As an AsiaDigitalMap reader and an Asia’s social media landscape savvy person, you must have heard about these huge Chinese “BBS” where buzz, fame, memes born and die. These forums are powerful way to communicate and a true piece of the Chinese digital culture, hence the tight control by the government.
Taiwan has a mixed usage of Social Network. People can be Facebook (11m users of a 17m netizens, +9000% growths between January 2009 and January 2011) or Youtube heavy users but also be fond of local platform such as Wretch.cc (Yahoo owned, still the 3rd most visited website in Taiwan. Weibo’s Taiwan page is heavily inspired by Wretch’s one), Pixnet or PPT.cc
Taiwan’s BBS (to be differentiated with “Forums”) really are unique as they are Telnet based social network and, as incredible as it sounds like, this largely technology savvy population still use a network protocol that has been developed in 1969, 43 years ago! These BBS are only accessible with special software ( such as PCMan for Windows or Nally for OSX) via a command line style interface:
High School and university students mainly compose BBS population, they spend their time on PPT.cc, the largest BBS of its kind in the world with 1.5m registered users and about 40 000 posts are created everyday listed in different “Boards” encompassing vast ranges of topics that go from gossiping, make-up tips, news, products/brands test advices, romance issues, music or artist discussion…etc.
Here is a short list of the most famous boards on PTT.cc :
- Gossiping (Mainly about politicians, social events, or gossips. It’s the most famous board on PTT.cc, simultaneous board surfer online is at least 12,000.)
- StupidClown (Share stupid things in your life)
- Beauty (Talk about handsome boys and beautiful girls)
- e-shopping (Share e-shopping experiences)
- WOW (Talk about the online game-WOW)
The very interesting thing with Taiwan’s BBS is that despite their prehistoric interface, they’ve included all the modern Social Media ingredients and features, way before the words “Social Media” was even mainstream:
- “Journalists” was and are still crawling BBS for sensational news
- Brands tracked and monitored what is being said about one of a products and sometime don’t hesitate to openly or secretly interact with users.
- People are asking questions and expect crowdsourced answers, in the very same way how Quora is operating now
- People post advices, tips, tests and reviews of products, ideas, places, travels…etc
- Some people are become “experts”, “influencers” and their advices can be followed but hundreds or thousands of people.
BBS is facing a tough competition from “modern” forums such as Mobile01 or Facebook, the traffic is certainly not as strong as it has been in 2007 when only Wretch.cc (which started as a Telnet BBS itself) was the uncontested leader in the Taiwanese market, but a brand must not completely overlook its power and they must be included in most of social media strategy targeting a Taiwanese audience.
The difficulty here is that, due to the archaic nature of the system, it’s very difficult (but not impossible) to use modern listening tools such as Radian6 or K-Matrix, researches on these platforms can be performed but on one board in the same time and with a lots of restrictions.
If you are interested to take a look at this very specific social network, please follow these steps (mind that you cannot use “mouse click” on PTT, keyboard is the only way you interact with this board. You can use ↑↓→←to surf on PTT and all the boards are in Chinese, no English one available on PTT.cc.
- Step1: Download the software (PCMan for Windows, Nally for OSX)
- Step2: Type the URL of the BBS (here is “ptt.cc”)
- Step3: Enter “new” to register a new account
- Step4: Then you can use it