Launched in 2009, Sina Weibo is one of the popular social media and marketing platforms in China, with 600 million registered users, 446 million active users and a user presence across 190 countries.
It is usually known as the as the ‘Chinese Twitter’ and does resemble a mash-up between Twitter and Facebook in many ways. Weibo is a multimedia micro-blogging platform where users can upload their own posts, photos, videos, share content, follow other users’ accounts and be up to date with the latest news. Celebrities, brands, and key opinion leaders often leverage Weibo.
Most importantly, since Weibo is used by over 30% of internet users in China it can offer incredible opportunities for businesses to engage with potential customer audiences. Therefore, Weibo marketing is one of the recommended marketing activities in China.
Marketing on Weibo
In terms of marketing and advertising, thanks to its open and public nature, Weibo is good for brands and companies to increase brand awareness, grow popularity and gain followers in the initial stages. They can make full use of all the resources on Weibo to launch campaigns, invite KOLs for cooperation and display paid ads.
It has to be clear that in order to reach out to mainland consumers, establishing a prominent presence on Weibo is a must. So how can you use Weibo to market your products and services in China?
Here are 5 steps to help you get started on Weibo marketing:
Create an official verified account
There are two types of accounts on Weibo:
- Personal account: it is only for individuals. Both Chinese people and foreigners can register on Weibo and use it.
- Corporate account: it is for companies, businesses and organizations.
You can register an account on Weibo here nd input the following information: email (or mobile phone number), password, username, location and the verification code.
Once you created an account on Weibo and your businesses has been successfully registered, you will have to get your account verified.
Advantages of verification
In the days when fraud has evolved into a usual affair, verification has become a powerful way to gain trust. Verified official accounts for brands have a blue “V” displayed beside their profile picture, just like the blue verified badge on Twitter.
For companies, verifying their business has multiple benefits. First, a blue V icon will enhance credibility and improve the trustworthiness of the account. Weibo users know that verifying an account requires legal business documents submitted and reviewed. This step will help attract target audiences more easily as well as gain trust.
Second, a verified account can enjoy some privileges like more space for detailed brand information, advanced page customization settings and additional services like mass messaging and their own campaign management platform etc. Furthermore, Weibo will rank the relevant content of verified users higher.
Verification of an account
There are 3 ways to verify a corporate account:
- Verifying an account as a local company: for Chinese companies, the required materials include scanned copies of their Chinese Business Registration Certificate and a certified letter following a template that can be downloaded online. The verification process usually takes 5 days to go through the process of verification at a cost of 300 RMB.
- Verifying an account via a dealer/distributor: if your company has a trademark registered in China, you can verify your Weibo account via your official dealer/distributor. You have to provide all the information about the company and certificates as well the certificate of dealership and the Chinese business license of your dealer or distributor. Then you just need to submit all the documents online and wait 7 days for the verification. The cost is the same as for Chinese companies.
- Overseas verification: if your company is operating abroad and your trademark is not registered in China, you will have a few headaches along the way. For overseas companies, the required materials include the company registration documents with a certified Chinese translation, an application letter and a third-party authorization letter, a Purchase Order Form, an official website URL, team contact information and a detailed introduction to the company’s products and/or services. Once you have all of these documents collected and translated, you will need to send them. The verification process usually takes 10 to 15 working days at a cost of US$800 to USD$1,100 (the verification service fee may vary by country or region).
We would strongly suggest you to reach out to us to register and verify your Weibo corporate account. We can help you speeding up the formality process, as well as translating and notarizing your documents, and submitting the final verification for your Weibo account.
Create an engaging and solid content strategy
Weibo is an open social media platform mostly used for trend-spotting, entertainment and news. On Weibo users like to follow celebrities, famous bloggers and talk about the latest hot topics.
Since many brands are posting marketing-related material every day, it can be hard to create effective marketing content that attracts attention and conveys the right messages at the same time. Therefore, it’s essential to develop a solid content strategy that incorporates media rich content and powerful messages to deliver value to the viewer.
In terms of content format, multimedia content consumption on Weibo has seen sustainable growth, with the popularity of short videos, live streaming and Weibo Story, which are similar to the story function on Facebook and Instagram.
More and more brands now engage in producing creative short video ads and doing live streaming, inviting celebrities and KOLs to participate in their special events to arouse public resonance and get wider exposure.
The use of hashtags is also a good strategy to engage with the target audience. Just like Twitter and Instagram, when using a trending or popular hashtag on Weibo, a post will have a better chance of being seen since it belongs to a certain topic. It can be a useful way to earn fresh views and new followers. A slight difference is that hashtag on Weibo is signified by “# #” instead of one “#”.
Acquire initial followers
A large follower base is an essential prerequisite for those looking to increase their brand awareness on Weibo: the more followers a brand has, the more likely its Weibo content is to reach its potential customers. Therefore, growing followers is the primary goal for the Weibo marketing strategy of most brands.
There are different methods to increase Weibo follower base:
- Utilizing current databases: when you first create an account for your brand on Weibo, it is difficult for Weibo users to instantly find and follow your account because they probably don’t even know of its existence. Therefore, it is important to first start by recruiting pre-established connections.
- Adding Weibo icon to the social bar of your corporate website: it’s a good idea to add a Weibo icon to your company website’s social bar so that people who visit your website are likely to go to your Weibo homepage and follow your account, where they can receive regular updates or the latest information about your products or services.
- Adding Weibo QR code on your offline promotional materials: it is useful to add the QR code of your Weibo on all your promotional materials, including business cards, flyers, and posters. When you give out these materials, people who receive them will have a quick access to your Weibo homepage and they can know more about your brand or products.
- Launching giveaway campaigns and/or engaging KOL: you can also consider launching some giveaway campaigns and/or engaging KOLs to help you attract more potential customers and create a buzz on the platform.
Use key opinion leaders (KOLs)
Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) have powerful promotional impact. In China, KOLs have a strong influence on society and are powerful in affecting the buying behaviors of their social media followers. That’s why KOL marketing is a great way to promote your brand on Weibo.
KOLs can be involved in a variety of promotional activities, including product trials, promotional code distribution, short video creation, participation in offline events and live streaming. Their involvement helps brands spread the word and increase their exposure on the platform.
Roll out online campaigns and advertising campaigns
When you’ve accumulated a certain number of followers, you can aim at higher levels of Weibo marketing.
First, you can launch marketing campaigns on Weibo. The most popular ones include lucky draws and repost campaigns.
It’s free to launch online campaigns on Weibo. The budget mainly depends on the prizes the organizer has prepared for the winners. Marketing campaigns can help brands to increase exposure and raise awareness. They are also an effective way to encourage user interaction, to attract new followers, and they are good for word-of-mouth marketing.
Moreover, Weibo offers a range of different of advertising options, including display ads, search engine promotion, Fans Headline and landing page ads. You can choose a suitable one according to your specific needs and budget.
Display ads is the most common advertising option: it allows users to display advertisements on the landing page of the Weibo mobile app, or the search page of the website, as well as on Weibo home page.
With Weibo search engine promotion, users can click the suggested keywords shown in the search bar, and relevant accounts and Weibo posts will be displayed.
If you want a particular Weibo post to be seen by more people, you can promote it by using the Fan Headline function. The post you select will appear at the top of your existing followers or potential follower’s home page for 24 hours.
Similar to Fan Headline there is an advertising option known as Fan Tunnel. With “Fan Tunnel” you can promote a single post, app, or Weibo account and you can choose to target a wide audience or a niche group.
The open and public nature of Weibo ensures a high level of exposure for brands. To do marketing on the platform, brands need firstly to know and understand their target audience and secondly to build a strong relationship with their followers.
We can follow you step by step on this process, from the Weibo account registration and follower acquisition to the creation of a successful marketing strategy and unique advertising campaigns.
Furthermore, since Weibo is continually changing and improving with new features coming up all the time, we will help you incorporate them into your Weibo strategy and increase your brand awareness on the platform.
If you want to market in China, get started on Weibo with us now.