The Chinese social network
Weibo, the first Chinese microblogging site, was launched by Sina Corporation in August 2009. It is China’s leading alternative to Twitter – and soon to become much more of a household name in the marketing world. Available initially in China, Sina Weibo launched its English version in October 2011. With over 300 million users in early 2012 and a market share of 90% in China, Weibo is a close competitor to Twitter (500 million users worldwide).
Sina Corporation was chosen to create ‘a network more intuitive and complete than Twitter’, launched a month earlier. The messages contain up to 140 Chinese characters, the equivalent of 280 alphabet characters (twice as much as Twitter). All replies to a message are visible in the form of conversations, in the spirit of Facebook and the recent functionality added to Twitter.
Users are able to seamlessly integrate images and videos into messages and have access to a range of applications, games and a personalised URL address.
The benefits of a presence on Sina Weibo
The success of the social network is not so much technical as social. Weibo has become a place of public debate where the Chinese can express themselves freely and share their ideas. According to a study by UM entitled The Social Media Tracker Wave, Internet users in China are three times more connected to brand communities than in France, Germany or Japan. This highlights a real opportunity for brands to develop a strategy for effective engagement through the Chinese social network.
Information that was previously denied to the public with the block on Twitter, became shared at such a rate that the Chinese speak of a “snowball effect very difficult to interrupt.” Weibo could thus be an important platform to marketing teams, allowing brands to share news immediately in a similar manner to Twitter.
The launch of the English version has also facilitated access to the network for foreign companies: 130,000 companies, including major international brands (Maybelline, Dior, Lancome, Chanel, Coca-Cola) each have an account. A Sina Weibo representative explains: “It’s not for us to conquer the world but to allow foreign companies to enter the Chinese market.”
Integrating a social media strategy in Asia – through Sina Weibo
Upon opening a Weibo account, a brand can quickly implement their communications strategy and engage in conversations with other users. But like any social network, it soon becomes vital to collect, classify and qualify communications with consumers and identify key influencers.
At Synthesio, we chose to integrate Sina Weibo in our sources to offer our customers comprehensive coverage of social media in China.
All mentions of a brand and associated keywords are collected and integrated into a monitoring dashboard. Each user is identified and Sina Weibo qualified: stats collected include the number of followers, friends and updates published up to the previous day, per user. It therefore becomes possible to identify the key users and influencers for a brand and then engage in dialogue with them.
The Synthesio Rank score of each entry (calculated from our own algorithm based around a user’s reputation and visibility of the message) is also computed by our tool to help customers quickly locate conversations by the most visible and most influential users for their activity.
In addition, we collect information in real time on Sina Weibo to allow you to follow relevant conversations, answer customer questions and prevent negative buzz before it spreads.
To learn more about our tools and how you can monitor your brand in China, please contact us!