Many of you are accustomed to social media like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. But in China, everything is different, and you will have to master the most popular Chinese social media if you want to develop your brand in China. Even though WeChat is the most popular one, there’s also another app that is especially popular in China: Weibo. Considered as the Twitter of China, we will describe in this article some of its key features, and we will give you some tips and advice to use it for your business.
What is Weibo?
Launched in 2009 by the Chinese technology company Sina Corporation (新浪), Weibo (微博) is one of the biggest social media platforms in China. As its name indicates (“micro-blog”), Weibo provides micro-blogging services and is often compared to Twitter. However, it has evolved into a microblogging hybrid with Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, and YouTube over the years.
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How does Weibo work?
Weibo is really similar to Twitter and other social media in terms of functionalities.
These are Weibo’s main features, which are really similar to Twitter, or Facebook. However, there’s one thing that is not available on Twitter: Weibo’s Hongbao (kind of like a digital wallet).
- Weibo Wallet
Thanks to this wallet, you can make payments within Weibo for any product someone shares or links within the app. You can also pay loans, insurance, buy movie tickets or even book an online appointment with a doctor. All you will have to do is link your credit card or Alipay account to your Weibo account.
Weibo: A Resounding Success
As of 2021, Weibo has 56.8% of the Chinese microblogging market in terms of active users, and 86.6% in terms of browsing time over Chinese competitors such as Tencent and Baidu. It has more than 511 monthly active users and millions of posts per day, making it the largest Chinese-language mobile portal.
Weibo allows users to upload videos, audio, music, photos, Gifs, and attached URLs (Uniform Resource Locator). Users can also follow other people and celebrities, send and receive messages, and use keywords to do research.
- Weibo’s Game Center
Following its success, Weibo has diversified its services over the year, notably with the creation of its Game Center.
Weibo: One of the most popular apps in China
Good commercial content on Weibo can be a lot more impactful than on Wechat. With Weibo, it is easy to share and get viral. It is an open social media, everyone can see other users’ posts and comments, which encourages people to comments and share their experiences about the products they had tried and the brand. It is a must be for many industries because people still refer to Weibo to evaluate the credibility of a brand. So, if you are in B2C especially, Weibo is a must-have.
With 511 million monthly active users as of 2021, Weibo is projected to increase to 613.7 million monthly active users by 2025. Weibo has approximately a 2.8% increase each year.
This is an important factor to bear in mind for your brand and product placement. Indeed, Weibo is also a highly active and animated platform and users expect a high level of engagement/quicker response time, from brands and KOLs.
Chinese internet users, especially Generation Z, often use Weibo to discover the trendy brands and the latest promotions from key opinion leaders. Each day, there are around 130 million words and 1.5 million videos and live streaming published on the platform.
If we look at the distribution of online celebrities on Weibo, we can see that the most popular categories are humor, fashion, and beauty.
Why does Weibo matter for businesses?
Following China’s rapid digitalization, using Chinese social media is considered mandatory if you plan to conquer the Chinese market. Nowadays, all the international brands have an Official Weibo Account.
Even though many of you know that WeChat is the most popular app in China, Weibo is not at rest either, raffling the second place of the most popular apps in China. Many journalists, celebrities, and brands consider it as one of the most effective ways to advertise and promote a brand in China. In 2018, over 70% of its revenues were generated from advertising and marketing on Weibo. Amid the booming live streaming and video advertising in China, there is still plenty of room for Weibo to grow.
Creating your Weibo account
Given the fact that there are a lot of celebrities, KOLs, enterprises, and government authorities opening accounts on Sina Weibo, Weibo has a verification policy to avoid impersonation and ensure that the account and the person behind it are authentic (it is similar to Twitter and Instagram’s verified accounts).
For celebrities, the “V” badge is orange, and for companies or organizations, it is blue.
The importance of having a verified account
In China, the majority of the population is quite concerned about fake products and fake accounts. Thus, they will be more likely to follow and like posts from verified accounts. So, if you want to do business in China effectively, you’ll have to register as a business, then get verified on Weibo.
After that, everyone will see the little tick on the right of your profile picture and your profile will gain more visibility.
Applying for a verified account on Weibo
After registering on Weibo as a business, it is necessary that you get it verified. It will give you access to more tools and give you more credibility with your followers. If you are a foreign entity you’ll have to pay an entry fee of $1000 against $300 if you have a Chinese business license. After registering a personal account, you have to submit documents such as application letters, company registration papers, etc. translated into Chinese. Afraid of the paperwork? We can help you with registering and creating a verified Weibo account.
How does Weibo will benefit your business?
As you have seen, Weibo is one of the most popular social media in China. Thus, it will be extremely useful for your business in order to reach a wide audience and promote your brand. The best way to be present in the Chinese market would be to create both an official WeChat and Weibo account.
The best way to promote your business on Weibo
Like any website, viewers tend to be attracted to posts on which there’s a picture or a video. Thus, you will have to focus on the visuals of your brand and share as much visual content as possible.
Furthermore, don’t forget to put multiple hashtags and tags in your post, in order to gain visibility. You should use hashtags directly related to your brand or field, but also some trending hashtags.
For example, if we look at this post from L’Oréal Pro, it has respected all of the criteria: video, hashtag directly related to L’Oréal, trending hashtags, and tag.
- Target your audience
Like in any country of the world, targetting your audience is essential for an effective advertising and marketing strategy. It will allow you to attract the desired audience without wasting time and money.
Most of Weibo’s users are young, so you should target them to promote your brand, by posting creative, dynamic, and colorful content with pictures and videos.
- Take part in events
When planning your advertising and marketing strategy, you should take into account Chinese special events during which you will be able to multiply your sales (11.11, Valentine’s Day, Golden Week, Halloween, etc).
This is an example of Qiduoduo’s post on Weibo, during Halloween. In fact, the young generation tends to celebrate western events over the years, which is a tremendous opportunity for brands to promote their products.
- Localize your content
Localization is a service used to adapt a product, page, or app to a specific market. A localization strategy is based on customers’ behavior, purchasing habits, and general cultural differences in each country in which it operates.
When a company enters a foreign market, it becomes difficult to offer buyers a specific customer experience. Therefore, defining country-by-country location ensures that Chinese customers benefit from the same experience as they would in another country while keeping their habits.
Creating your Chinese Website should be one of the first steps in your localization marketing strategy. A website tailored to Chinese consumers will offer credibility to your brand as consumers search for products on Baidu or e-commerce platforms.
Marketing localization is one of the components for making a company successful in China. When entering the Chinese digital market, it is important to fully grasp the unique dynamics of the localization process.
If you want to ensure that your brand message stays intact and prevent unnecessary brand damage, invest in our team with marketing and localization knowledge that can effectively convey your brand message to the local audience.
GMA offers a valid solution through local SEO review, high-quality translation, and localized engagement to customers, so if you want more information about that, you can contact us.
- Community Management is the key
It is crucial to keep in touch with your Weibo follower by answering their questions, suggestions but also by keeping your Weibo page alive. Post contents that are clear, easy to read, and easy to share. Your post will get only a second of attention so seize the opportunity. Be sure to know effectively promote your products, as Weibo users are looking for discounts and commercial offers. The ads system on Weibo is similar to Facebook and one of the cheapest options with a good ROI.
- Brand awareness
Weibo is, along with WeChat, one of the most important tools to increase your brand’s awareness when establishing in China. Weibo follows trends, challenges, news and brings together a lot of users who may be interested in your brand. Thanks to hashtags, you can build a real community around your products and gain visibility in China.
Weibo: A Powerful Tool for your E-reputation
Chinese people heavily rely on the brand’s online reputation to purchase products. This is why it is important to be visible online, as well as promote your business through social media. Weibo is different than WeChat because, unlike WeChat, Weibo is an open social media accessible for everyone.
So, to use effectively Weibo, you can follow these steps:
- Create an official verified account in order to promote and present your products on the platform.
- Create a digital marketing strategy by creating original content to reach your target
- Use this content to inspire your community with new ideas and trends
- Grow your blog and posts using other bloggers and KOLs to build engagement
- Increase your visibility by showing your presence: be active, visible, and patient for your customers
Advertising on Weibo
In terms of functionalities, Weibo is akin to Twitter with micro-posts, hashtag functionality, as well as content/video links making up the majority of posted content.
In terms of advertising infrastructure, it is more akin to Facebook than any of its rivals and it is arguably a better platform for advertising than WeChat:
- Targeted and very specific so that users can be focused on your advertisement
- More cost-effective, with a lower minimum ad price than WeChat, it is recommended for A/B testing
- Weibo is an Open Network, which allows a better exposure
You also have to take into account that Weibo benefits from a profitable partnership with Alibaba when it comes to e-commerce ads. However, if you were planning to advertise to non-Alibaba e-commerce apps, you should know that the app has been putting a limitation on that practice.
Types of Ads on Weibo
Weibo Fan Tunnels
Fan tunnels are the most targeted and intelligent way of reaching new consumers and followers. You can use this to promote either a specific post or simply just your account. It works like a ‘headline’, appearing at the top of the user’s news feed.
This type of Weibo ad is particularly effective to build a large community quickly, which is highly appreciated by new brands in China. Fan Tunnels focus on Weibo’s community, not just existing followers. It will put your content at the top of news feeds based on targeted audiences defined by age, gender, region, interests, and even device types.
You can specify the interests of followers and target other accounts for similar niches. You can select users who follow specific fashion news and fashion-related posts to be targeted for example.
In terms of budget, Fan Tunnels works with CPM (Cost Per Mille). The lowest price would be 5rmb for 1000 views.
Display Ads on Weibo
Display ads are traditional but certainly still effective, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. Display ads come in various dimensions on different pages. They are optimized for both the mobile and web versions (although mobile is predominantly used).
When users click on the ads they are redirected to the advertiser’s homepage. Pricing depends on the page placement, size, and keyword association.
Weibo allows a targeted approach with keywords selected for visibility based on user searches, you can also feature displays on other relevant accounts that boast followers in the same niche.
Display ads are mainly put on the search page (in the discover section), on the Weibo homepage as well as on the side of the user’s news feeds (akin to Facebook Ads).
Furthermore, it is also possible to advertise your brand on the opening page. It means that your ad will appear as soon as users open their Weibo.
You can either choose a static ad or a video ad, however, videos ads tends to retain users’ attention longer.
Read as well: Guide to Weibo Paid Advertising
KOLs: A good way to gain visibility on Weibo
Discover the benefits of creating and promoting content through influencers’ marketing! Many KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders), operate on Weibo to give brands the visibility and success they deserve. Whether it’s videos, photos, or challenges, the possibilities are endless to increase your brand’s visibility in China.
As of 2019, a micro KOL could have approximately 200 thousand impressions per post on Weibo whereas a top-tier KOL could have one million impressions per post. Based on the number of followers and influence scale, KOLs are classified into four different classes in China: Top-tier, Mid-tier, Micro, and Longtail.
Contact us to get started on Weibo
Case study – Balance on Weibo
Balance is an Australian water brand focusing on the health benefits of the local flora. The water brand infused in subtle ways indigenous plants so that the taste of the water. The brand is growing quickly over the world and they chose GMA to promote their water in China. The main challenge for Balance Australian Water is that Chinese distributors do not look for products but for a brand since it is easier to sell. Therefore, marketing the brand to the public has double benefits: Get a wider coverage of your water brand in the general public and the interest of Chinese distributors. In order to promote the brand, we have to work on e-reputation and visibility. Our first step was to create Balance Australian Water a presence on Social Media: Wechat and Weibo and make sure they rank on Baidu with tools such as PR, Q&A, a Baike Account, etc.
- + 8000 Followers on Wechat
- Wechat H5 shared in +200 groups
- 5 keywords ranked on Baidu 1st page
- Weibo +200% Views
- Weibo +20k followers
- 5PR /month
- Exhibition with PR on 30 media Outlets
- Co-Branding with multiples Brands/Coffee shop (ex: Oatly)
Case Study – Smiley on Weibo
Smiley, an award-winning company, TOP 100 global licensing company, registered in over 100 countries. It has about 260 licensees and leading retail partners that have joined Smiley’s happy revolution, creating a unique collection of Smiley-branded fashion, accessories, home, food, stationery, and entertainment items. They needed GMA for their Weibo account creation & management thanks to social media campaigns & KOLs campaigns to increase their brand awareness. We also handled their e-reputation through press releases in China.
Results on Weibo
- 1,049 Posts
- 1,580,000 Views
- 21,268 Followers
- 4 Reposts from KOLs
- 4 Press Releases (VOGUE, Tencent, GQ & Rayli)
After reading this article, you can see that Weibo is an open social media channel where Chinese people can get the latest gossips, follow trends, and find information about specific topics. Thus, it is an excellent marketing tool for brands to grow their awareness and become viral, as well as for paid advertising. Our agency can help you create your Weibo Official Account, Paid Advertising Campaigns, Content creation, Fan Headlines, Fan Tunnels, and so on. So, if you want to know more about Weibo or social media in media, do not hesitate to contact us.
Our Weibo services