In bustling Chinese cities, urbanites use social media for chat and work; in the vast grasslands of north China's Inner Mongolia, nomads depend on it to sell cows and search for lost horses.
It is badly needed, as spreading information is very difficult in loosely populated areas where herdsmen would live dozens of kilometers apart.
Na Sutu, a Mongolian herder of Ujimqin Grassland in Xilin Gol League, regularly posts cattle information on Moments, an information-sharing function embedded in the popular instant messaging service WeChat, which he says brings much better businesses.
"In the past, I had to contact retailers to sell cows, but now business comes to me," the 32-year-old man said.
With the permeation of social media tools like microblog Weibo and WeChat, the lives in Mongolian yurts spread across the grassland have been revolutionized.
Gone are the days when Alamusi Qiqige used to spend days riding motorcycles or horses to find missing cows and horses on the extensive Abaga Banner grassland.
Now he can simply use his phone to contact fellow nomads, who are more than willing to offer a helping hand and forward messages on lost cattle.
"These mobile applications have become so useful for us," said Qiqige, who recently used WeChat to recover lost livestock.
The use of the technology even goes to rent houses, recruit workers and invite people for weekend parties.
Unlike regular phones with Chinese and English keyboards, Mongolian input functions are not yet popularized. Instead, local herdsmen take pictures of a piece of paper with the information written in Mongolian and upload the photos to instant messaging services.
Eyeing the emerging market, some companies have offered to publish messages for local people free of charge in public platforms on WeChat.
Local governments in Mongolian-concentrated areas have also jumped on the bandwagon by establishing platforms on the mobile service, as they publicize consultation services and government moves in dialect to keep the ethnic minorities in touch with policies.
"I am just glad to get connected in the mobile era, because it makes our lives easier and closer," said Siqin Bater, resident of Zhabilahu Village, Xianghuang Banner