Whether you run a UK-based ecommerce store and want to reach a global audience, or you’re ready to expand your business into China with a physical store, having a presence on Chinese social networks is important, as it helps you reach new customers and expand your brand.
One of the most popular is Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter. In this article, we offer an introduction to Weibo for UK-based businesses and share some top tips for developing a presence on the platform that allows you to stand out from the competition and make money.
What is Weibo?
Weibo is one of the most popular social networks in China, with its name (微博) meaning microblog. Launched in 2009 by Sina Corp, the platform was designed to serve as an alternative to Twitter, allowing Chinese users to share, create and discover content with their friends, celebrities and well-known brands. Unlike some social networks in the Western world, Weibo is an ‘open network’, so users can see posts from anyone, without needing to connect.
Recent data suggests that the social network has more than 430 million active monthly users and an impressive 190 million daily users. Weibo says that 93% of its audience accesses the platform from their mobile, which helped generate revenue of more than $1.15 billion in 2017.
Despite its age, Weibo continues to grow month on month, with video consumption doubling in less than a year. Influencers and ‘head users’ (users who create their own content on the social network) now create 50% more videos than they did a year ago, whilst Weibo’s partnership with 1,300 content agencies has resulted in more influencer content and increased engagement.
One reason why Weibo is so attractive to brands is that the network attracts young professional workers. As companies can create their own content (which users can interact with) and sell their products and services on the social network, it pays to be active and develop an audience.
Types of Weibo accounts
Weibo offers two types of accounts - personal accounts for users, and company accounts for brands and businesses. Of course, personal accounts are only available to individuals, but the good news is that you don’t have to be a Chinese national to sign up and use the service.
For businesses, on the other hand, creating a corporate Weibo account will allow you to sell your products and services, use the platform for organic and paid marketing campaigns, collect feedback from users and customers, and get analytics and reports on content.
Companies can also apply to have their accounts verified, like on Facebook and Twitter, which increases trust. Orange verification badges are given to individuals, red to media outlets, and blue budgets to companies. You’ll be asked to pay a fee of between 500元 (£55) and 9,800元 (£1,100) to be verified, with prices depending on the size and nature of your business.
Verification lets you add a custom background and header image to your profile, a slideshow on your company page and allow users to check in to your location. Advanced verification also includes VIP customer support and a customised mobile homepage for larger businesses.
Big companies on Weibo
When you sign up for an account on Weibo, you won’t be alone. Western brands including Hilton, Unilever and Coca-Cola have a presence on Weibo, all seeing the platform as an effective marketing tool to establish and expand their Chinese presence.
Coca-Cola’s account, for example, has more than 400,000 followers, with the company posting regular content to its channel including videos with local celebrities and social influencers. Their profile is complete with a header and background image, which emphasise the Coke brand. And, just like Twitter, Coca-Cola follows others, including its other brands, like Sprite and Fanta.
As a UK-based business looking to grow your presence online, you should take inspiration from Western brands such as Coca-Cola to create your own content strategy. Indeed, you can see from this example that the same social media trends from the Western world apply in China; video is huge, influencers increase audience size, and memes, emoji and filters boost engagement.
Weibo hasn’t had the easiest time of it over the past couple of years. In fact, the social network dropped to just 60 million active users back in 2014, but thanks to marketing campaigns and an increase in influencers and brands creating relevant, engaging content, it’s staged a comeback.
Weibo overtook Twitter in 2017 and is now one of China’s biggest digital brands, so investing in the platform and creating content that will appeal to its rapidly-growing user base makes sense.
If you need help signing up for an account or would like assistance in creating content for Chinese consumers, trust Zudu China. Our digital marketing services help UK-based brands tap into the lucrative Chinese market, helping you reach 1.4 billion potential customers. Click here to send us an email, or call our marketing experts today on +44 (0)1382 690 080.