Stephy Liu
Mar 3, 2011

Five things you need to know about Chinese microblogging

Stephy Liu, senior client service manager and digital strategist at Eastwei MSL, shares the key differences between Chinese microblogging platforms like Weibo and Twitter, and what marketers need to know about effectively engaging with audiences.

Stephy Liu, senior client service manager and digital strategist at Eastwei MSL
Stephy Liu, senior client service manager and digital strategist at Eastwei MSL

1. Join the conversation. On Twitter, the replies and comments appear independently in the feed. However, on a Weibo, they are listed under the entry, like a traditional blog. Therefore, an entire discussion around a specific entry can be seen in one place. This provides an opportunity for a marketer to not only kick start a discussion, but to remain at the heart of the conversation.

2. V for verified. While Twitter recently launched so called 'verified accounts' for brands and celebrities, they are a prerequisite for marketing via Weibo. When verified, a 'v' will appear in the user’s Weibo entry, signaling that there are commercial interests behind it. For the marketer, the 'v' status has several advantages. It allows for integration of key visuals, constant update of the design, leveraging Weibo for optimal brand building as well as enabling adjustments to stay tuned into the everyday realities of the audience. For example, when your netizens are celebrating Spring Festival – so should Weibo.

3. Integration, integration, integration. In China, microblogs are connected to other platforms with  a huge number of users which allows for automatic exposure to a much bigger and wider audience. Marketers should be aware and take advantage of incorporation into other social media mediums. The connection to other, older platforms also guarantees acceptance from the government. For greater impact, sync your social media efforts to offline activities, your consumers move between a variety of online and offline communications so your brand should do the same.

4. A picture tells a thousand words. The weibo offers a more elegant solution when sharing pictures and videos. The visual attachments can easily be viewed without leaving the Weibo page, something that has proved very valuable for marketers. Research has also shown that a post including a picture is around 20 per cent more popular than text-only postings. Singapore Tourism Board employs this tactic and plays with visuals in their Weibo. For example, on 12 September, a date which in Chinese sounds like 'I love you', STB launched a Weibo campaign urging readers to say 'I love you' to their friends and family through a posted picture of the characters. By the end of 2010, this post had been forwarded over 7,000 times, connecting the Singapore brand to warm emotions, while at the same time engaging its target audience.

5. Knowledge is power. For navigation and search, Weibo's portal pages are more comprehensive than that of Twitter. There is a lot of information listed for marketers to use, such as how popular certain Weibos are or how to find Weibos that discuss specific topics. This makes both outreach, as well as measurement of one’s own microblogging performance, an easier task in China.

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