With over 600 million registered users and 100 million daily users, Weibo is one of China’s most popular social networks – and one that is essential for brands looking to reach Chinese consumers. However, to engage users and ultimately achieve Weibo success, it’s essential to understand both the Chinese social media landscape and how Chinese users utilise social media.
What is Weibo?
Weibo is a microblogging network often referred to as the “Chinese Twitter”, but in reality it’s a fusion of Facebook and Twitter.
Posts are public and limited to 140 characters, and users can also post videos, music and images. However, like Facebook, users can also comment on posts and play games with each another. Weibo also utilises gamification with a medal system to encourage users to spend more time online, and to interact with other users and brands.
How can brands drive engagement on Weibo?
On Weibo, it’s all about understanding the Chinese digital landscape, culture and the way users post and consume content on the platform. If you’re looking to engage with Chinese consumers on this social media giant, there are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Take advantage of rich media functionalities
While Twitter allows brands to share either videos or pictures in tweets, Weibo offers a rich media experience where posts can contain both videos and images. Brands such as Lancôme have used Weibo’s gallery format to produce creative image displays that garner thousands of likes, while Oreo drove engagement by creating a competition where parents could create emojis from their photos and share with friends and families.
At the very least, you can use Weibo’s rich media to complement your current content marketing efforts and share a variety of posts including videos, images, galleries and links. Also remember that Weibo users respond well to fun competitions and sharing mechanisms, so image-based competitions and Weibo apps can help your brand achieve cut-through.
2. Optimise your content for the platform
Weibo is a great place to share diverse media, however you need to tailor your social media efforts to the platform and Chinese users. Like any other social network, duplicating content is not the most effective solution and success on Weibo requires an understanding of what content resonates with Chinese consumers.
At a basic level, every post needs to be in Chinese to make it accessible to your target market. However, to achieve true engagement and grow your community, it helps to create campaigns dedicated to Chinese users – for example, using local brand ambassadors that are popular among your target market, creating apps or competitions for Chinese New Year, or using dedicated hashtags to compile your content in one place like Twitter.
3. It’s not just what you know, but who you know
Networking is crucial to success in the Chinese market, and on social networks it’s no different. Whether it’s selecting a prominent Chinese celebrity or influencer to be a brand ambassador, or utilising a foreign celebrity who has plenty of clout in China, this is a great way to rapidly build a presence on Weibo, increase engagement and establish trust in your brand.
4. Be authentic in your posts
While half of all Weibo users may click on popular ads, that doesn’t mean users respond well to pure advertisements. The brands that succeed on Weibo put content marketing first, providing Chinese consumers with entertaining blog posts, videos and images that generate interaction through comments or shares.
Keep your tone of voice light, friendly and accessible – as if you were talking to a friend – and keep the promotional posts to a minimum. Sharing other users’ posts and adding emojis to your copy could work wonders as well.