Weibo, Wechat, and Tencent are the most powerful digital tools marketers can use to engage their target audience in China.

Lisa Wang, Sina WeiboSavage connected with Lisa Wang, Deputy GM of Sina & Weibo International, who leads Sina & Weibo’s international business including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia.

Lisa specializes in corporate brand communication, public relations, and new media marketing. Her professional history includes marketing director, PR director, and senior marketing consultant for many well-known companies. Before joining the international department, Lisa was the founder of Sina Weibo Business School, which provides professional training for companies and organizations.

S: Why is Sina Weibo relevant to the Chinese consumer and how does it differ from other social platforms?

LW: Weibo is a leading and popular social media platform in China with 411 million monthly active users as of March 2018. The continuous growth of user engagements solidify Weibo as an essential platform in the social media industry.

Weibo is an open networking platform for people to create, share and discover content online. It combines the means of public self-expression in real time with a powerful platform for social interaction, content aggregation and content distribution. User relationships on Weibo may be asymmetric; any user can follow any other user and add comments to a feed while reposting. This simple, asymmetric and distributed nature of Weibo allows an original feed to become a live viral conversation stream.

Weibo is a big information hub which contains all sort of information in different formats, where real time news and hot topics are the key elements. Users treat Weibo as the first and quickest source of breaking news, they will share and comment, generate viral conversations and boost activeness. Weibo is also a window for Chinese people to understand and connect the world as many Western social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, YouTube are being blocked in China. Chinese users have access to many official Weibo accounts hosted by foreign companies, media, association and celebrities, in order to get in touch with the world.

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S: Data transparency is key for marketers, however China has just imposed new online regulations. What tips would you give B2C marketers from the EMEA trying to break into China?

LW: Weibo supports all kinds of activities on the platform by following Chinese laws. For example, the Cybersecurity Law related to information security imposed on 1st June 2017, is designed to make sure major internet operators such as Weibo take security responsibilities and apply stringent security requirements.

We publish up-to-date rules on our official website and Weibo official accounts, such as @Weibosecretary(@微博小秘书). Overseas agencies appointed by Weibo are also informed about the new rules and procedures.
The tips for marketers from the EMEA trying to break into China is to understand and check out the regulations relevant to their industry regularly. We highly recommend collaborating with Weibo’s official department or partners (agencies).

81.9% of Weibo users are between 18-30 years old

S: What is the penetration ratio or consumer engagement index Sina Weibo enjoys and the main characteristics of your users?

sina_weibo_imageLW: Weibo user demographics are very distinct. According to 2017 Weibo User Development Report, 81.9% of Weibo users are between 18-30 years old and 52.6% come from 3rd and 4th tier cities. 5% of users are from overseas. Among 1+ million monthly active users in UK and Europe.

There are three distinctive behaviors of Weibo users:
1. Share similar interests – Weibo users share similar interests on hot topics with each other, not necessarily with friends but their followers. Hot topics such as celebrities’ daily activities, discussing TV shows and TV series, hunting fashion trends, seeking and sharing food recipes etc. Over 18 vertical hot topics generate more than 10 billion monthly readerships.

2. Follow someone famous or become famous on Weibo – Weibo is an irreplaceable platform in China’s Internet Celebrity economy. Weibo offers opportunities for regular people to become an online celebrity. At the end of 2017, there are a total of 28,000 entertainment celebrities, 1.41 million bloggers, 70% of them have been using Weibo for over 7 years.

3. Real-time search – the active search volume on Weibo is 300 million per day in 2017. Weibo search is real-time, offers multiple viewpoints and is interactive. Personalized search results are based on interests. 69% Weibo search users are aged between 18-29 and 61% of them are female users.

S: How does KOL marketing at Sina Weibo work? What data can marketers expect to receive for every campaign run?

LW: Influencer marketing is the most popular and effective marketing strategy in China. Weibo is the most popular platform for advertisers to leverage influencers because we have more than 420,000 celebrities and influencers on the platform.

KOLs are categorized into 55 different vertical interests, of which 25 categories reached over 10 billion readerships per month. They have engaged 470 million followers per month and generated more than 30 billion revenues last year. The most popular categories are entertainment related such as artists, music, TV drama, followed by fashion and beauty, finance, travel, e-commerce, etc. Apart from the young and entertaining influencers, experts and academic advocates at different age who work in different areas (such as politics, finance, science, military) choose Weibo as their major content publishing platform. You can easily search them on ‘discover page’.

Weibo is an influencer-friendly platform. We not only provide diversified content formats for them to play with but also help them enhance their skills to capture followers as well as generate revenue through the platform by our ‘content- follower-user-monetization’ economy business model.

On the other hand, advertisers can make use of KOLs on Weibo to help them promote their products or campaigns. All campaigns run on the platform are highly data-driven which enable marketers to understand how their target audiences react to their campaigns. Apart from platform generated reports, marketers can request a comprehensive social listening report from our data centre if PR crisis happen.

Public viewable metrics are followers, comments, likes, impressions. Weibo account owners can generate data to analyze user engagement and improve content optimization. If the campaign is placed under Weibo’s Advertising Centre, advertisers can get a more detailed report such as click rate and engagement rate to further evaluate the campaign result.

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S: What were the best marketing campaigns run by European brands on Sina Weibo in 2018 and why?

LW: We have had many good case studies done by European brands in 2017, such as Estée Lauder Companies UK, Chelsea Football, Visit Scotland, INTO University Partnerships, etc. We hope to collaborate with more European brands to run creative and interactive marketing campaigns on Weibo.

The commonality of these successful campaigns were to leverage on Chinese culture and interests. They created Chinese social-cultural oriented content and engaged with their followers. These marketers are open-minded and active on Weibo, willing to try new services and products, actively learning from a consumer’s perspective to understand the Chinese digital landscape.

S: Do you have 3 tips all marketers should follow when targeting the Chinese market?

LW: 

  1. Localize your business – Adopt a Chinese name, make a Chinese website and develop quality content in Chinese in order to communicate with the locals.
  2. Understand the Digital Landscape in China – monitor top platforms, new platforms, new developments, trends and regulations to keep updated on what is happening in China. Open a Weibo verified account to start the conversation in China.
  3. Hire local Mandarin-speaking marketers or agencies to help with strategy planning and social media marketing. They can develop localized content that is appealing to the Chinese customers so as to capture market share and awareness.

 

 

Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash
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