Social media use is a huge part of modern Chinese culture. It’s undoubtedly in people’s everyday life. China is the world’s largest social media market and two of the most popular platforms, Weibo and WeChat, have over 1.75 billion users between them.
With so many billions of eyes on screens, it’s a must to advertise your brand using Weibo and WeChat. But how can you make the most of the commercial opportunity and breakthrough?
Weibo: what you need to know
Weibo means “micro-blog” in Chinese, and it is often referred to as the Twitter of China with a maximum character limit of 2000. It functions similarly to Twitter in that users can share text, images, and videos to their timeline. It also shares a live-streaming function popularized by Instagram.
Between January and June 2021, 850 million people in China used Weibo and its monthly active users settled somewhere around 550 million. That’s a lot of potential customers waiting to be engaged, but Weibo isn’t the only player in the game…
WeChat: what you need to know
WeChat has a lot on offer for its 1.2 billion daily active users. From paying a phone bill to hailing a cab or video calling your mom, it’s no wonder that WeChat is known as the “everything app” or the “super app”.
As China’s most widely used social media platform, WeChat provides many opportunities for brands looking to access the Chinese market. E-commerce, advertising, and content campaigns are all possible on the network.
Advertising on Weibo and WeChat: the differences
So if WeChat is the biggest in terms of daily active users, then surely that’s the go-to social media platform for advertising in China too? It’s not quite that simple actually. Choosing between social media marketing on Weibo and WeChat depends on who your target audience is and the sort of campaign you want to run.
Weibo vs WeChat: Audience type
As a source of news from trusted sources, celebrity gossip, a place to connect with friends, and research brands, Weibo is an attractive model for companies that want their product to appear in front of a lot of people at once. Think mass-market campaigns and products that appeal to a diverse set of individuals.
WeChat, on the other hand, gears its model towards one-to-one relationship building, which means it is better for targeted marketing and developing a long-term and loyal following. Remember, WeChat is based on a closed–loop system. Therefore, strategies around audience building are key to success.
Weibo vs WeChat: Using KOLs
Weibo is the preferred platform for Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs). A KOL is an expert in their field, and paying them to recommend or promote your product to their vast Weibo following is a fantastic way to create buzz and hype.
KOLs exist on WeChat too, they just typically lack the colossal follower bases that are common on Weibo’s official accounts. This can be a plus for businesses looking to target a more loyal and/or niche following.
Essentially, using KOLs on Weibo gives you access to a large number of people — but not all of them will be interested in your product. On WeChat, where a KOL’s audience is relatively smaller and more loyal, you may have a better chance of resonating with a higher percentage of followers.
Advertising on Weibo and WeChat: the similarities
As we’ve just seen, the two social media platforms cater to different commercial strategies. When it comes to some of the finer details, however, you can rely on Weibo and WeChat to operate similarly:
The focus of Weibo and WeChat are not the same; we have established that. But the two sites share a similar demographic:
- People under the age of 20 account for 30% of the Weibo user base.
- While on WeChat, under 24-year-olds make up 33.5% of the user base.
The takeaway? Both social media platforms hold a lot of promise for brands wanting to advertise to Gen Z buyers.
On both WeChat and Weibo, a smart way to get active users engaged in an ad campaign is to offer up prizes or rewards for liking and sharing a post. This gets the people excited and more likely to check out what you are offering.
Sharing valuable resources and designing H5 pages (H5 pages are mobile websites on WeChat. WeChat users can browse through these pages with an in-app web browser. They are usually designed as a promotional page or a dedicated event site. They can be shared by WeChat official accounts or in WeChat Moments.) for events are great ways to engage with your target audience.
Advertising on Weibo and WeChat: pros and cons of each network
So now that you know the essential info for both Weibo and WeChat, plus the differences and similarities, the next question is: which is the right platform for your ad campaign?
WeChat is great for companies that want to engage dedicated and loyal follower bases through targeted marketing. You know that the people seeing your ad will have at least some knowledge or interest in the goods and services you are promoting.
What WeChat lacks is something Weibo has in abundance — and that is the ability to reach mass audiences. Well thought out, relevant, and enticing campaigns on Weibo also have a much higher chance of going viral, something not as likely to happen on WeChat.
|KOL||Weibo: KOLs have massive follower bases. So a promotional post on an account like theirs can reach millions of followers instantly.|
WeChat: KOLs make up for less quantity with more quality. Followers of KOLs here are interested and loyal.
|KOLs on both platforms perform essentially the same service. They create a promotional post and share it with their followers, who can then check out your product via the post.|
|Post length||Weibo: max. 2000 Chinese characters.|
WeChat: no character limit, but the allowed number of daily posts is limited by account type.
|Both platforms support text, images, and videos in posts|
|Ad campaigns||Campaign managers will find that Weibo provides official campaign formats and templates to use|
… but WeChat doesn’t.
|The same strategies are powerful on both social media networks: hashtags drive attention, competitions boost engagement.|
|Audience||Weibo: one-to-many, micro-blog format like Twitter, mass followings, focus on current events. |
WeChat: one-to-one, focuses on relationship- and community-building.
|There is a similar age demographic among users.|
Which one is better for advertising?
There is no easy answer here: Weibo and WeChat are extremely popular in China because they do different things.
Users on Weibo don’t have as strong a connection to the information that shows up on their feed. This is due to the fast and open design of the site — you don’t need to follow an account to see its posts.
The benefit here is that businesses can gain mass brand exposure relatively quickly. That makes it useful for companies looking to get widespread traction in the Chinese market — brand awareness is the name of the marketing game, after all.
WeChat is an excellent option for businesses that want to reach dedicated and loyal users; there’s a better chance of finding customers among a base of like-minded people.
The direction your company should take depends on your goals. Do you want to go viral and exponentially increase your brand awareness in China? That is possible with Weibo (though not guaranteed).
Or, would you rather target a smaller market whose interests are known and could be more likely to resonate with the product or service you are offering (also not guaranteed, of course)?
At AdChina.io, it’s our job to help you succeed in the Chinese market. We can provide guidance, advice, and answers to all your questions regarding the ins and out of using Weibo and WeChat. Reach out to us if you are ready to stop reading — and actually get started!