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Chinese Social Media Basics: Weibo and Twitter comparison

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Chinese Social Media: Weibo and Twitter comparison

Chinese Social Media Basics: Weibo and Twitter comparison

Weibo is almost a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook, as it includes some features of each of these applications. A few years ago, the media named the Weibo social media platform the Twitter of China. Indeed, Weibo is in use by well over 30% of Chinese Internet users, and its market penetration is similar to Twitter’s.


Obviously, Weibo and Twitter have a lot in common. Both of these platforms are in fact two microblogging miracles of the modern world. They both revolutionized social networks – Twitter worldwide and Weibo in China. They allow their users to connect to their networks through concise messages that are limited to 140 characters.


Chinese Social Media: Weibo and Twitter comparison

Source: tulaneict4d


Weibo and Twitter are both platforms for interaction that can prove very useful for companies of any size. For example, users of both applications can find and follow customers, as well as people in their industry and professional organizations.


One might say that the only limitation is brevity. Yet, there is a special charm of eloquence for entrepreneurs and corporate executives using Weibo and/or Twitter for business. Often, stories are far better in value if you keep them short and “to the point”. The brevity of Twitter and Weibo messages allows you to hit home and articulate the most important things that have a lasting impression on consumers.


Twitter is blocked by China’s Great Firewall. So, most of the mainland can’t use it.


There are people and businesses that had been dedicated Twitter users but eventually converted to Sina Weibo. Why did they choose Weibo over Twitter?


1. Twitter’s interface remains less media-rich than Weibo’s.


One of the main differences is Weibo’s wonderful and media-rich format. The user experience is enhanced through videos, animated emoticons, and music. This format makes Weibo similar to Facebook, as well as to photo-sharing sites such as Instagram. There are more than 400 emoticons on the platform to use, which is especially appealing for youngsters. Just look at all these amazing emoticons!


Weibo social media

Source: hongkiat


For the convenience of all users, the Weibo social media introduced the video feature that allows watching videos without leaving the website. Yet, the user can do this only if they input the link from supported video sites such as Youku, Tudou, and so on.


In Weibo, users can insert polls without any plugin required. They can put in the description and options, and then decide whether others can choose single or multiple options. Moreover, users can set the visibility of the poll. The benefit for business is such that conducting polls allows them to better comprehend the target audience.


Twitter offers a more formal style of interaction for users. In 2010, the company began to roll out the “New Twitter experience” that was an entirely revamped edition of the original twitter.com. Twitter allows incorporating media and video into its content. The company also made it easy to leverage videos in order to better interact with an audience. But, Twitter’s interface is still less media-rich than Weibo’s.


Businesses and brands should take advantage of Weibo’s media rich functionalities and drive engagement on the Weibo social media.


2. There are threaded comments on Weibo social media, but not on Twitter.


Weibo is focusing on simplifying the process of getting a user feedback. That’s why the company created its marvellous threaded comment. This function is really making the entire feedback tracking process a lot easier.


Threaded comments are an invaluable tool for you and your business. Getting feedback by means of reading these comments can be used not only to improve your product or service on offer but also to improve advertising tactics and strategies. Customer feedback is of paramount importance when analyzing the needs and tastes of your customers, particularly if your company launches new products.


How do threaded comments on Weibo look like? Have a look at the picture given below.


Weibo social media

Source: hongkiat


On top of that, using the Weibo social media, people can insert images, videos, and web pages in comments. They can do almost the same on the Weibo social media platform as they do on Facebook.


There are no threaded comments on Twitter. You have to browse the @mentions to see how users commented on your tweets. It is inconvenient if you want to quickly learn what the audience thinks of your products or service or of the messages and content you post. The whole inconvenience is magnified by the fact that commenting tweets are mixed with more commenting tweets with different topics.


On Weibo, one can see comments which users properly sorted out under a tweet by just one click. Having scanned through the comment thread of your tweet, you can add your own comment. You can also mention your @username in your comment, seizing the opportunity to remind the audience about your company and brand. In this way, Weibo assists corporates in increasing the level of brand awareness.


3. Users can benefit from Micro Topics on Weibo, but not on Twitter.


Weibo became a pioneer among microblogging applications in the presentation of the concept of Micro Topics to its users. This concept seems difficult, but in reality, it is simple. The application identifies all tweets related to a certain topic and then garners them on the created page for all users so that they can swiftly find and discuss this topic.


Sina Weibo’s own official account contained a series of “Taking pictures” events about the company’s new domain name. It happened after the company had stopped using the old domain t.sina.com.cn in order to give more individuality to their professional image. To accomplish this, Sina Weibo started using a new domain – weibo.com.


The topic “Taking pictures” became incredibly popular on the Weibo social media, which lasted for a long time and had the most prominent influence. The application created a special page dedicated to this topic. All those interested in the topic could visit this page and partake in discussions. Isn’t it awesome for users? Of course, it is!


Weibo social media

Source: punapr


How can your business use Micro Topics? The main reason for having a Weibo corporate account is to create and/or increase the brand awareness of your company in China. Micro Topics is especially useful in spreading knowledge about themes related to your company’s business and news of your new products and/or services.


Micro Topics is very user-friendly. There is a tweet box with tags which allows you to share the topic on your own profile. You can also promote it to your immediate social circle by pushing the link on the top of the topic’s page. Posting killer Micro Topics can become one of the best strategies to build brand awareness and make yourself known on Weibo for millions of Chinese consumers.


4. Trends Categorization


Weibo has a special page for the hottest trends on the platform – the Board of Fame. In contrast to its Chinese counterpart, Twitter doesn’t have it, and users have to suffer a few headaches before learning about the hottest trends.


Weibo social media Board of Fame

Source: pequodrivista


This glorious feature can bring you the ultimate victory over your competitors if the content you post turns out to be the hottest trend of last hour, today, or this week. Users always visit Weibo’s Board of Fame, because they are very interested in the sensational trends. It is very easy to track back by setting a specific date or timeframe for the search.


The network sorts the hottest trends by several categories: sport, entertainment, finance, gaming, travelling, and so on. You can find all the necessary information on the same page. For example, in 2016, the release of the Forbes Billionaires List caused Weibo to talk about the world’s youngest billionaires. The Forbes list revealed that there are quite many young Chinese billionaires. For example, after his budget airline tripled in value in 2015, Wang Han became one of the world’s youngest billionaires at the age of 28.


If you want to continue your tour among the hottest trends in other categories, it is easily achievable. In the Board of Fame, you can view more trends if you click on the ‘Check Out More’ link from the respective category.


Summary of the differences


There are many things that Twitter needs to learn from Weibo. The main differences between Weibo and Twitter are reflected below:


Weibo social media

Source: medium


Weibo’s success is contingent upon its user growth. According to Quartz, the number of average daily active users jumped 30% in December 2016 compared to 139mn in December 2015. Weibo has been showing a robust and consecutive growth of its user base since 2014, while Twitter’s growth has been flattening out. Therefore, we predict that Weibo will soon surpass Twitter in the number of active users.




The comparison of Weibo and Twitter suggests pretty good and strong prospects for the Chinese Twitter in the long haul. We expect that very soon, maybe even next year, the Weibo social media platform will outpace its Western competitor. In particular, Weibo’s user base is very likely to exceed Twitter’s in 2017. It is noteworthy to mention that Weibo has been also crushing Twitter in terms of total revenue and profit growth.


Now, you know a lot about Weibo and Twitter comparison. Chinese social media is starting to dominate the business sector, helping companies to target new trends and to increase consumer appreciation of their brands. Therefore, if you want to do business in China, then find a professional Chinese marketing agency that will help you establish your brand on Weibo and choose the right marketing strategies.

Dragon Social is a great choice for companies who want to move into the Chinese market. We focus on several different platforms that will allow you to enter seamlessly into the Chinese market.

While some companies prefer to keep their marketing in-house, others understand that outsourcing to an agency allows you to save time and money. Here at Dragon Social, we can create customised social media plans that will push your product forward. We also have different all-in-one packages on different platforms. If you would like to know more, visit our packages page!

Olga Lyakina

Olga Lyakina has degrees in finance and general management from London Business School. She worked in investment banking and management for several years before she decided to make a career shift to digital marketing, communications, and PR.

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