Social Media Trends: China's Silicon Valley is a Dog's Life

In China’s there’s social media trend that makes China sound like the whacky west; it is called goumin.com (roughly translate as ‘dogpeople.com’) and is a kind a Chinese Facebook for dog lovers that was set up by Mr Tang Yang. His venture is one of thousands of Chinese internet start-ups ready to benefits from China's e-commerce explosion, as the value of transactions on the Chinese internet has more than doubled since 2010 from £25bn to £50bn, with more than 161m users now buying online. Today Mr Tang's is a success story as investors want to take his business to the next level and he says, "The pace and magnitude of what is happening with the Chinese internet is breathtaking and only just being felt."

Chris Evdemon, an IT angel investor and general manager of the Innovation Works says, "The take-off has been made possible by the coming together of three factors: logistics to get items delivered, multiple trusted online pay platforms and much improved customer service levels. As consumer spending grows, advertising revenues will surely follow." Analysts are predicting another social media trend; the surge of Chinese tech IPOs. Recently investors were buzzing with reports that Renren.com, China's Facebook twin, will seek a $500m listing this year.

All this activity has led to talk of a ‘Chinese Silicon Valley’ in Beijing, as there’s a wealth of engineering talent, no shortage of capital and an environment infused with social media trend optimism. Mr Tang’s success was that he grew the dog community in size and loyalty. This encouraged people to spend money on everything from doggy mineral water, gourmet organic pet food to toys, clothes and shampoo.

Tang Yang says, "The idea came to me after my girlfriend bought a 10 yuan (£1) rabbit and then started feeding it on grasses imported from New Zealand. I realised she was spending 450 yuan a month feeding a 10-yuan rabbit. Then I knew this idea would work." Today, his site employs 49 people and publishes a pet magazine. It is an example of the social media trend, ‘social commerce’, where groups of like-minded people, in this scenario dog-lovers collect together to talk about their passion...the faithful canines. There are 530,000 pet-owners registered on his site, and 600 joining every day.

So at the moment there is a great social media trend buzz in China and with that comes some very inflated valuations for companies that have no proven business model. This optimism and opportunity in the Beijing air means China’s ‘Valley’ has something else in common with the San Franciscan version, the predisposition to form bubbles as the rush to buy, splits valuations from a reality check.

Photo Credit: Beverly and Pack