When it comes to ad reach, the numbers don’t get much bigger than China’s search engines and social networks.
One social media platform, in particular, Weibo, represents an enormous opportunity for advertisers. Why? Because the platform currently boasts 523 million active monthly users as of June 2020 – and that’s out of a total user base of almost a billion.
With such appealing numbers, you’re probably wondering how you can start advertising on Weibo and tap into this huge audience.
Well, that’s precisely what this Weibo advertising guide will teach you.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s dive in!
A brief introduction to Weibo
Sometimes known as China’s answer to Twitter, Weibo is a “microblogging” social media platform that allows users to quickly share text, images, and videos on their timeline.
It also offers live video streaming and its own version of the ever-popular Instagram Stories feature.
Similar to its western equivalent, Weibo originally limited its posts to 140 characters, but this has since been increased to 2000 characters (except reposts and comments).
The platform was first launched as “Sina Weibo” in August 2009 by the Sina Corporation, before being spun off into a dedicated platform simply known as “Weibo” in 2014.
Since its launch, the platform has grown to become one of China’s largest social media platforms.
Why advertise on Weibo? 3 reasons to start today
With such a large audience on the platform, it should be fairly clear why Weibo is such a sought-after channel for advertisers – especially those outside of China looking to make inroads.
But, to clarify, let’s consider three of the best reasons to start advertising on Weibo right away.
#1: Laser-focused audience targeting
Weibo offers a range of different demographic targeting options that can help refine and direct your messaging. Weibo currently allows brands to target by the following criteria:
- Age, gender, and location
- Device (laptop, desktop, mobile, etc.)
- Hobbies or interests
- Specific followers
#2: It’s the ideal entry point to the Chinese market
With such a large user base, Weibo represents an excellent starting point for any brand looking to make a splash in the Chinese marketplace. The low starting cost of Weibo advertising means brands can test the water before ramping up full-scale campaigns.
#3: It helps brands grow as an organic and paid channel
Just like Twitter or Instagram, Weibo isn’t only for paid advertising. In fact, much of the traction a brand creates may be organic in nature. Paid ads can lead to a larger following on the Weibo platform which can in turn reduce their reliance on paid channels.
Available ad types on Weibo
Before you begin building a Weibo advertising campaign, it’s important to understand your options when it comes to ad types.
There are 4 main ad types which you can use with Weibo to deliver your message:
Perhaps the most popular ad type on Weibo, the Fan Headline is an ad placement situated at the top of a user’s personal timeline for 24 hours, similar to a sponsored post on Facebook or Twitter. The key differentiator of the Fan Headline is that it targets your existing followers as well as their personal connections.
Fan Headlines are available in three variations:
- Fan Headline for Posts will place your Weibo post at the top of the targeted users’ timelines.
- Fan Headline for Other’s Posts is the same as above, except that you can pin another user’s post – such as an influencer who is championing your brand.
- Fan Headline for Accounts will suggest your profile to Weibo users to generate new followers.
Similar in most respects to the Fan Headline, a Fan Tunnel placement is a sponsored post that appears at the top of user feeds for 24 hours. The difference with a Fan Tunnel, however, is that it targets all of the Weibo community, rather than just your own followers and their connections.
Fan Tunnel placements are a great way for brands with small followings to reach a large audience in a short span of time.
Almost as old as the internet itself, Display Ads remain a mainstay of online advertising – including on the Weibo platform.
Weibo Display Ads will appear in various positions across the platform, including in the ‘discover’ section of the search page, on the homepage of Weibo, and within users’ individual timelines.
Weibo Search Engine
One of the things that set Weibo apart from competitors like WeChat in China is that it offers a real-time search engine.
This allows users to search for brands, posts, and other users. The reason the Search Engine ad type is so useful for brands is that – just like with Google Ads – you can choose to be placed in the results for particular search terms. This makes your positioning and targeting a lot easier to handle.
Basics of Weibo advertising account set up
For Weibo advertising account registration, you need to provide:
- Your company location
- Company name
- Business number
- Business registration address
- Registered capital
- Legal representative
- Business license photocopy
- Contact person details
As a second step, for account verification, you will need:
- Authorization letter for Sina Weibo account
- Download and fill in Sina Weibo community convention
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The cost of advertising on Weibo
One of the biggest benefits of choosing Weibo over other search-focused advertising channels in China is the flexibility of its pricing models.
With Weibo, you can choose from two different payment models based on your goals:
- CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions) will charge you based on how many times your ad is shown within the feed of Weibo users.
Pricing for CPM on Weibo starts at 5 RMB per thousand impressions and bids can be incremented by 0.1 RMB.
- CPE (Cost Per Engagement) charges brands based on how many times the ad is engaged with by users.
This may be clicks, likes, forwards, or follows. Pricing for CPE on Weibo starts at 0.5 RMB per engagement and bids can be incremented by 0.1 RMB.
The specific Weibo advertising cost for impressions or engagements can be determined by an automated bidding solution – similar to that used by Google Ads in the west. Brands have complete control of their budgets to avoid overspending – or to focus spend on a specific ad or audience.
Running a successful Weibo advertising campaign – 3 top tips
If you’re considering developing a digital campaign for the Chinese market, Weibo represents the ideal starting point.
Before you jump in, though, here are our 3 top tips for a successful Weibo advertising campaign.
#1: Pick your ad type carefully for maximum reach
Before you launch a campaign, be sure you understand each ad type and where it should be used.
Doing this will ensure maximum ROI for your ad spend on Weibo.
#2: Look into engaging an influencer (KOL)
Influencer marketing isn’t just a western phenomenon. In China, influencers are known as “KOLs” (Key Opinion Leaders) and they have just as large followings (if not larger) than those on Facebook and Instagram.
#3: Take advantage of giveaways to find new followers
One of the most popular ways of engagement on the Weibo platform is giveaways and competitions.
Users are always hungry for more opportunities to win, so your brand might find a reliable source of new followers by hosting a particularly compelling giveaway.
There you have it: the essential guide to advertising on Weibo and reaching a fully engaged audience of hundreds of millions (and growing)
If your brand is interested in tapping into the incredible potential of China as a digital marketing opportunity, explore Weibo (and many more China-based promotional channels) by creating a free AdChina.io account today.