Weibo marketing strategy: Use Weibo to drive growth

weibo marketing strategy

Developing a Weibo marketing strategy that gets results isn’t easy.

There’s nuances to the Chinese marketplace — and social media tools — that can make getting traction difficult. Knowing which apps to use, and which strategies to pursue can be a minefield.

Consider this; WeChat is the app that does everything. It’s the most important digital platform in China. So what’s the point of using Weibo for marketing? What makes Weibo appealing to digital marketers and businesses in China?

What is Weibo?

Firstly, it should be explained that Weibo, which means microblog in Chinese, is a mixture of Facebook and Twitter. As opposed to WeChat, Weibo is a more open and public platform. This openness makes the potential for exposure and outreach greater than on WeChat. It can also be an additional and important channel of communication. The Chinese mostly use Weibo for trend-spotting and entertainment.

Weibo marketing trend data is available within the social media platform

Thus, as a marketer one has the tools for increasing brand awareness by using a celebrity or a KOLs (or wanghong in Chinese). Weibo is also a good tool for gathering information about Chinese customers’ trends and entertainment.

Although Weibo does not have as many users as WeChat, there are 170 million users every day. These users are accustomed to using comment sections as a tool for social interaction. Because of this, Weibo provides a grand platform for communication with customers.

Add Weibo to your firm’s marketing strategy if you’d like to get exposure to your brand in China and interact with your audience. When you build a following of people who know, like, and trust you, then selling becomes much easier.

Weibo marketing strategies in action

The North Face used a very effective Weibo marketing strategy by engaging with users on Weibo. One user posted a picture of a pair of shoes that he wanted to buy for his wife. The North Face responded in the comments by offering the user a discount coupon (see the picture below). This kind of interaction offers an incentive to keep discussing the brand. In another case, The North Face offered a pleasant surprise to everyone who commented on a promotion of their new line of clothing.

Weibo Social Media Engagement North Face
Example of North Face Engaging with fans on Weibo

Tourism New Zealand is another company which has been successful at marketing on Weibo. They hired Huang Lei who is famous for acting, singing, writing screenplays, and teaching at the university. He was invited to New Zealand to promote New Zealand as an ideal destination. During his time in New Zealand, he posted on Weibo about his trip. This story got a lot of attention, with half a million likes and more than 1.6 million views. Five hundred articles were published as a result of this story, which turned out to be valuable advertising for Tourism New Zealand.

Keep these in mind when marketing using Weibo

Interact with your audience

Although becoming more popular in the West, interaction is essential in China. Responding to comments, interacting with suppliers — as well as other partners — is critical. It isn’t seen as a value-add, it’s expected on Weibo.

Deeply understand your audience

Likewise, buyer personas may not be outright essential in many industries and markets outside of China. Within China however, any marketing efforts with Weibo, WeChat, Baidu, or other tools won’t produce results unless you know exactly who you’re speaking to or targeting. Only then can you communicate effectively.

Draw up your buyer personas in conjunction with local specialists. Specialists can shed more insight and detailed information. Getting this right is the difference between getting traction and an uphill struggle.

Weibo marketing strategy requires local knowledge of China

Use local knowledge

Similar to above, local knowledge is key. An awareness of what’s going on, how your target market think, make decisions, and other factors unique to their situation can only be achieved by someone on the ground. To establish a connection — let alone run a successful marketing or advertising campaign — you have to genuinely understand the circumstances and way of life of your prospects.

Use native content writers or proof readers 

You know better than to rely on Google translate. Content created or checked by native eyes will ensure you avoid any potential faux pas. Not only that, you’ll establish a greater connection, and demonstrate better understanding of your audience. That means more trust, more positive reception, and more conversions.

Engage experts on China

The four factors above should make it clear that you need someone with experience and expertise at running marketing campaigns within China. There’s no way to get around it if you want results. While there are similarities with Western marketing, your Weibo marketing strategy needs to keep your Chinese audience in mind.

Share case-studies and reviews

Marketing content that revolves around case studies, reviews, and social proof does just as well in China as in the West. Just don’t fake anything. Nothing will cost you more than diminishing trust or integrity.

Create on-trend content

Weibo allows users (and marketers) to see what content is trending on the platform. Use this to inform the type and topic of your content. Ideal choices are content that is performing well or is increasing in popularity.

SEO to increase exposure

Make sure your posts include top related keywords. Taking a strategic approach to marketing on Weibo will help you get found.

Shared tactics that work in China and the West

Many best practices in the West are applicable in a Chinese market too. Video content is promoted by the platform in a similar way to Facebook. Likewise, text posts should be accompanied by an image that supports the message.

Step it up with Weibo advertising

Weibo advertising and marketing tactics for China

Weibo advertising in China is an important part of your overall Weibo marketing strategy. 

Fan tunnelling boosts either a specific post, or your account as a whole. It’s the go-to first step to promote your business when you start your account from scratch. This is how you grow and gain your first followers. Established businesses can also use this to reach a wider audience and grow further.

Fan headlines make a post more prominent to those already following you (and other relevant connections). If you have an engaging piece of content, promoting it and ensuring it is seen above other content can boost click-throughs and other metrics.

A fan pass is an ad campaign, operated through an account management platform. While similar to Facebook ads, the accounts require local ID and take 1 week for approval to be granted. Alternatively, for a fee and longer approval time, international businesses can get set up as well.

Micro tasks make use of KOLs (key opinion leaders) — these are essentially influencers. You pay a deposit, choose a KOL, and you can set a task wherein your content appears for a set duration on their account.

After setting up your Weibo account, prizes and giveaways can help you get followers and traction. As you grow, you can make use of your larger audience with promotions that tie in with Chinese holidays and festivals, and other strategies covered above.

Create an effective Weibo marketing strategy

  1. Set up your ad account if you haven’t already
  2. Brand your profile and add content
  3. Research and define your audience
  4. Interact, reply, and engage with others
  5. Get help from specialists with local knowledge
  6. Make use of Weibo’s trend data
  7. SEO your posts
  8. Create engaging content and invite interaction
  9. Choose your Weibo advertising method that best suits your goal – to either grow your follower count, or turn them into customers

Just remember, marketing with Weibo is one link in your marketing chain. There are many tools and approaches you can use to get traction in China. As is the case in the West, a combination is most effective. Weibo is an excellent platform for increasing brand awareness and connecting with your Chinese customers. It can certainly be valuable and beneficial as part of your marketing strategy into digital China. If you’d like to market and grow your business in China, get in touch with our experts to make sure you do it right.

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