The term ‘Weibo’ in Chinese means ‘micro-blog’. With over 573 million monthly active users, Sina Weibo is China’s biggest microblogging website and app.
It was launched by Sina Corporation in 2009. At that time, it used to be the only social platform in China and was referred to as ‘Twitter of China’. It has since been overshadowed by the Chinese social media platforms that were launched later – WeChat, Toutiao and Douyin. Today, the app has many more features that are comparable to Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, and YouTube.
What Is Weibo?
With so many Chinese media apps gaining popularity, one might wonder if Weibo is still relevant? Who uses Weibo? And, what does the platform look like?
Weibo is still very popular in China and the second biggest social media platform after Tencent’s WeChat. Sina Weibo is used by the younger population of China looking for informational and trending content.
When the platform was first launched, it resembled Twitter. Users could post with a 140-character limit, mention or talk to other people using “@UserName”, add hashtags as ‘#hashtag#, follow other users, re-post with “//@UserName” and celebrities, brands and businesses could verify their account.
In 2016, the character limit was increased to 2000. And later, a feature to add up-to 9 images per post was released. This made the platform much more similar to Instagram.
Today’s Sina Weibo has elements of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Medium.
What Can Weibo Users Do With Their Account?
Users can do the following activities with their Weibo mobile app –
- Post with a 2000 character limit (Only first 140 characters are visible with a ‘See More’ option)
- Add up to 9 images per post
- Use Weibo wallet to make payments within Weibo.
- Live Stream (only limited to influencers, with the option for viewers to directly buy during a livestream)
- Post videos (now preferred by the algorithm)
- Partner with Taobao for social commerce within the app.
- Post articles like WeChat.
- Own a hashtag.
- Earn rewards through their reward system.
- Post stories, react with Emojis and browse through trending topics.
- Follow users and interact through direct messaging.
What Is Sina Weibo Used For?
Weibo hosts over 400 million business pages and news outlets. It’s also popular with many non-Chinese speaking celebrities who use the page to reach out to their Chinese fanbase.
Most Weibo users are young with 30 percent of them under 20 years. About 48% of the users are between 30-39 years old. The ratio of males to females is about 47:33.
Young Chinese consumers, especially Generation Z, use Weibo to discover the trending brands.
The promotions from KOLs get a lot of attention and engagement on the platform.
Every day, around 130 million words are published and 1.5 million videos are streamed live on the platform. Most popular categories on Weibo are humor, fashion, and beauty. Weibo users are able to upload videos, photos, music, GIFs and even attach URLs to their posts.
A lot of non-Chinese speaking users are also on the platform as Weibo is great for making Chinese friends and finding language exchange partners. One way is to use the automatic Google translate option on the website or app.
However, a better alternative would be the Sina Weibo International app. This app allows you to translate the text to understand it better. It’s much more user friendly.
However, Weibo International is only accessible once you’ve registered through the original Sina Weibo. Each user is verified to comply with the laws by the Cyberspace Administration of China. Due to this, no anonymous accounts are allowed.
Once you are verified as a user, a colorful V is appended to your username. Individuals receive an orange V, while businesses receive a blue V.
Weibo also lets you make direct purchases through Weibo Wallet. This wallet can be linked to your Alipay account or your credit card. You may then use it to pay your loans, insurance, purchase movie tickets or even to book online appointments. Another new feature on Weibo is their gaming center.
Weibo Chinese Social Media Platform Insights 2022
- 94% of Weibo monthly active users are on mobile. (ChinaInternetWatch)
- Female and male Chinese users are distributed quite evenly on the platform with the former accounting for 50.5 percent. (Statistica)
- For the third quarter of 2021, Weibo’s total net revenues from Chinese market were $607.4 million (up by 30% as compared to last year) – (ChinaInternetWatch)
- All of the Top 10,000 KOL Weibo accounts have over one million followers, among which 91% have between 1 million and 10 million followers. (ChinaInternetWatch)
- Weibo’s users aren’t limited to China. There are thousands of registered users living in Europe, the US and elsewhere in the world. In the UK alone there are estimated to be over 500,000 Weibo users. (TheDrum)
How To Use Weibo Account To Promote Your Business?
In September 2021, Weibo had an average of 248 million daily active users (“DAUs”) which accounted for 56.8% of the Chinese microblogging market. It’s expected to increase to 613.7 million monthly active users by 2025. This makes the platform highly lucrative for businesses looking to grow in China.
Here are some ways businesses can leverage Weibo to expand their user base.
Weibo Influencer Campaigns
The most popular way to reach new target consumers through Weibo is to pay or gift influencers in exchange for exposure. The integration of Weibo with Taobao and Tmall makes the platform perfect for KOL marketing.
Once the users click a product link or coupon displayed in a Weibo influencer post, they are redirected to the relevant shopping page (on Taobao or Tmall) where they can complete the purchase.
These campaigns are known to be very effective. In fact, the cost per 1000 impressions is 55 times cheaper on Weibo as compared to WeChat.
Weibo has thrived because it built on the recent major trends in China – the Wanghongs (internet celebrities), live videos and short videos. Weibo’s Super Wanghong Festival was successful in attracting all famous Chinese influencers.
Wanghong post tutorials or reaction videos of themselves while using the products. These videos, posts and livestreams increase interest and exposure to brands and products in the long run. With the vast number of KOLs, KOCs and Wanghongs, Weibo is one of the best platforms to launch influencer campaigns.
Weibo Paid Ads
Weibo Advertising is very similar to Facebook and even better as compared to WeChat advertising. Weibo allows you to be very targeted and specific which also makes it more cost-effective. It has a lower minimum ad price than WeChat and supports A/B testing.
It also supports retargeting users and Tmall customers who participated in past campaigns.
An organic post gets an average reach of 10% – 15% of its total following on Weibo. For better reach, there are 3 types of ads on Weibo that you can experiment with.
Weibo Fan Tunnels
Fan tunnels are popular as the most intelligent way to reach new consumers. When you use this ad type, Weibo places your content at the top of users’ news feeds. You can target the audience based on age, gender, region, interests and even device types.
For instance, if you’re a fashion brand you can target the Chinese fashion market by selecting users who follow fashion news or interact with fashion related posts. These ads can be run for as little as 5 RMB for 1000 impressions.
Brands also use this ad type to build a community. You can also use this ad type to promote your account or a specific post in a targeted manner.
Display ads are the most common types of paid ads on any social media platform. They are mainly static or video ads that may appear in various dimensions across different pages. When users click on these ads, they are taken to the advertiser’s website.
On Weibo, these ads are optimized for web as well as mobile. The cost of the ad depends on the size of the ad, the placement on the page as well as the target keywords.
You can target users based on the terms a user searches on the platform. Interestingly, you can also feature display ads on other relevant accounts that boast followers in the same niche.
These ads can also be made to appear on the opening page, which means that it will be the first thing the users see when they open the Weibo app.
Micro Tasks Weibo Post
Another way to grow your followers and reach is by paying other accounts to repost your content. Business account holders can create tasks and choose specific Weibo accounts to post or repost their ad campaigns.
The Weibo lottery is a smart way to connect with your audience by letting them win prizes. Since Chinese consumers are not the ones to be fooled by marketing gimmicks, Weibo has figured out a transparent way to run these lottery contests.
Users can simply be rewarded for the actions (like, share, etc.) they take on the app and the winner is determined transparently by the Weibo marketing system.
Weibo Cross Promotion
By cross-promoting with other Weibo accounts targeting a similar audience group, you can build a high-quality following. Once you have an official account you can build a community, publish updates without limit, launch marketing campaigns based on KOL posts & cross promotional links.
For B2C companies, Weibo is a great platform to build organic reach. Good commercial content on Weibo can be a lot more impactful than on Wechat as it’s more likely to get shared or go viral. Since Weibo is an open social media, your posts and comments are accessible to everyone.
When users have a good experience with a product or a brand, they are more likely to comment and share about the same. For this reason, Weibo is the go-to place for many to evaluate the credibility of a new brand.
The platform is also the number one choice for many journalists, celebrities, and brands to advertise and promote a brand in China. Many international brands have an official account of Weibo for the marketing and promotion.
How To Create An Account On Weibo?
To ensure authenticity of accounts, Weibo has a verification policy to avoid impersonation. A majority of the Chinese population is concerned about fake products and fake accounts. So, they’re most likely to only follow and engage with verified accounts.
Depending on the verification status of your account, Weibo users can modify their profile appearance and enjoy different privileges.
Not all accounts on Weibo are free of cost. If you’re an individual (or KOL or grass root media), you can sign up for a free account. However, businesses need to pay a fee during registration
Companies, nonprofits, and government institutions need to set up a business account which could range from 1000 USD to 1400 USD depending on your account type. Depending on the plan you choose, you may get access to business account features such as promotions, events, coupons, private messages, data analysis, and social listening.
Note that there are different prices for Chinese companies and foreign companies.