in China. Whether you're in the Asia Pacific region or simply an observer of social media trends, China is arguably one of the more significant regions one should be watching.