Sina Weibo marketing Guide, everything you need to know

Sina Weibo Marketing Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Last Updated on May 10, 2024

Sina Weibo was once heralded as the only social media platform in Mainland China, but the rise of WeChat and Toutiao ultimately overshadowed its past glory within the local digital landscape.

Nevertheless, despite the arrival of these popular social media platforms, Weibo remains one of the most extensive tools for launching advertising and marketing campaigns. With a massive population of 599 million monthly active users, foreign companies can utilize it to increase brand awareness and gain valuable insights into the Chinese market.

In this Sina Weibo marketing guide, we’ll discuss what makes this platform different from others and how to use its features to appeal to Chinese internet users.

 

What is Weibo used for?

Sina Corporation launched Weibo in August of 2009 and immediately gained the nickname “Chinese Twitter” because of its micro-blogging interface. Over the years, this Chinese social media platform has become the go-to source of the latest trends and entertainment.

On top of following famous celebrities or influencers, Weibo users also use the platform for relevant news consumption and consider it an avenue to speak freely about social issues. With a regular Weibo account, they can post up to 2,000 words or share multimedia content (pictures, videos, gifs, etc.).

 

Sina Weibo micro blogging social media China

 

Beyond its content creation features that allow brands to launch creative campaigns, verified accounts can customize their brand’s Weibo page according to the preferences of their target audience.

Having a Sina Weibo business account also means you can have more specific targeting options when launching advertising campaigns. You can also rely on its account management centre and data analytics tool to monitor marketing performance closely.

 

How do I sign up for Weibo?

To set up a Weibo account, remember not to use an email address or mobile phone number that has already been associated with any other existing account. Once that’s clear, you can choose to create an account under one of the three verification types:

  1. Individual
  2. WeMedia
  3. Official

Weibo brands' accounts

As a business entity with the intention to market in China, you’ll want your Weibo account to pass through the Official verification process. To do that, you must prepare the following documents:

  • Chinese Business License
  • An ICP (Internet Content Provider) registration from the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
  • Certificate for trademark registration.
  • Any other relevant supporting documents.

 

Alternatively, for businesses that are not registered in China, Weibo allows official account verification through its “Overseas Account Verification” section. Here are the requirements foreign companies must provide for a verified corporate account:

  • Your company’s registration documents, along with its certified Chinese translation.
  • Contact details for the account manager or your team.
  • Both an application letter and a third-party authorization letter.

Brands outside China that plan to authenticate their accounts by providing a Chinese business license on Weibo must also submit an authorization letter to align with the platform’s verification guidelines.

 

Through this letter, the foreign business will confirm granting permission to the Chinese entity to create a Weibo page featuring your brand name, logo, description, and other relevant company details. If this process seems daunting, we highly advise seeking guidance from a seasoned digital marketing agency within China to save time and money in the long run.

 

Official vs Personal Weibo Account: Which Is Better For Your Brand?

 

Source: Weibo Sign-Up Page

 

Although Sina Weibo boasts millions of monthly active users, it’s important to remember that Chinese consumers are cautious online shoppers. Local internet users are always wary and dodgy when it comes to fake accounts or suspicious product ads. Because of this, they’re more likely to engage with a Weibo post from verified accounts.

Using official accounts when posting on popular social media platforms helps build credibility for your company and can elevate brand awareness. When you gain visibility on Sina Weibo, it’ll shield your brand from possible copycats or troll attacks that can maliciously use your company name.

Furthermore, Weibo allows an official corporate account to access more features to optimize and create campaigns.

 

How do I promote on Weibo?

If you want to use Weibo for your ads and marketing campaigns, the first rule of thumb is to remember that it differs from other social media platforms in China. You can’t expect the strategies that work on WeChat or Douyin to have the same impact on Weibo users, especially given its unique demographics and features.

 

Here are some tips and tricks you can use to encourage users to engage with your content on Sina Weibo:

 

1.   Identify Your Target Audience

No matter how engaging your Weibo posts are, you won’t get your desired results if you’re targeting the wrong audience.

As you may already know, the Chinese social media landscape is highly segmented. It pays to conduct market research first to identify which audience group resonates with what your brand is offering and how your Chinese competitors are navigating the industry.

 

Age distribution of Weibo users in China 2022

Age distribution of Weibo users in China 2022 (Source: Statista)

 

Although Weibo is an old Chinese social media platform, it’s worth noting that almost 37% of its monthly active users are aged 22 and below.

If you intend to advertise to the platform’s young and active user base, you must ensure that your Weibo posts and campaigns are dynamic enough to generate user engagement among this age group.

 

2.   Localize Your Content For Weibo’s Users

Consumers in this Chinese social media landscape have distinct preferences and needs. If you want your campaigns to succeed on Sina Weibo, you must ensure that your branding and content are localized according to the local market’s purchasing behaviors and cultural nuances.

Although we’re talking about marketing within Sina Weibo’s interface, you can’t neglect the localization of your website.

Always remember that Chinese consumers are savvy shoppers. So, even if your social media marketing campaign reached the right audience, chances are they’ll rummage through the internet for relevant information about the brand. Beyond translated website content, foreign marketers should launch posts that specifically cater to the curiosity of local customers.

 

WeChat and Weibo posts for JLL

SDG’s work with Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL): Weibo Management

 

The branding of your official accounts and mass messaging should also align with what the Chinese market is looking for. If you’re unsure how to execute brand localization for your business, the best you can do is consult a local agency for your marketing management concerns.

 

3.   Build & Engage With Your Community

True to its nickname, “Chinese Twitter,”  Sina Weibo thrives in community or follower base engagement.  The platform’s micro-blogging format allows users to share and interact with topics and brands they care about.

As your potential customers, they expect the Weibo accounts they’re following to post content that is shareable, readable, and accompanied by clear messaging. An average online user only has an 8-second attention span, so trust us when we say you must make the most out of what you’re trying to market and advertise.

 

Ubisoft hungry shark

SDG’s work with Ubisoft: Hungry Shark Mobile Launch (Weibo Campaigns)

 

Active users on Sina Weibo are also proven to engage more in content with consistent posting schedules. Because of this, most brands on the platform push around two to four posts per day.

There’s no limit on how much one can post on Weibo. However, we suggest focusing on a niche market so that you can prevent overloading a single post with too much information. If you can, try geolocating the content to enhance its visibility and make it discoverable across different digital channels.

 

4.   Launch Influencer Campaigns

Weibo KOLs are an excellent option for marketing your business. They are less well-known than celebrities, but many have a substantial number of followers. On top of that, Chinese consumers still prefer recommendations from Key Opinion Leaders and fellow users over typical ads they see online.

Through a well-thought influencer marketing campaign, you can lead more followers to your brand with personalized, authentic content. The possibility for your business to gain awareness can be endless with the right marketing strategy and KOL.

Brands can create personalized content around Chinese holidays or festivals like Valentine’s Day, Women’s Day, or Singles’ Day.

 

Women's day creative designs for China

Example of designs for Women’s day

 

Taking advantage of these events and providing creative content for your users can significantly increase Chinese customers’ loyalty and familiarity with your brand.

 

Another effective KOL marketing campaign on Sina Weibo is conducting giveaways and rewards through influencer collaborations.

It’s a common way to build up your follower base and generate sales, especially if you are new to marketing on the platform. These types of campaigns usually encourage users to repost content for the chance to be entered in a lucky draw.

In the recent Statista data analysis, influencer campaigns by a micro-KOL on Sina Weibo can generate 200,000 impressions per post. While that statistic may seem enticing, marketers should note that not all KOLs have the same follower demographic or reach.

 

KOL collaboration on Weibo for Sennheiser gaming

Example of KOL collaboration on Weibo for Sennheiser Gaming

 

When hiring a KOL for your Chinese social media campaigns, always do your due diligence and research the level of influence of the said online personality. Selecting an official account that resonates with your target market and does not jeopardize your brand image is more crucial than you think.

Although KOL campaigns are not paid ads, the size of their follower base determines how much budget you need to allocate when working with them. Depending on your specific business needs, you can collaborate with Top-tier, Mid-tier, Micro, and Longtail Weibo KOLs.

 

5.   Use Weibo Paid Ads

When you decide to advertise on this platform, you’ll quickly realize that Weibo is closer in structure to Facebook than to its competitors. Some even argue it’s a superior advertising channel compared to WeChat due to the following characteristics:

  • Precise targeting enables your ads to capture the attention of more than 500 million daily active users.
  • It offers cost-effective solutions, boasting a lower minimum ad price than WeChat—making it ideal for A/B testing.
  • Weibo’s open network structure paves the way for enhanced exposure and innovative marketing strategies.

 

Types of Weibo Ads

 

Weibo marketing guide advertising formats

 

Like any other social media channel, Weibo allows users to choose what kind of format they want their ads to appear in. Here’s a quick run-down on the ad types marketers can utilize in the platform.

 

We suggest checking our step-by-step guide on Weibo ads for a more comprehensive deep dive.

  • Display Ads: This ad format is quite traditional, but it’s a proven effective method for advertising on Weibo. Besides that, these ads are optimized for mobile and web, proving its versatility across the platform.
  • Newsfeed Ads: Overly glaring ad displays tend to drive away some users. Fortunately, Weibo allows promotional content that blends naturally with organic content in the user’s news feed.
  • Fan Tunnel: Weibo’s Fan Tunnel promotes your post or account atop a user’s feed, targeting users by specific demographics, interests, or devices set by the advertisers.
  • Fan Headline: Like Fan Tunnel, this ad type targets your existing followers, amplifying posts for better visibility and engagement.
  • Fan Pass: This ad format can be managed through an account management platform. Although it’ll require you to submit a local ID and the approval takes a week, international businesses can join for a fee and extended waiting time.
  • Search Ads: You may not know, but Weibo has an integrated search function. Advertisers can bid on specific keywords related to their niche and get to appear on top of the platform’s search results.

 

6.   Integration with E-Commerce Platforms

Beyond its social media feature, Weibo also expanded its services to e-commerce. Through the Weibo Mini Shop, brands can promote their products and allow their consumers to purchase without leaving the platform.

This e-commerce feature allows corporate accounts to integrate product listings hosted on other platforms like Taobao and JD.com into Weibo.

 

Weibo mini shop

Example of a Weibo shop

 

Besides posting and managing products, this e-commerce service includes an inventory management system and produces statistical reports. Thanks to these features, marketers can have more insights on how to market their products more effectively within Weibo.

 

7.   Utilize Weibo’s Live-streaming Tools

There are around 750 live-streaming users in Mainland China. This volume alone speaks on how influential this feature is on the Chinese social media landscape. In Weibo, KOLs are known to use this function as a content catalyst to interact and connect on a deeper level with their subscribers.

 

Weibo marketing guide live streaming

Example of Weibo live streaming: gaming, product demonstration, live fashion show

 

The increasing preference for real-time content is closely associated with the changing needs of Gen Z consumers. The virtual economy from the past pandemic has made live-streaming one of the most important communication tools of today’s ever-changing digital era.

On top of its effectiveness in increasing sales, live-streaming also enhances the brand’s value and authenticity. Companies that choose to utilize this content format to market their products can build a certain level of familiarity and intimacy from their target audiences.

 

8.   Explore Social Search With Weibo

With its posts being indexed by Baidu, Weibo is one of China’s few social media platforms that currently offers search engine optimization. It even has a “Discover” page that users can use to find the latest updates and topics on the platform.

 

Weibo search function

Example of Weibo’s search function

 

Weibo’s search function gives users the power to perform advanced searches by typing in keywords to filter through related posts, pages, and accounts. As previously stated, advertisers can bid on these industry-related keywords or terms to boost brand visibility.

Maximizing Weibo’s social search function means that you must create a solid content marketing strategy and conduct thorough keyword research. By doing so, your content can have more chances to rank higher on the platform’s organic search results and will attract desired traffic.

 

How much does Weibo marketing cost?

Creating a personal account and posting content on Weibo does not cost a thing. However, if you want access to other platform tools like advanced ad targeting options, you may need to go through the verification process we discussed earlier.

 

Weibo brand account verification badge

Weibo brand account verification badge

 

For foreign companies with a local business license, the process takes 5-7 working days and costs around US $ 43 a year. For overseas companies new to China, the verification takes about 10-15 working days and includes a one-time fee of US $ 1,000.

These expenses exclude any advertising-related campaigns as these options come with different formats and features based on your business needs.

 

Benefits of Launching Effective Weibo Marketing Strategies

Improve Customer Service

Weibo’s micro-blogging format gives brands a chance to interact directly with their target audience, allowing them to facilitate real-time feedback about anything related to the business. The ability to answer queries makes it easier for marketers to foster community and personal connection among their subscribers.

In case of PR issues or crises, brands can use Weibo to quickly communicate with their audience, clarify situations, and manage their reputation.

 

Access to Diverse Content Formats

From posting blog posts and videos to launching ads and live-streaming sessions, Weibo is not restricted to a singular content format. The varied options allow brands to experiment with dynamic marketing campaigns and find the one that suits their business needs ideally.

With the right marketing strategy, Weibo can significantly boost a brand’s visibility and recognition among Chinese consumers.

 

Cost-Effective Marketing

Compared to traditional media, Weibo can offer a more cost-effective way of reaching a massive audience, especially when posts go viral.

On top of marketing functions, another feature that makes Weibo worth the investment is its data analysis tools. The platform provides comprehensive analytics, allowing brands to monitor campaign performance and user engagement. Marketers can adjust strategies in real time through the provided data to ensure maximum effectiveness.

 

Quick Q&A

How do you go viral on Weibo?

You can go viral on Weibo by creating content that resonates with a targeted audience. It has to align with current trends or hot topics and encourage user engagement and sharing. Collaborating with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and utilizing trending hashtags are effective methods to amplify a post’s visibility and potential virality.

Why is Weibo so popular?

Weibo is popular in the Chinese market mainly because of its unique blend of microblogging, multimedia sharing, and social networking features. The ability to get real-time updates, engage with celebrities, discover trends, and discuss diverse topics in one platform makes it specifically tailored to China’s digital culture.

Does Weibo use hashtags?

Yes, Weibo uses hashtags like Twitter. They play a crucial role in content discovery, categorization, and launching or following trending topics on the platform.

What is the demographic of Weibo users?

The demographic of Weibo users varies across different age groups, but its dominating market is definitely the younger generation. Recent statistics also suggest that the majority of the platform users are under 30. On top of that, a massive chunk of its user base is urban residents, students, professionals, and the emerging middle class.

 

Your Trusted Weibo Marketing Partner in the Chinese Market!

Launching an effective Weibo marketing campaign can give your business a streamlined opportunity to penetrate the world’s largest e-commerce market. While all the features and strategies we mentioned may seem enticing to try, you must remember that each of them requires a deep understanding of the Chinese market and its cultural nuances.

Don’t let these complexities hinder your brand’s success on Weibo! At Sekkei Digital Group, we understand the subtleties inherent to the Chinese market – including consumer behaviors and the ever-evolving trends that shape it.

 

Sekkei Digital Group Services

 

With our extensive expertise in this niche, we offer you the avenue to unlock your brand’s potential and secure a formidable position as a leading entity in the industry.

If you want to get deeper insights into marketing on Weibo or you have any questions on how to set up your brand’s Weibo verified, don’t hesitate to contact us today! Whether it’s crafting compelling advertising campaigns, utilizing live-streaming tools, or collaborating with relevant KOLs, we have all the digital solutions you need.

 

contact us SDG

 

References:

Introduction to Weibo Marketing for Brands
Weibo Marketing: Everything You Need to Know
How to Use Weibo for China Marketing (2021)

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