Sina Weibo, China’s largest SNS so far, has got a nearly 88% penetration rate among the nation’s excess of 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 a closer relationships 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.
Eight steps for Weibo marketing:
Before starting Weibo marketing, you will need to confirm that your customers are on Weibo first. It sounds easy, but many companies simply forget that. Secondly, a 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 the difference between professional Weibo and common Weibo accounts
2. Account setup
There are two most important factors to consider: the design of the company’s Weibo page and the basic setting.
Positioning of the company’s Weibo page
After identifying your targets on Weibo, you can make a position of your account as an account for luxury, or for humorous, or 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, a link to the company website, company introduction, bulletin, associated accounts, a banner of the account, an impressive company icon, and a catchy nickname if you can.
To get more attention from your targets, you could put the QR code or the link to the Weibo account on name cards, email signatures,s and on the company website.
3. Content planning
The content or tweet published on Weibo should be carefully planned because it will be your headache not your benefit if they are carelessly made.
When planning the content, remember these two rules:
- create the content your targets like not what you like;
- don’t put content that may be 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, pay close attention to the popular topic every day, and share professional information with your fans from time to time, mini-game or apps, and 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 content about politics and rumors. Those buzzes have spread very fast while Weibo now is becoming more and more strict with those rumor spreaders.
It’s also better to keep regular publishing because Weibo users are like farmers, they like to harvest interesting information regularly every day..
4. Community management
The essence of Weibo marketing is community management. The community doesn’t need to be big, but they are influential and loyal to the brand. For this kind of fan, Weibo marketers need to pay 80% attention to them because they will spread the information about 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 advertising.
What’s more important is to keep them, here are some keys: @ them every time you have really interesting things for them, quick response to their comment, share their Weibo sometimes, and communicate with them like friends.
5. Reputation Crisis
The 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 the scale or topic of the crisis is, the principles of solving the problem are always right: to gain the sympathy of Weibo users and take use of the influence of the situation.
The winner in a reputation crisis is 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 wins 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 in a weak position are always more favored on Weibo in a 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.
The second rule may look crazy, but it has been proven strategy to improve brand awareness based on the following facts:
- Controversy is always an eye-catching topic, that’s why controversy is the cornerstone of drama.
- Chinese Weibo users are critical enough and not easy to cheat anymore, especially in 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 careful preparation is the best solution for a reputation crisis no matter how advanced your solution could be.
Even organization is an inseparable part of Weibo management. It can help a company’s Weibo account increase its popularity of the account, information about new products in a very short time. The majority of the events on Weibo are sweepstakes.
However, I have seen that the popularity of events, especially sweepstakes on Weibo has decreased greatly. People have gotten 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 if 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
7. Result analysis and report
A big problem for all Weibo marketers is what KPI can reflect the result of Weibo marketing: the number of fans? Sales?
In fact, the result may not reflect on the number of fans in several days, or on sales in several months. Like TV advertising, the result of Weibo is difficult to measure.
What I suggest is to make a special KPI only for your Weibo marketing. Different companies create different accounts for different reasons. In another 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 influencing them. So the KPI should be made based on this idea.
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 an 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 about Weibo marketing or plan for the business, don’t hesitate to contact me for more information or advice: agency @ marketingtochina.com
Check our Case studies here