Mop.com is a combination of an informative web portal, a China “Myspace” (hi.mop.com), along with a powerful forum (dzh.mop.com). Originally founded way back in 1997, Mop has evolved into a rich interactive entertainment platform with a specific focus on keeping crazy Chinese people entertained.
Mop.com: A typical Chinese web portal… with a focus on crazy.
Now when I say crazy, I don’t mean clinically mentally disturbed, I mean people with interests and opinions that border on the fringe of Chinese society; in Chinese: Bian4 Tai4. Compared to Western society? I think these people would be considered on the “inside” fringe; they have yet to surpass their Western counterparts (one trip to certain sections of Craig’s List will convince you of this point).
Mop’s average visits are about 150 million/month, with 22 million registered users. The active group is aged 18-32; these members are passionate with strong personalities and opinions. The key benefit to visitors then is in part the entertaining content, but mostly the crazy commentary. For the Chinese, Mop is where you go to have a few laughs and read some shocking content.
It’s interesting to note that while technology is important, content is king. Mop’s USP over major competitor Tianya (covered in this article) is the distinct content focus of entertainment first, culture and social matters second; while for Tianya, the reverse is true. Between these two powerful sites they command over 1/2 their total target traffic in China (50/89 million/month). Since both are simply huge user generated forums, this gives a bit more credence to the “content beats technology” theory, a point China’s social marketers should keep in mind.
A sample of what you’ll see on Mop.com.
Now while you will see interesting cultural issues on Tianya covering marriage problems, government scandals, and the pulse of China’s masses, what you’ll find on mop.com generally light and cheerful, with an emphasis on entertainment and visuals. Take for example this recent post, where users take turns photoshopping a man jumping on the beach.
It now becomes clear why Mop has a reputation for craziness; but hey, it’s a hard soul that wouldn’t find at least one of the pics above funny.
User Forum; The Heart of a great China SNS.
The heartof Mop.com isn’t it’s “Myspace” clone; the forum is the main draw. This was at first a bit confusing as you’d think it would be the SNS aspects, rather than a decidedly web1.0 forum (all you other technology snobs will agree). However, upon contemplation, it seems that the additional level of social interaction from forums is a huge requirement to a successful SNS in China; this is in part proven by Kaixin001.com – a SNS to be sure, but one that rocketed in popularity due to its online games which encourage involved “right now” social interaction, rather then periodic updates which are a main feature of Western SNS.
The theory? Chinese don’t really want to talk about each other, more they seem interested in getting away from the daily grind. Crazy stories and online games help to achieve this goal; evidenced by their hosting sites massive popularity.
Myspace Clone; keeping everything connected.
Mop’s Myspace clone is a functional SNS; including a personal Space, community pages, blogs, BBS, chatting, etc. While offering the same suite of web 2.0 services, Mop’s offering ranks as the top product in China.
Who advertises on Mop.com?
As a mid-sized China portal, Mop doesn’t have a lot of traditional banner ads interspersed in its content. Rather, Brands have taken advantage of Mop’s social communities to launch viral campaigns.
For example, McDonald’s launched a campaign, with the slogan: “Are you niu (means both ‘ox’ and ‘cool’ in Chinese ) enough?” To complement the campaign, McDonalds sponsored a video competition held on Mop. Consumers uploaded their original videos showcasing their definition of “niu”. This helped brand McDonalds through intensely involved consumer participation.
Another example; during Chinese New Year, Pepsi cooperated with Mop to develop a “Pepsi New Year Greeting Card” online promotion. By getting users to email their Mop “Friends circle”, Pepsi virally spread its message via an interactive “Pepsi Card” accompanied by their “Joy of Sharing” branding. The campaign was successful in spreading the word, and getting communities to participate in Pepsi’s promotion.
Mop’s got some serious competition in China, but has managed to avoid direct confrontation by focusing on light and funny topics. It’s major competitor is Tianya; but these two forums seem to complement each other, rather then directly compete.
According to information gathered by iUserTracker, in April 2007, Mop and Tianya cover half of China’s online forum users. Online forum traffic totaled 87,539,000 Chinese netizens, and among them, Mop, with 28,685,000 netizens, ranked 2nd while Tianya, with 24,021,000 netizens, ranked 3rd. Both the two forums were built in the early days of China’s internet, and have held strong positions for years.
Personal Experience with Mop.com
From BA360′s intern, Veronica:
Mop has a great niche: It’s classified as a portal site, but is mostly famous for its forum and Space. All services stick to having fun. So among competitive portal sites in China, such as, sina.com, sohu.com etc, Mop has more to offer—forum and SNS service; you can’t simply compare it with other forums, because Mop also has “space” and official organized information; neither can we compare it with SNS sites for the same reason. Mop succeeds in finding a right position for itself so as to avoid face-to-face confrontation with its competitors. It is very “functional” both because one can use it for 3 different online usages, and it labels itself as a fun providing site.
I have seen quite a few netizens saying they skip from Mop to Tianya.cn. The two work similarly with a slight opposite content weight order. As we can see from their forum layouts, Mop is more random and Tianya is more plain and serious. Mop forum is too confusingly organized but it suits its entertainment spirit. Under a serious interface like Tianya’s, users wouldn’t be easily inspired by funny and crazy thoughts.
I don’t see any friends around using Mop, I believe its feature is not mostly favored by tier1 college students and white collars. Relatively, Tianya’s clean look and cultural-social focus will serve better among these people. Although many Tianya users say they come to Tianya for fun, I don’t doubt Moppers go to Mop for more complete and simple Fun—almost a stream of consciousness, with no mind to filter their thoughts.
Random comments from Chinese users.
A discussion from tianya.com: What do you think is the difference between tianya and mop? Do you like Mop?
I don’t feel like it. The first time I went there saw a post about Premier Jiabao Wen. I was shocked by so many intense speeches; I think Tianya has a better atmosphere.
I first knew Mop then Tianya, but I didn’t go to Mop after. Mop makes me feel sick, Tianya is of richer content.
One word: Mop is like a woman, Tianya is like a man, although Tianya is more and more like a eunuch now.
I liked Mop a lot when I was studying in college. Those superb replies could always make me laugh… After, I started to feel it was full of morons. Then when I came to Tianya, I first thought the information it provided was too overwhelming. Now I haven’t used Mop for at least two years.
Mop was very good in its early days, no worse than Tianya. Now…because of people, there is too much trash, but the same trend is also happening in tianya.
Before 6, 7 years ago, Mop was quite cool. Now ~~~My ID hasn’t been used for years.
There are too many low-lifes in Mop, you can’t reason with them.
Mop is too colorful and random with very small texts, feels stuffy.
I was about 18, 19. I was wandering and reading posts in Mop, then shocked by a sexual intercourse of a female and a male sex organs picture. OMG, it was the first time I saw such a clear “inserted” picture. I feel it’s too obscene there; even their thoughts and words have no logic, but sex implications…
Strong in entertaining.
Older people like tianya, younger ones like Mop.
Mop is still a kid!
Mop is more entertaining; tianya is higher end, just like QQ and MSN.
Mop is somewhere you can disobey rules and relax. But a relaxing place is gradually polluted by some people’s politic speeches. Tianya is where you will lose your confidence to your country, I’d rather not go.