Chinese Social Media:A closer look at Weibo

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Chinese Social Media:A closer look at Weibo

What is Weibo?

Weibo is the Chinese [tooltip text=”official phonetic system for transcribing the sound of Chinese characters into Latin script” link=”” target=”” color=”black”]pinyin[/tooltip] for the word ‘微博’ which literally means “Micro blog”. This differs from its English equivalent  “Twitter” which is simply a brand name and trademark with the logo of Larry Bird. It is less abstract and gives insight into the function of the service, which is a small or scaled down blogging experience. The word ‘微’ (micro) has becomes extremely popular as a result and prefixes many other media now…. micro-interview, micro-magazine, micro… you can clearly see the influence Weibo has had on the Chinese society. There are only a few larger companies that provide a similar service to Weibo; the two major players are Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo.

As discussed in our last blog, there are many companies working on the same type of social platforms that tend to have a slightly different focus from each other, believing that this ‘edge’ will ensure their success and gain them the greatest market share.  With that in mind, let’s compare Sina and Tencent Weibo:

  Sina WeiboWeibo Tencent Weiboweibo-tencent
About the Company 1998   700 million

  • Sina  owns Sina Weibo Inc. Sina is the Latin name for China. Sina was established in 1998 and was floated on NASDAQ in 2000.
  • It was considered top 4 online portal (Together with Soho, Netease and Tencent) in China at that time. Registered user of 230 million with 700 million views daily.
  • With its HQ in Shanghai, Sina also operates from Beijing, Hong Kong, Tai Pei and North America.
  • More company info please click here.
1998  1 billion

  • Tencent Weibo was launched by Tencent Holdings. Tecent is a well-known IT company in China established in 1998 in Shenzhen.
  • Tencent developed a popular online chatting application named QQ that boasts to have 1 billion registered users globally. Users can achieve online chatting, files transfer, blogging, cloud storage, qq and email.
  • QQ users can generate Tencent Weibo and Wechat using the same account easily.
  • More company info please click here.


The birth of Weibo 2009  500 Million

  • Sina was the first to launch Weibo service on a large scale in 2009 and it took over the majority of Chinese Weibo users in very quickly.
2010  500million

  • Tecent Weibo is a natural product of the company in early 2010 when microbloging become so popular in China.
  • This new online interactive media became extremely popular and the number of registered user reached 500 million Dec.2012.
  • Daily Weibo posts has reached 100 million and they are mainly from China, Singapore, Malaysia .
  • Sina Weibo also brought in for Sina Corp 16% of its total online advertisement revenue.  More and more companies are budgeting advertising on Sina Weibo in one way or another.
  • It has a customer base from QQ and the users have been using its service for years, however Tencent Weibo wasn’t as successful as Sina Weibo initially.
  • The number of users is high (500 million+) but Tecent Weibo isn’t as active as Sina Weibo.
  • A lot of analysts believe this is because it launched its Weibo later than Sina Weibo and there was huge product differentiation between Tencent’s other social product lines. Their users maybe got a bit confused with too many choices.  However, Tecent then launched its Wechat service to fight for its territory in the social battlefield. Wechat is a combination of Whatsapp, Facebook and Instragram and more.
Typical User background Dominated by White collar middle class Mixed but with much younger audience (under 20)


Who is on Weibo?

Many domestic modern brands (corporate, individual, public service etc) have established their presence on Weibo.  International brands such as Starbucks, Channel, Mercedes Benz, Durex etc are all very active on Weibo and they have more than half a million followers. Many western celebrities are also using Weibo to keep a ‘personal’ contact with their fans, for example Victoria Beckham (1.31 million fans), Michael Owen (2.71 million fans), Tom Cruise (5.44 million fans).

How can you promote your company on Weibo?

Anyone can register on Weibo and promote themselves or their business on it. There are some similarities between marketing via Twitter and marketing via Weibo but there are also differences.  To maximise your Chinese social media marketing strategy and target those who you are most interested in, it is crucial to understand the language, the culture and the social references. Simply Mandarin provides a tailored Chinese Weibo marketing service to English speaking companies. Please call +44(0)20 328 65888 or email [email protected] and see how we can help.

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