Weibo Marketing

Sina Weibo, China’s largest SNS so far, has got a nearly 88% penetration rate among the nation’s excess 358 million users. It has also attracted over 130,000 companies including one-third top 500 enterprises in the world.
They don’t just join Weibo on impulse, but for the benefit Weibo can bring them. Some come to Weibo for brand awareness, some for brand image and others for closer relationship with customers.
However, many of them are still at lost on Weibo. They cannot build a community of fans around their brands via Weibo. That’s because they don’t run the Weibo marketing in a right way.

study weibo

Eight steps for Weibo marketing:

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1. Preparation

Before start Weibo marketing, you will need to confirm that your customers are on Weibo at first. It sounds easy, but many companies simply forget that. Secondly, short term strategy is not good for Weibo marketing. Companies need to get ready for a long term Weibo marketing strategy. The last point to remember is that company Weibo marketing is not something everybody could do; you will need professional people or at least advice. See more about difference between professional Weibo and common Weibo accounts

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2. Account setup

There are two most important factors to consider: design of the company Weibo page and the basic setting.
Positioning of the company Weibo page
After identifying your targets on Weibo, you can make a positioning of your account such as an account for luxury, or for humorous, or for fashion information. You will also need to decide to take a strategy of personal account, company account, single-account, or multi accounts strategy. Then you can create your page according to this positioning. When creating your Weibo page, don’t forget to get a verification insignia, tags of the company, link to company website, company introduction, bulletin, associated accounts, banner of the account, impressive company icon, and a catchy nick name if you can.
Basic setting
To get more attention from your targets, you could put the QR code of or the link to Weibo account on name cards, email signature and on company website.

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Ayana weibo account illustration

Professional company weibo account, click to see bigger image

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3. Content planning

The content or tweet published on Weibo should be carefully planned because it will be your headache not benefit if they are carelessly made.

When plan the content, remember these two rules:

  • create the content your targets like not what you like;
  • don’t put content maybe harmful to the brand.

Sounds easy? I’m afraid not. In fact, it’s difficult to keep creating interesting and original content all the time. To reach this target, to pay close attention to the popular topic every day, share professional information with your fans time to time, mini-game or app, eye-catching pictures and videos are very helpful.
Use # to tag topics of your company to make it easier for visitors to find what they want to see from massive information.
When planning the content, also keep the idea of brand reputation in mind. Some topics can destroy the image of a company such as the content about politics and rumors. Those buzzes have spread very fast while Weibo now is becoming more and more strict to those rumor spreaders. see stricter control on rumors

It’s also better to keep a regular publishing because Weibo users are like farmers, they like to harvest interesting information regularly every day.

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4. Community management

The essence of Weibo marketing is the community management. The community doesn’t need to be big, but they are quite influential and loyal to the brand. For this kind of fans, Weibo marketers need to pay 80% attention on them because they will spread the information of your company in a very positive way.
The first question comes is where are they? Here are some ways to help expand your community: people you already know; go search on certain keywords related to your products; special forums or groups; put your Weibo account in your advertisings.
What’s more important is to keep them, here are some keys: @ them everytime you have really interesting things for them, quick response to their comment, share their Weibo sometimes and communicate with them like friends.

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roles of weibo

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5. Reputation Crisis

Reputation crisis on Weibo is something many companies can meet up with. It can be just one complaint; it can also be an extensive campaign from competitors.
No matter what’s the scale or topics the crisis is, the principles of solving the crisis are always right: to gain the sympathy from Weibo users and take the use of the influence of the crisis.
Winner in a reputation crisis are not always the winner of a dispute, or lawsuit, but those gain people’s favor because customers would like to buy products from a brand they like and they don’t care so much about who win the dispute.
Most Weibo users are young and caring people, or at least pretend to be. Maybe they are timid and silent in reality, but when they play Weibo, they become heroes. What’s more, they like to judge according to emotion rather than law.
That’s why companies who in a weak position are always more favored on Weibo in reputation crisis. Besides, humorous, friendly and clever way of communication also helps a lot in winning sympathy from Weibo users. And remember, you can defend yourself, don’t attack your competitors actively.
See the case of a recent dispute
The second rule may look crazy, but it has been proven strategy to improve the brand awareness based on the following facts:

  1. Controversy is always eye-catching topic, that’s why controversy is the cornerstone for drama.
  2. Chinese Weibo users are critical enough and not easy to cheat any more, especially for business competition.

When bad news about your company appears on Weibo, it can a good opportunity to spread your brand everywhere and what you need to do is to release the fact when the popularity goes to the top.
It’s always not bad to mention that the careful preparation is the best solution for reputation crisis no matter how advanced your solution could be.

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6. Event

Even organization is an inseparable part of Weibo management. It can help a company Weibo account increase the popularity of the account, information of new products in a very short time. The majority of the events on Weibo are sweepstakes.
However, as I have seen that the popularity of event, especial sweepstakes on Weibo has decreased greatly. People have got bored with the simple events fixed in form and even monotonous in reward. On the other hand, creative and interesting events are still popular because different from twitter users, prize has an irresistible charm to Weibo users.
The event will not go viral by itself even it’s interesting and creative. When executing the event, Weibo marketers need to do the following things to maximize the influence of the event:

  • Interact with fans and participants after the event launched;
  • Integrate other SNS in the event: spread it everywhere
  • Don’t let fans wait for too long for the next event

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7. Result analysis and report

A big problem for all the Weibo marketers is what KPI can reflect the result of Weibo marketing: number of fans? Sales?
In fact, the result may not reflect on the number of fans in several days, on sales in several months. Like TV advertising, the result of Weibo is difficult to measure.
What I suggest is make a special KPI only for your Weibo marketing. Different companies create different accounts for different reasons. In other word, 100 companies have 100 different targets.
What you need to remember is the core value of Weibo marketing is direct communication with your customers and influence on them. So the KPI should be made based on this idea.

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8. Account safety

The last important step for Weibo marketing is the safety of the account.
Last year, many people have witnessed their accounts hacked by somebody they don’t know who tweet other people’s Weibo. Sometimes, hackers will even use those hacked accounts to comment or bad news.
So far, there’s no software or plug-in effective to that, but the following tips can minimize the possibility to get those problems:

  • Don’t click links from somebody don’t know
  • Don’t use applications from unknown source
  • Filter spam
  • Never use hacker software

The last but also important thing to point out is that the trend, way of marketing, and people’s focus on Weibo are different from time to time, the only way to keep the advantage in Weibo marketing it planning, practicing, analysis.

Source: Sina Weibo, DCCI, Weibopower

If you have any questions in Weibo marketing or plan for business, don’t hesitate to contact me for more information or advice: agency @ marketingtochina.com

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