Should your brand be on Weibo?
If you’re looking to make it big in the Chinese market, then you need to get on Weibo. The name literally translates as “microblog”, but there’s nothing micro about this social platform.
In our new blog series, we take an in depth look at so-called “fringe” social platforms, with Weibo the focus for this article. We explain what Weibo is, who’s using it, and give you an idea whether it’s worth your while building a presence for your brand.
What is Weibo?
Weibo is a Chinese microblogging platform that has enjoyed spectacular growth since launching in 2009. The social media platform, also known as the Chinese version of Twitter, has a staggering 600 million registered users and has the following key features:
- Post with a 140-character limit
- Mention or talk to people using “@UserName”
- Add hashtags using “#HashName#”
- Follow users
- Re-post using “//@UserName”
- Select post and add to favourites
- Attach image, sound and video in every post
Are my customers using Weibo?
Weibo has huge potential if you do business in China. It is by far the largest social media platform in China, which could be down to the fact that Facebook and Twitter are banned in the country. Users are used to seeing ads too, with some stats revealing that three quarters of users don’t mind ads, while more than half may click on popular ads.
There are many Western celebs and brands that have joined the Weibo community. Here is just a taste of the breadth of users:
- Tom Cruise
- Coca Cola
- Tourism New Zealand
- Cirque du Soleil
It’s important to know that there are several versions of Weibo with access to the Chinese version restricted to genuine Chinese citizens. There are also versions that cater to users from Hong Kong, Taiwan and soon there’ll be an international version in English and other languages.
Is it an effective use of my time?
The elephant in the room is the language barrier. Once you log in, you can post in whatever language you want, but the interface is tricky if you don’t know the Chinese characters. However, Weibo is developing its international version in English and other languages. In the meantime, only Weibo’s official iPhone and iPad apps have English language options available.
If language isn’t an issue and Weibo looks like a good choice to launch a campaign, it’s crucial to remember the golden rule of social media engagement: know your audience. Topics that seem benign to Westerners can blow up on this platform and ultimately undo everything you’ve worked hard to build.
You need to do your homework and find out the specifics of your Chinese market, their likes, motivations and cultural quirks. If you invest in a comprehensive digital strategy, there’s potential to grab a real chunk of the market on Weibo.
What other “fringe” social channels should I be using?
It’s worth being aware of other social media platforms that may be suited to your brand and market. As part of our latest blog series, we are examining several so-called “fringe” social channels. Like us on Facebook or follow iFactory on Twitter to find out more on: