If you live in China or visit from time to time, you have probably already heard of Sina Weibo. It is one of the biggest tools for digital social networking, interaction and entertainment, and is one of the main players in digital marketing. Hosting more than 521 million monthly active users, Sina Weibo is celebrating it’s 12th years this year (2021). Some say the development was inspired by Twitter, but today it is more like a Chinese Facebook, featuring personal wall, photo and video sharing.
What is the Userbase Demographics of Weibo?
In 2020, Weibo saw 521 million monthly active users and 230 daily active users, a number that ranks it just above Twitter, its oft-cited counterpart.
Launched in 2009, Weibo is one of China’s older internet platforms that has stayed relevant and successful into the present day. As a result, older millennials, who came of age as Weibo started growing, make up the largest proportion of users on the site, with 48% of users being between the ages of 30 and 39. The under 30 age group comprises 30% of users. In terms of gender, the userbase is overwhelmingly female, with men only making up 18.3% of the userbase.
What Industries are Most Suited for Weibo?
Weibo is a platform Chinese facing B2C companies of any size and should consider having a presence on. As the average Weibo user is an educated mid-career woman in her early thirties from a first or second-tier city, the 10 biggest industries using Weibo are beauty, healthcare, fashion, tourism, retail, art, design, education, sport, and food and beverage.
Who posts on Weibo?
Even celebrities post on Weibo, as social networking becomes a way of getting income. Many brands have benefited greatly from highly influential celebrities mentioning products in their posts. Here is the list of the most-followed people on Weibo:
The top 10 most-followed people on Weibo
- Xie Na 谢娜 – Over 130 million followers
- He Jiong 何炅 – Over 120 million followers
- Yang Mi 杨幂 – Over 110 million followers
- Angelababy 杨颖 – 103 million followers
- Chen Kun 陈坤 – 94 million followers
- Zhao Liying 赵丽颖 – 89 million followers
- Jackson Yee 易烊千玺 – 88 million followers
- Vicki Zhao 赵薇 – 85 million followers
- Yao Chen 姚晨 – 84 million followers
- Deng Chao 邓超 – 82 million followers
So, why not get started with your own page? Here is how you can register an official account, post and analyse your performance on Weibo. It’s a lot simpler than you may think, and all the steps are detailed clearly below in our step-by-step guide.
How to Register a Corporate Account on Weibo in 2021
What’s the difference between a corporate and personal account?
A corporate account on Weibo will have a badge indicating its status as an official account of a corporate entity verified by Weibo. Privileges given to corporate accounts that are not available to personal accounts include professional features such as fan service, event center, data center, and ad center. Other benefits include a personalized page display, data analysis tools, and CRM tools.
Step 1: Getting Started
Go to the Weibo signup page and choose “Official Registration” to fill out the requested information.
Step 2: Send Account Activation Link
Choose your country code and enter your phone number, then fill in the activation code sent to your phone.
Step 3: Activate Your Account
Activate your account via email. Click on the “Check Mail Now” button to be taken to your email account. Click the activation link Weibo has sent to the email address to fully activate your account.
Step 4: Fill Out Your Account Profile
Now that your account is fully activated, you’ll be able to fill in your account profile. The more complete your information is, the easier it is to attract followers to your account.
Step 5: Verify Your Corporate Account
After activating your account and updating your profile, you are now able to begin the verification process for your corporate account. Depending on your organization, you will have to choose from one of three options:
5.1: Registering as an Overseas Company without a Chinese License
10-21 working days
5000 RMB for intermediate version
9800 RMB for advanced version
The Company Registration Documents with a certified Chinese translation
An Authorization Letter for maintaining the Weibo account to operation person or third party.
The document should be with Company’s seal or legal person’s signature.
Operation person or team contact information.
After organizing all the documents, send them in an attachment via email to the official Weibo email address corresponding to your company’s country of incorporation listed here: http://company.verified.weibo.com/verify/oversea.
For overseas companies, registering an official corporate account on Weibo without a Chinese license can be difficult, especially with the majority of the process being in Chinese and requiring certified translations. As a certified Chinese translation agency, HI-COM also has ample experience in Weibo registration and operation. We can help speed up your Weibo corporate account registration process, translate and notarize required documents, and ensure successful verification for your Weibo corporate account.
5.2 Registering as a Company with a Chinese Business License
For companies operating in China with a Chinese business license, the verification process is much faster and more straightforward.
Up to 5 working days
300 RMB for basic version
5000 RMB for intermediate version
9800 RMB for advanced version
- -Business license
- -Authentication application letter (with official business seal) (downloadable on Weibo)
- -Trademark Registration Certificate
5.3 Registering as a Brand with a Trademark Registered in China
If you have your trademark registered in China, you may open a Weibo account through your official dealer/agent, which costs 300 RMB per year.
Up to 7 working days.
- -Certificate of the dealership (to prove the legality of your dealer’s or distributor’s operations with your products in China)
- -Chinese business license of your dealer or distributor
How to Get a VIP Account on Weibo
After successfully registering as an official corporate account, you have the option of upgrading to a VIP account. While not a mandatory step, upgrading to a VIP account provides a variety of benefits:
- Being allowed to edit posts after publication.
- Gaining the ability to pin a post to the top of the account profile.
- Ability to customize the account cover image and layout.
- Access to a dedicated service team.
- Receiving a golden crown badge next to your account name.
How to Post on Weibo
As a microblogging platform, Weibo’s posting functionality operates much like Twitter, with a few minor differences. There are a few different ways to get started posting:
Posting on Weibo from Desktop:
Scrolling to the top of your account’s feed, you will see a box for creating a post. As you write in the compose box, the top right corner will display the number of characters you have written. While there is a 2000-character limit, posts longer than 140 characters will be truncated in the feed and only visible in full when users click the 展开or “full text” button.
At the bottom of the post box, there are functions to include a variety of other media, including 表情emoticons, 图片pictures, 视频video, 提到某人tagging, 话题hashtags, 头条文章articles, and 电影点评movie reviews. Clicking on the meatballs menu icon provides further options such as 直播livestream, 地点location, 问答questionnaire, 新鲜事fresh topics, and 微评short reviews. The hashtag tagging functions can also be accessed by typing in the @ and # symbol respectively.
Before publishing, you can set a 时间发 post scheduler to post at a scheduled time. You can also set your post’s visibility options.
The default is for 公开 public release, but you have the option of setting your post to be visible to fans, friends, groups, or only yourself. After your post is complete click the orange 发布 publish button to send out your post.
Another way to post from the desktop is to click the compose icon on the top right of your Weibo page. This opens up a simplified version of the post box from method 1.
While the emoticon, photo, video, and hashtag icons are present, the article function as well as the meatballs menu and its associated functions are absent.
Posting from Weibo Mobile App:
For foreign companies, the advantage of posting from mobile is that the app language can be set to English following the system language of your phone. To post, click on the orange + button and choose the type of post you want to create. Here you have the option of text, photo, video, review, or livestream. To add hashtags, just type in the # symbol for a list of the top hashtags or continue typing to create your own. And just like for desktop, tag other accounts with the @ symbol.
About Hashtags on Weibo:
When inserting hashtags, either by typing the # symbol (desktop and mobile) or clicking on the hashtag icon (desktop only), you will first see a selection of trending hashtags. Hashtags are sorted by category, such as food, fashion, pets, etc. The first tab shows the most recently used hashtags, the second tab shows trending hashtags, and the following tabs are various categories. Hashtags change every week, so these have been left untranslated.
Some of the Best Marketing Practices on Weibo in 2021
KOL Marketing on Weibo
KOL marketing, or key opinion leader marketing, has become the new norm in digital marketing on Chinese social media platforms in the last few years. Weibo is no exception.
By partnering with a KOL to market the brand, brands are able to carry out more organic and engaging marketing campaigns. Finding a KOL with authority and influence over particular demographics allows brands to effectively leverage the KOL’s personal brand to engage target audiences. As one of the most effective digital marketing tools in a brand’s marketing arsenal in China, KOL marketing can complement other tools such as CRM marketing in developing an effective digital marketing strategy.
With the success of KOL marketing, the last few years have also seen an explosion in MCNs, or multi-channel networks, which are essentially KOL agencies. MCNs offer pre-screened KOLs with authentic followers and provide KOLs with the resources to further grow their reach. In 2021, working with a KOL usually requires going through an MCN.
However, if you have no time to read articles, here is the list of most followed KOLs on Weibo in different industries in 2021:
How can you find more good KOLs for your industry? Check our articles out!
Content Planning and Creation
Just like on any other social media platform, an effective digital marketing strategy on Weibo relies on quality and well-timed content.
While Weibo’s post character limit is quite high, its userbase is more receptive to shorter descriptive content (200 words max). Typically, posts with images, infographics, and videos are more popular. Avoid posts with longer written content as it’s just not suitable for the platform. Content such as full-length blogs and articles can be attached as a link, with posts serving to briefly describe highlighted content.
Depending on the type of company you run and the brand image you’re pursuing, the frequency of posts can vary. However, we recommend posting no less than twice a week to keep followers engaged. The Weibo algorithm will favour accounts that post more often.
Public Traffic Pools
Weibo is one of the leading social media platforms in China. Since the start of 2020, Weibo has been used by more than 50% of China’s internet population with over 550 million monthly active users. The Chinese platform connects users based on their focus and interests as opposed to relationships e.g. friends, colleagues and family.
Therefore all users on Weibo connect with each other without strong, pre-existing relationships, which makes Weibo the largest social media platform of its kind with the highest volume of public traffic and resources.
Weibo helps brands and KOLs improve brand awareness and helps to create a high exposure rate allowing every message to be viewed in seconds.
Target Vertical Markets from a Wider User Base
Weibo categorizes content generated by its users into all types of industries, celebrities and interests. Today, there are over 780 thousand authors, 28 thousand celebrities, 3 thousand MCN brands, 500 TV shows, and 64 vertical fields on Weibo.
The age of Weibo users typically ranges from 19-35. It has established as the key newsfeed hub for Chinese to search and view information about the hottest news, government updates, entertainment and fashion trends. The platform supports content creators and helps them to become KOLs in their specific field and helps brands identify themselves as industry leaders.
Collect market and consumer insights
Benefitting from its rule of unlimited posts, Weibo is a big database filled with customer behaviors and interests and it delivers annual market reports for various industries. Brands with Weibo accounts will be able to understand the market and their customers more in depth and create a more successful marketing strategy with the insights provided by Weibo.
Connect Weibo with social e-commerce platforms: Weibo Mini-Store (微博小店）
Weibo has launched a tool called Weibo mini-store, which allows users to upload products, manage inventories, and process all transactions on their page. The mini-store adds a whole new function to Weibo, making it both a social media and an e-commerce platform. Apart from being an e-commerce platform, Weibo’s live-streaming function is now integrated with multiple major B2C marketplaces in China, for example with online platform Taobao.
The live-streaming content created on Taobao can be synced with Weibo to generate higher exposure rates. This feature has enabled Key Opinion Customers (KOCs) to support brands and convert their Weibo followers into customers via “shopable” posts. The word-of-mouth marketing strategy, applied in private-traffic-based platforms e.g. Wechat, can also be applied on Weibo to support brands wanting to maximize the impact of an advertising campaign.
Advertising on Weibo
For brands just starting out on Weibo, paid ads can be a way to begin growing a following for strong organic reach down the road. With Weibo’s CRM system, advertisers can easily choose specific demographics to target through analytics. Weibo paid ads come in a few different types: splash page ads, in-feed ads, fan headlines, fan tunnels, and search engine ads.
- Splash page ads are ads that show up on the mobile app when users first open the app.
- In-feed ads or display ads show up as sponsored posts within a user’s feed.
- Fan headlines are ads that show up on the top of targeted user’s feeds for 24 hours.
- Fan tunnels are like fan headlines except they target the entire Weibo community.
- Search engine ads operate much like Google ads, appearing when users search for the relevant keywords or hashtags.
Weibo currently charges for paid ads through two billing rates, CPM and CPE.
CRM and CPE Advertisement Rates on Weibo
CPM or cost per mille is when the platform charges per thousand exposures. The billing is based on how many thousand exposures an ad receives and does not take into account its effectiveness. The CPM price on Weibo is 5 RMB, meaning if 1000 people see the ad placement on Weibo, you will be charged 5 RMB, regardless of engagement.
CPE or cost per engagement is when the platform charges only when customers engage with the ad. This way, you only pay for an ad if it has been effective in getting Weibo users to click on, share, like, or comment on your post. The minimum price for each engagement on Weibo is 0.5 RMB, with each effective engagement on ad placements incurring corresponding fees. For example, if out of 1000 ad placements, your ad receives 50 engagements, you pay Weibo 25 RMB.
About English Search on Weibo
Weibo has probably the worst search engine ever created by anyone! If you are not searching for a specific hashtag, you most likely will never find what you were looking for! Weibo is trying to constantly update the algorithm and separate the search from user names to pages and other search elements, but it still remains not as useful. The important thing to remember, people go to Weibo to check for the latest social updates and entertainment, but not for searching brands, campaigns and products. So when you do a Weibo English search for “Mac Lipstick”, the platform will present all the latest posts that include this reach enquiry, but might not include the brand’s page, or related campaigns.
And that’s understandable, if you would like to search for products in English or Chinese, check RED/Little Red book app, China’s cross boarded e-commerce app.
One of the most popular yet not completely accurate Weibo related opinion in the western worlds is that Weibo is a copy of Facebook or Twitter. Even though it has starter as a very similar to Twitter platform, and went on to a more Facebook side, these days it is quite a different tool altogether.
Differences between Weibo and Facebook
Facebook is a social media platform based on closed-relationships such as families, co-workers, schoolmates and friends. Weibo however, is established on focuses, interests and open traffic.
Of of the fundamental differences between Facebook and Weibo is, Facebook is an online social networking platform with a social media function, whilst Weibo is a social media platform with interacting and messaging functions. This key difference means:
- Users can only view the activities of people that they are connected with as “friends” on Facebook, whilst on Weibo, users are able to view the activities of people they are not already connected with.
- Weibo is used as a newsfeed platform that allows users to search, view and collect key updates from governmental policies, entertainment, fashion and social events. This means that Weibo can provide key advertising products for brands whilst Facebook is more of a social networking platform keeping users updated on their friends’ activities.
- On Weibo, users may be drawn to a product or service as a result of a recommendation by a KOL. Whist the same marketing strategy can only be applied on Facebook when users are connected with the KOL, therefore brands have a better chance to become more visible on Weibo than on Facebook.
In comparison to Weibo, Facebook is a giant influencer.
It has over 2.6 billion monthly active users whilst Weibo has 521 million.
Both Facebook and Weibo have entered the e-commerce market, however there are some minor differences of how these two platforms operate:
- Facebook plans to cooperate with existing main stream B2C e-commerce platforms, e.g. Amazon and Walmart
- The live-stream feature currently present on Weibo (syncing with other platforms) is not yet available on Facebook
- Facebook allows its users to create co-live-streaming with other users, whilst Weibo doesn’t
- The advertising programs on Facebook provide larger flexibility for brands. For example, Facebook charges advertising fees based on performance, including CPC, CPA, CPM and OCPM. Whilst Weibo charges are based on scope, targeted users with specific interests, age, location or industry