Social media is interlaced into nearly every aspect of life for people around the world. In China, WeChat and Weibo social media have become the backbone of everything for Chinese digital natives. The online life of Chinese people is a tapestry being woven each and every moment that they live and breathe.
Every moment, people search in search engines how to create an account on Weibo or WeChat, and just general information about Chinese social media.
To many foreign entrepreneurs and companies, choosing the right marketing strategy and applying it in China is a steep and complicated learning curve. Given the paramount importance of Chinese social media, you have to get acquainted with Weibo.
What is Weibo?
Weibo is a world famous Chinese social media platform that needs no introduction. In the Chinese language, the word ‘Weibo’ (微博) means ‘microblog’. It refers to mini-blogging services in China. That’s why the platform is called Weibo.
SINA Corporation developed this microblogging platform in 2009 and launched it in 2010. Alibaba acquired an 18% stake in Sina Weibo in 2013 with a $586 mn investment. Despite the strict censorship of media in China, Weibo quickly emerged as an obvious favorite among a wide range of the Chinese people living in the higher tier cities.
The Weibo social media platform received its nickname as it is similar to Twitter. The amazing fact is that Weibo surpassed its American competitor in the number of daily active users.
Most importantly, Weibo is a huge part of Sina’s success and a powerful channel in social media for individuals and businesses. Every Chinese person and everyone who has ever visited this country knows what the Weibo social media. Indeed, Weibo is genuinely a famed tool as it grew to be a significant part of corporate life in China.
Types of Weibo accounts
There are two types of accounts which users can create on Weibo social media:
- a personal account and
- a company account.
A personal account is only for individuals. Both Chinese people and foreigners can register on Weibo and use it.
If you are a business, a corporation, or an organization, you can establish your presence on Weibo as well through a corporate Weibo account. You need a corporate account on Weibo because it is an important part of your business and marketing strategy in China.
How to create an account on Weibo? Go to this page, fill in the form, and, finally, click on ‘Sign Up Now‘. If you are an individual, a pop-up will appear to verify your account via a mobile phone number based on the list of the available countries. Then, a new user will have to verify their account. The Weibo sign-up for businesses happens in a similar way.
Verification of an account
You have to fill in the company’s name, an introduction, and then insert links. Include your contact information and add an icon. Then, follow through a complicated and time-consuming process to register an overseas company on Weibo.
Once you created an account on Weibo and your businesses has been successfully registered, you will have to get your account verified. There are three scenarios of how a corporate account can be verified.
1. Verifying an account as a local company
If your business is a Chinese company, you will incur no expenses to get your account verified. You have to prepare the following documents for verification:
- The real information about the company: its official name and registered address as stated in the documents of incorporation, as well as its email address;
- All the information about the business license, such as the registration number of your business license, your company’s location address and its postcode, the set-up date of your company, and other relevant details;
- Scanned copies of the company’s business license and certificates.
Then, you need to go to the Weibo verifying website and just follow the instructions to finish registration of your official Weibo account. After you provide all the necessary information, it usually takes 5 days to go through the process of verification.
2. Verifying an account via a dealer/distributor
Your company can go with this option if your trademark is registered in China. You have to verify your Weibo account via your official dealer/distributor. In this case, you will not incur additional expenses, although some things depend on your dealer.
You have to prepare the following documents from your dealer’s side:
- Certificate of dealership to prove the legitimacy of your dealer’s or distributor’s operations with your products in China;
- Chinese business license of your dealer or distributor.
Then, you just need to follow all the steps of scenario 1. After your company submits all the documents from the list, you will have to wait for 7 days while the process of verification is being conducted by Sina Weibo.
3. 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. In addition, you will have to pay a fee that will be charged depending on your current country. On average, a foreign company will have to pay between US$800 and USD$1,100, sometimes a bit more.
The list of the necessary documents and information is presented below:
- All of the company’s registration documents and business licenses, together with their translations into Chinese;
- Application Letter and Third Party Authorization letter that should include the company’s seal and/or legal person’s signature;
- Purchase Order Form;
- Official website URL;
- Detailed introduction to the company’s products and/or services;
- Operation person or team contact information.
Once you have all of these documents collected and properly translated, you will need to send them to the company – to firstname.lastname@example.org. It usually takes 3 days to get your account verified. You will have to pay the fee for the verification of an overseas company when you submit all the documentation to Weibo.
Advantages of verification
The V-for-Verified logo on a Weibo blogger’s site indicates that the verification of a Weibo account was successful. This means that the individual is not an impostor. For your company, it means that it was registered properly and is real.
Here is the thing. In the days when fraud has evolved into a usual affair, verification has become a powerful way to gain trust. No doubt it also helps you enhance your credibility and, thus, reap the benefits that come with being seen and recognized. Furthermore, verification also ensures that your identity is well protected by the Weibo social media.
It would be an understatement to say that modern consumers, especially consumers who use the Chinese social media on a daily basis and often log into their accounts throughout the day, are not careful about fakes and knockoffs. They need to know that the brand or the company they are talking to is authentic.
Peculiarities of a Weibo account
After giving you a basic insight into what Weibo is, it is high time to focus on other peculiar features of the application.
The Verification badge is not the only peculiarity of your Weibo account. You can also have the VIP badge and the User Level badge. Look at Paris Hilton’s page below.
Weibo boasts of having several user levels, which is a gaming dynamic based on the activity of users. Every account displays the level next to the name. It shows the number of days the account owner has been using the platform and for how long. The more actively the user accesses Weibo, the faster they will reach the higher level.
In June 2012, the company launched a new special service that lets users have their profile upgraded to a VIP status for a fee. The functionality of their account is upgraded as well, and a little crown next to the username is displayed. There are VIP accounts on Weibo, and accounts of many celebrities have this status.
Who and why is on Weibo?
Knowing what Weibo is, you must be interested in learning who and why is on Weibo. The audience on Weibo social media is diverse and has different backgrounds. The goals of their presence on Weibo are very different as well.
The large and versatile audience on Weibo includes:
- Individuals who regularly use the Weibo social media for entertainment;
- Business professionals who are looking to make connections before starting to do business in China;
- Journalists who monitor Weibo every day, get ideas for their articles and reports, and who also use the platform for investigative reporting;
- Media outlets that need to obtain information on the platform and transmit it;
- Chinese and foreign celebrities who use Weibo to communicate to their fans;
- Social-media-savvy corporations and entrepreneurs that use Weibo to reach out to Chinese customers, analyze their target audience, and promote their brands;
- Government officials who speak both through official verified accounts and a number of personal accounts.
Many big foreign corporations created fan pages on the Weibo social media. Companies such as Unilever, Coca-Cola, Louis Vuitton, L’Oreal, Hilton Hotel, and Tourism Australia. All of them see Weibo as an effective tool to establish their presence in China, as well as in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia.
For example, L’Oreal has many followers on Weibo and regularly posts wonderful content, including captivating videos and lovely pictures. The company’s marketing specialists actively engage with a female audience. Marketers also influence female followers who spread news of the latest product launches and promotions.
The platform also helps L’Oreal learn who the influencers of competitors are and then apply it for its own commercial benefit. Look at the brand’s page on Weibo below.
Why did so many international companies register on the Weibo social media platform? Their goals are mostly customer-focused and business-driven:
- Developing a deep understanding of the Chinese people, as well as learning more about their lifestyles and preferences;
- Interacting with old and new customers online;
- Increasing brand recognition by using Weibo as one of the channels to syndicate their content and increase their visibility in the Chinese market;
- Making more consumers hear and comprehend your brand’s voice;
- Morphing consumers into being brand loyal;
- Seizing opportunities to convert users to customers by regularly posting and sharing interesting and unique content;
- Boosting their presence in China and attracting millions of new clients.
Many foreign companies and brands consider Weibo an integral part of their marketing strategy in China. Some overseas companies contact celebrities so that they represent their brand in China. For example, a few years ago, Tourism New Zealand signed up Yao Chen, a fabled and multi-award-winning Chinese actress, as their brand ambassador in mainland China.
Some useful functions
Corporate accounts can use multiple function pages and a management dashboard. In fact, this account provides them with more functions and features than the personal account. For example, one of such features is a personalized page display, which helps attract customers attention if the page does really look original and memorable.
Several years ago, Sina Weibo launched the analytical tool “Data”. There are more than 60 types of data to analyze the performance of a page in different dimensions. You can conduct the analysis on three levels: posts, fans, and followed accounts. Besides, this tool proved useful in helping businesses optimize their marketing strategy on the platform.
This analytical tool also allows you to see the total number of fans for the last 15 days. If someone unfollowed you on Weibo, it might not be reflected in the data, and, thus, the number displayed in the analytics can be more than the actual number of followers. This tool also shows gender ratio and geographic distribution of your followers.
There are also monitoring tools (Weibo’s statistics) and social CRM elements which can assist businesses in analyzing the performance of their accounts. When you start using the platform, you will uncover all the insights in your Weibo analytics.
Enterprise Weibo for companies
The high expanding speed of Sina Weibo’s user scale and the steady growth of corporate users made it necessary to provide entrepreneurs and corporates with new opportunities for communication on the platform. For this reason, Weibo developed the “Enterprise Weibo Page” exclusively for corporate users of the Weibo social media platform.
This application allows corporates to better leverage Weibo for business purposes. Enterprise Weibo helps companies:
- facilitate interactions between companies and their target audience;
- explore business opportunities and build meaningful contacts on Weibo;
- introduce their products and services to Chinese consumers;
- leverage the platform for marketing campaigns in an excellent way;
- easily collect customer feedback and respond to their questions;
- create experiences that enhance brand awareness and brand affinity.
In particular, the version of “Enterprise Weibo 2.0” is equipped with more advanced data analytic tools. Moreover, it enables to install other applications for brand building and promotion and for communication with your customers on Weibo.
Several years ago, the media proclaimed that Weibo had been dethroned by WeChat and other powerful competitors. But were they really right?
Notwithstanding their confidence that Weibo was on the way out, these skeptics were grievously mistaken. As a result, later the media backpedalled in the face of Sina Weibo’s continuously positive results.
In the past few years, Weibo has been making a confident comeback. As an illustration of the company’s success, one needs to look at the number of Weibo users that has been growing at a rapid pace. In February 2017, Weibo’s market capitalization exceeded Twitter’s, and its user numbers are currently almost on par with Twitter’s.
Every year, increasingly more Chinese people are flocking to social media, including Weibo. All things considered, we expect more foreign brands and corporations to join the Weibo social media platform in the future. If you have made up your mind to establish your presence in China, then you have to ensure that your company and brand are on Weibo. Of course, it is high time to find a marketing professional in China that can help you start. Check our our Weibo marketing package now!
Check our our Weibo marketing package now!