Weibo 101

China’s Super Twitter

More than half a billion users, a variety of advertising options, and collaboration with other platforms. What makes Weibo, China’s Super Twitter, a must platform for B2Bs that want to conquer the Chinese market?

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Who are you?

Weibo, or Sina Weibo, is the most popular microblogging platform in China.
It was created in 2009 as an innovative product for desktops only. Its competitor, Weibo TenCent (in Chinese, Weibo means ‘microblog’) took advantage of the vacuum in the market and launched a mobile application. Despite that first blow, Sina Weibo recuperated, launched its own mobile application, and became the most popular microblogging platform in China with more than 500 million users, becoming the most popular in the globe.

How is Weibo used? The platform is very similar to Twitter. Most users use Weibo to get news updates and read about trends, celebrities, and everything in between. Since technically it provides more room to maneuver, users benefit from a wider variety of options to consume content.

What can you do with Weibo?

In general, microblogging. In simple terms, everything Twitter does and more. The core of the platform is a news feed where you can view posts uploaded by accounts/hashtags that can be followed. The posts have short texts, links, pictures, videoclips, and even products for online sales.

Until recently, there was a limitation of 140 characters per post, similar to Twitter. But the platform’s managers decided to allow texts up to 2,000 characters. And if that’s not enough, they also added a feature that allows posting full articles, which obviously contain many more characters.

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What can you do with Weibo?

Only 19% of Weibo’s users are over the age of 30. We may think that its age group makes it less relevant for B2B marketing. However, 70% of the users hold a graduate or postgraduate degree.

This does not necessarily mean that you can always reach the exact user that you want, but it does increase the possibilities of reaching platform users who already have good and relevant jobs. Even with its drawbacks, it’s still important for your company to have a presence in Weibo.

What’s in it for me? Organic marketing in Weibo

As opposed to media giant WeChat, one of its greatest competitors, Weibo enables companies of all sizes to engage in organic social campaigns easily and cost-effectively.

Why is the distinction so important? Because WeChat doesn’t offer new content to users. For example, when new users create an account in WeChat, their feed is empty. It does not have offers, nothing like “You may also like…”, and no areas of interest. Moreover, if users don’t actively follow a page, they will not be exposed to its content. Even though this may seem a technical, unimportant detail, it is critical for business. It means that companies must invest a lot of money, time, and effort to ensure that their content reaches WeChat users, especially when they are taking their first steps in the platform.

On Weibo, on the other hand, things are different. Weibo’s operation is (relatively) similar to the platforms in the west. When users create a new account, the platform makes suggestions to follow pages with content that may be of interest to them. Weibo also uses hashtags a lot. In addition to using keywords, this tiny character enables users to follow topics that interest them. And what does this technical detail mean for companies? That in Weibo you can serve content to users who are not following your company’s page. In other words, you can build a target audience, increase awareness, and engage in content marketing at a low cost.

In addition to hashtags and content served to the followers of a specific page, Weibo also shows its users information about the trendiest topics and searches. This may be self-explanatory, but companies that are successful in appearing on these pages can serve content to millions of users.

What kind of posts can you publish? Exactly like in Twitter and more. Or actually, much more. The platform enables you to upload text posts with a very generous limitation of the number of characters, and if this is not enough, it also enables to post long articles. You can also upload up to 9 pictures per post, videoclips, add links, and even synchronize a business Weibo page with the company’s eCommerce page in Alibaba (which, by the way, holds 30% of Weibo’s shares).

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What’s in it for me? Organic marketing in Weibo

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Formats

  • Weibo enables us to create campaigns similar to the ones we are familiar with in the west – text plus visual (video, one or more pictures), and a link. This campaign can be served to a variety of audiences.

  • Search campaigns. Chinese audiences make wide use of searches on social platforms. Similar to the platforms we use in the west, the content of ads presented is determined by keyboards. The price is calculated accordingly.

  • Display ads. Like its competitors in the Chinese market, Weibo enables companies to advertise banners.

  • In addition to the campaigns, we’re all familiar with, Weibo’s advertising system provides more unique options. They are more relevant to B2C, but we’re still mentioning them here because we believe that you can use them creatively:

    • Repost campaign – a function that encourages users to share a post and participate in a prize-winning lottery
    • Content-collection campaign – users can create content themselves and tag the page
    • Preorder/free trial – a feature that enables users to register for a trial period or to preorder a specific product
    • Lucky roulette – prize-winning roulette
    • Flash sale – sales of products for a limited period of time

 

All these campaign types are built-in features of Weibo.

Targeting options

When it comes to targeting a specific audience, Weibo is less advanced than its American counterpart. It allows targeting audiences according to:

  • Demographics – age, gender, location

  • Device

  • Fields of interests

  • Followers of your company’s page

  • Followers of your competitor’s page

 

As opposed to western advertising platforms, Weibo doesn’t allow creating audiences based on existing data like lists of emails.

In summary, the low costs involved in advertising in Weibo make it a great starting point for companies that want to penetrate the Chinese market. However, the age of the target audience, its homogeneity, and its limited paid targeting options highlight the fact that Weibo is a good solution, but only as part of a greater scheme. As the only marketing tool, it doesn’t stand on its own two feet.

If you want to learn more about marketing in APAC,  you’re welcome to visit our content area and learn more  >> APAC marketing blogs 

If you want to talk to us about your marketing efforts in APAC, contact us!

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FAQ

Xtra mile is a B2B lifecycle-marketing agency that operates in Israel, Europe, and the United States.

With over 15 years of experience working with leading customers in the high-tech, medical and technology industries, Xtra mile helps businesses increase customer lifetime value (CLV) while dramatically reducing customer acquisition 
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