New to China and wondering how to get brand recognition? One of the fastest and most cost-efficient ways of building brand awareness in China, particularly for B2B companies, is to use SINA Weibo. The name Weibo means microblog in Chinese and the app is sometimes likened to a Chinese version of Twitter. But that comparison undermines one of its key attributes: from an online marketing perspective Weibo is more like Facebook. Weibo allows companies to post content to specific targeted audiences in China. It gives you a segmented audience base to grow page likes, create social buzz and to drive traffic to your website. This is the main reason why Chinese businesses are increasingly using Weibo for their online marketing and why savvy non-Chinese companies are joining in.
According to the company accounts, Weibo increased its monthly active user base by 30% last year to over 375 million, with about 154 million people use the site daily. And like most Chinese internet use, about 90% of Weibo users access it via their mobile phones. Weibo benefited from introducing a series of innovations, including Weibo Payment to facilitate ecommerce, (note Alibaba owns 31% of Weibo) as well as live streaming capabilities.
Like all good online marketing, effective use of Weibo means producing great content that your target Chinese audience wants to engage with. Weibo is an "open" platform in contrast to the leading social media Chinese platform WeChat. Being an open platform means that anyone can see Weibo posts as well as reactions (likes, re-posts, comments or messages), unlike WeChat where information is only shared with people the user is close to. But being an open platform also means that there is a looser connection with your target audience. The challenge therefore is to get the audience engagement and that is all about producing great content. To dive deeper in the subject, please check out our China webinar: How to Sell Online in China
Weibo has 4 ways companies can get their content in front of their targeted audiences:
Fan reach (FenSiTong): This is similar to Twitter's promotional tweets in that you can pay to promote the content to specific audiences, selected by age, gender, location, hobbies etc.
Mini tasks (Weirenwu): This is a very Chinese solution. It involves re-posting your content by key opinion leaders (KOL). Opinion leaders play a huge role in Chinese social media and there is a vast number of KOLs to choose from. Using Weibo's Weirenwu, you can control what and when the KOL re-posts your content. The cost reflects the digital following, or perceived influence of the KOL.
Fan headlines (Fensi Toutiao): Weibo users can see the promoted tweets on the very top of their timeline from the people or companies they have chosen to follow.
Super Brand Day: This is a package advertising deal for brands. People will see your ad poster the moment they open their Weibo app. You also get the exposure of becoming a hot trending hashtag under the explore section.
Being an open platform, Weibo allows companies to "push" content in front of targeted audiences, meaning companies that don't have brand recognition in China can get in front of potential prospects. Great content that the audience engages with is key, so you really have to know what your Chinese audience is concerned with, what is trending and who are they looking to as opinion leaders. In this way, Weibo forms an integral part of an online marketing strategy for companies looking to build their brand in China. Used in conjunction with the other major Chinese platforms, from WeChat to Toutiao, companies can reach and engage with China's vast market to grow their sales brands and businesses.