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China is Tweeting Too: Weibo Marketing

W4 | W4 / April 20, 2018

Social media are very popular in China. However, both Facebook and Twitter have been censored since 2009. Hence businesses marketing their services in the middle kingdom have to turn to the many local platforms. Sina Weibo is one of China's most popular social media services.

Like Twitter, Sina Weibo is a microblogging service. There are several of them in China. The word Weibo literally means microblogging. “Weibo” hence not necessarily refers to Sina Weibo. Tencent, the company behind WeChat, also offers its own Weibo (Tencent Weibo). However, Sina's platform is the uncontested market leader with a share of more than 80%.

Microblogging in Marketing

Sina Weibo is clearly based on the western role model Twitter. The design is strikingly similar: the color blue dominates, in addition to a profile picture, users or companies can also use a large header image. Details on the profile and the followers can be found on the left side. In addition, user names are preceded by the @-symbol. Topics are sorted by the use of hashtags.

Due to the similarities, businesses may largely use Sina Weibo like Twitter: content discovery and distribution are both platforms' key elements. In addition, users can interact with their followers by sharing and commenting on posts or by sending direct messages.

Despite the similarities, both businesses differ in terms of success: Sina Weibo's numbers are at least better than those of Twitter: In the first quarter of 2017, the service had 340 million monthly active users. In 2016, a profit of $ 100 million was generated. 85 per cent of revenue is attributable to advertising.

Before we turn to the various advertising options, let us briefly look at the differences to Twitter: Posts can contain up to 2,000 characters plus videos and images, which is much more extensive than the 140 characters Twitter allows.

Moreover, Sina Weibo has introduced a Stories feature, which it has adapted from Instagram (and Instagram has copied it from Snapchat). Users can share posts of up to 15 seconds in length that disappear automatically after 24 hours on Weibo Story (微 博 故事).

Advertising opportunities on Sina Weibo

Three advertising options are common: Sponsored Post, Tasks and Fensi Tong (粉丝 通).The Sponsored Posts feature works just like on Twitter. You simply select the "Promote" button next to a post and then choose whether you want it to be promoted to either potential followers or interest groups.

Weibo Tasks allows you to pay other Sina Weibo accounts for sharing your posts. Hence the benefit is that you can profit from the reach and the image of influential Sina Weibo users.

Fensi Tong is very similar to the Power Editor of the Facebook Business Manager and the most common advertising function. Individual posts, the account itself and app downloads can be advertised via Fensi Tong. The targeting is very precise and as good as that of Facebook: aspects such as demographic and geographic information as well as interests, devices or connection type can be combined for a highly specific targeting. The prices vary from campaign to campaign: users have the choice between Cost per Engagement (CPE) or Cost-Per-Mille (CPM). Depending on the quality of the campaign, a very high ROI can be achieved.

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Tags: China Marketing

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Sarah Wilhelm
Sarah Wilhelm
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