Business Marketing Strategies on Sina Weibo
Business Marketing Strategies on Sina Weibo
Weibo provides precious opportunities for businesses that want to increase brand awareness and gain popularity in China. To help brands reach out to their targeted customers, Weibo provides several marketing packages which include things like display ads, Search Engine Promotion, and influencer marketing.
To establish a prominent online presence in China, here are some tips for you to fully utilize Weibo’s marketing functions:
1. Managing your Weibo Corporate Account
To kickstart your marketing journey, you should first register a corporate account/verify your official account. After registration and verification, you can customize your account homepage by uploading engaging banners, cover page, and background pictures.
Besides, you can also edit brand-related information to introduce your business to the public. For example, L’OrealPro inserted a link to its Tmall store on the homepage, which directs its fans to shop for their products directly.
Profile Page of a Weibo corporate account
After customizing your own account homepage, the next step would be creating engaging content to attract followers. Posts related to new product launches, advertising/promotional campaigns, and festive greetings can be shared to foster interaction and update consumers constantly.
To compose an engaging message, businesses can make use of the media-rich nature of Weibo to create multimedia content including things like videos, pictures, live streaming, and adding emojis in their posts. Besides, the “@tag” function enables users to tag relevant parties in the posts, while the “#hashtag” function leads users to a dedicated page that garners all posts with the same topic. To lead users to a specific website, you can also insert a link in the message.
Create Engaging Content with Multimedia, tags, and hashtags on Weibo
Hashtags just like on Twitter are very powerful for raising the public’s awareness towards different subjects. For example, LorealPro has tagged #MAJIFASHION# in the post, which is related to its newly promoted hair color collection. When viewers click on the hashtag, they would be directed to a page that showcases all the related information, so that viewers can swiftly find and discuss the latest product launch. If the hashtag becomes popular on the platform, it can even be listed on the “Trending Search” or “Hot Topic” lists on Weibo search.
The landing page of the hashtag #MAJIFASHION#
2. Promotional Campaigns on Weibo
Businesses can make use of special features on Weibo to implement online promotional campaigns. It is very cost-effective as the platform helps you to reach a large population across different regions in China with a smaller budget. Below we’ll introduce 3 types of promotional campaigns popular on the platform.
Many brands make use of the “Re-post” function of Weibo to launch promotional campaigns. It is popular as it enables participants to share the message within their social circle, thus spreading it around the online community very quickly.
Lancôme launched a Repost Campaign in 2015, in which participants needed to repost a message about Lancôme’s newly launched eye products. The company would then choose 2000 participants to send out a 7-day trial of the new product. If participants post any content to join the discussion about #7-day eye miracle# and tag @Lancôme, they would have a chance to win a one-year supply of the brand’s best-selling serum.
The activity attracted 13 thousand people from different regions in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Heilongjiang, etc.) to share the post, and has successfully raised people’s awareness of the new product.
Lancôme’s report campaign on Weibo
Content creation campaign
Content creation campaigns encourage users to contribute organic content related to the brand or product. Users can post content like pictures, videos or product reviews according to organizers’ instructions. The organizer would then picks winners and sends out awards based on the quality of content/ by random drawing.
Lancôme made use of the function by asking Weibo users to share how they use Lancôme’s products for make-up or skincare with hashtag #Lancômers sharing Lancôme products# and tag @Lancôme. The company would then choose 10 winners and send them special prizes that cost ¥355 originally. The campaign achieved great success with 2433 people sharing their ideas on the platform.
Lancôme’s content creation campaign
The Lucky Draw Campaign is held by the “Weibo Lucky Draw platform”, which is an official account handling all the lucky draw activities launched by users. For any individuals who would like to initiate a lucky draw campaign, they should inform the platform and share a post with activity guidelines (share, repost, follow, etc.), activity time, and prizes, then tag the “Weibo Lucky Draw platform” – @微博抽獎平台. The platform would help you to perform and monitor the process of drawing, which ensures fairness among all participants.
An example of Weibo Lucky Draw campaign
In terms of campaign effectiveness, the biggest advantage is that the spread of information on the platform is very quick. The event message and information of the organizer can be spread and reach a lot of people across China rapidly, given that there are more than 462 million MAUs on Weibo.
The Weibo campaign is very beneficial to brands or even individuals as the procedures of setting up online campaigns is very convenient. Weibo’s official accounts @Weibo official events and @Weibo Lucky Draw platform can deal with the whole process and answer any inquiries they the organizer has. However, as of 1/4/2019, the @Weibo official events have stopped functioning and users may need to wait for further announcements about Weibo lucky draw campaigns. Still, businesses can still make use of @Weibo Lucky Draw platform to launch lucky draw and report campaigns.
3. Weibo Window
As mentioned above, Weibo Window enables users to link their e-commerce shops to their Weibo accounts. It can promote direct sales as users can browse all your product listings on a single page, or may purchase it right after reading product reviews on the platform.
Grace Chow, a KOL in China who owns her own fashion brand has demonstrated how to make use of Weibo Window efficiently. She links her TaoBao shop to Weibo Window so that all products are properly listed on a single page. Interested buyers can simply click on the image and be directed to TaoBao.com for payment.
Grace Chow’s Weibo Window
Grace Chow further utilizes the micro-blogging nature of Weibo by uploading eye-catching pictures of her products to introduce the products to her audience. These usually focus on things like the quality of the materials, concepts for her designs, and dressing tips to build trust and differentiate her products. It helps to educate the audience and make them more familiar with the products, boosting sales effectively.
Grace Chow’s Weibo post
To encourage interactions and raise brand awareness, she also launches give away activities frequently and select winners who have liked or reposted. Her promotional posts receive more than 3,000 likes and 1500 reposts on a regular basis, which is a classic example of a combination of E-commerce (Weibo Window) and social media (Weibo micro-blogging).
4. Content marketing (KOLs and celebrities)
For those who are familiar with Taobao, they may have heard of the “TaoKe promotion” (淘客推廣) introduced by Alimama, which allows people to earn money by promoting TaoBao products within their social circle. In late 2017, Weibo co-operated with Alimama and launched the “Weibo Content-driven marketing platform”. Similar to the “TaoKe promotion” initiatives, the platform connects shops registered on Alimama and users on Weibo who would like to earn extra income by writing promotional posts on Weibo.
For Weibo users who have over 10 thousand followers and 100 thousand monthly page views, they can register on the platform and get automatically authorized if they pass the requirements. Weibo also welcomes registered advertising companies with minimum 3 accounts with over 100 thousand monthly page views. After registration, you can log into the system and choose what you would like to write about. Once a buyer purchases a product through your post and link, you can get commissions based on the commission rate.
The platform provides precious opportunities for e-commerce stores who would like to raise sales and brand awareness through influencer marketing on Weibo. To enjoy the service, stores with Taobao/Tmall stores can register with Alimama, so that their products will appear in the platform’s database and be accessible by influencers. It is beneficial to sellers as no extra cost is incurred, they only need to pay commissions if the product is sold out. However, it can be difficult to get any attention on this platform if you’re brand new to the market and have little brand recognition or previous sales in China.
Weibo’s content-driven marketing platform
Apart from the platform, businesses can also consider traditional influencer marketing by inviting KOLs and celebrities on the platform to share your products. Still, you need to pay for the post before getting the exact sales income and it is important to know how to leverage the right influencers. Success depends highly on their personal image, expertise, engagement rates, and the number of followers.
5. Weibo Advertising
As a social media platform that earned 1.5 billion in marketing and advertising revenues last year, Weibo has done very well in providing advertising solutions for businesses on the platform. It has introduced several advertising packages which include display ads, search engine promotion, newsfeed ads, and video ads, which are popular among companies in different industries.
Weibo Advertising: Display advertisements
Like many other social media platforms, Weibo also features display advertisements, which include pop-up advertisements (support pictures, videos, and gifs) upon opening the app, traditional banner ads, etc. Businesses can further add value to the advertisement by adding an “interactive function”, such as a “click here” button that directs users to a dedicated page (internal or external link).
Display advertisements are very popular as most operate on a cost per click model, which results in only paying for performance. The upon app-open display advertisement is also particularly useful for catching users’ attention as it pops up immediately upon opening the app. Overall, display ads are some of the most popular forms of Weibo advertising.
Weibo’s pop up advertisement and its landing page
Weibo Advertising: Search Engine Advertising
As mentioned before, Weibo has a “Discover” page that acts as a comprehensive search engine within the platform. It showcases hot topics around the community and sorts them into different categories. Users can perform advanced searches through keywords allowing them to browse related posts, accounts, and fan pages on the platform.
Weibo has helped businesses to make use of the function by introducing “Search Bar Promotion”. Businesses can “buy” a search topic/keyword, after which their chosen post will be recommended as the top listed result in the search bar. Once the topic is searched, users would be directed to a designated page, which may be the brand account, fan page, etc.
Apart from “search bar promotion”, businesses can also consider buying search topics on the “Hot topic” and “Trending Search” lists. The topic that you purchase will be listed at the 3rd place on the list, with a “promotion” tag besides. This is incredibly powerful for fostering discussion or building buzz around a new topic or product.
The promoted trend on Weibo
The search engine promotion is effective for boosting visibility and awareness. As the keyword can only be bought by one buyer within a specific period of time, it ensures the uniqueness of your promotional item. Different from display advertisements that mainly drive traffic to an external link (official website etc.), search engine promotion focuses on increasing the amount of attention and quantity of traffic to your Weibo account. If increasing your follower base is your goal this is likely the right form of Weibo advertising for you!
Weibo Advertising: Newsfeed Advertisements
Newsfeed advertisements are advertisements that are integrated within the explore page feed, businesses can customize the content of the promoted posts by adding text, pictures, and videos around a specific topic. As the fastest growing ad format in China, newsfeed advertisements tend to be pricier but also perform better than many other categories.
Compared to display advertisements, newsfeed advertisements support multiple goals as marketers can insert specific “trigger buttons” to encourage users to take action, such as “Join now”, “Buy now” and “Download now”. For example, the fashion brand Vero Moda launched a Weibo advertisement to promote its winter sales. It inserted a “Buy now” button below the featured picture, which directs users to the Weibo Window and TaoBao shop once clicked.
Weibo’s trigger buttons
The action-oriented trigger buttons allow marketers to create campaigns around specific goals, such as inviting others to join an activity, buying certain goods and fostering app installations. It is the most effective form of Weibo advertisement for prompting immediate actions and lead generation.
Weibo Advertising: Video Advertisement
Following the trend of Instagram stories, Weibo also launched its “Weibo stories” in 2017, which allows users to post a 15-second short video or photo to share moments of their daily lives. Unlike usual Weibo posts, users can make use of interesting stickers, text effects, filters, tags or even AR (using Apple’s ARkit) to compose an intriguing story. The Weibo story post disappears 24-hour in feeds, but users can also save it to their album after publishing.
Different from Instagram stories, Weibo stories allows users to comment on stories publicly. This makes them slightly more interactive than the stories on Instagram. However, users can also disable the comment function.
In fact, many KOLs and celebrities have been using the Weibo story not only to share their daily lives but to also recommend products/places to their followers. It is very effective as this kind of “advertisements” are considered less commercial/pushy, thus they can motivate viewers to try the advertised products in a soft way.
Weibo also launched marketing packages for businesses that would like to promote through Weibo stories. Businesses’ advertisements would be shown at the third place of the story list, with a tag “recommended”. Extra interactive functions such as “Unfold” can lead viewers to a specific page, such as your brand account.
Weibo’s video advertisement and its landing page
6. Weibo Advertising: Extra functions and Boosted Posts
Apart from running a full-fledged marketing campaign, marketers can simply boost a specific post/advertisement to raise brand awareness and marketing performance by utilizing other Weibo advertising options.
Weibo Advertising: Super Fans Tunnel
Super Fans Tunnel is an effective tool for businesses who would like to gain extra followers and reach new consumers. It functions by placing your Weibo post/account at the top of a targeted audiences’ news feeds like a “headline”. This form of Weibo advertising is likely familiar to marketers in the west who have used Facebook, Twitter, and other platform’s boosted post format.
To maximize efficiency, you can specify the features of targeted viewers, such as age, regions, interests, life stages or even target those who have interacted with specific posts/topics. For example, if you are a cosmetics brand trying to boost a post featuring Lu Han, you may want to target females aged 18-30 (as Lu Han is popular among youngsters), and those who have followed cosmetics brands /KOLs’ accounts, or people who have interacted with Lu Han’s posts/topics previously, so as to ensure the effectiveness of the celebrity endorsement.
Super Fans Tunnel is very popular among businesses as it helps you to reach a large group of Weibo users without being limited by your fan base. Besides, it is less costly and complicated compared to a full advertisement, which acts as an alternative for marketers who want to promote specific content.
Fees for Super Fans Tunnel is dependent on Number of users reached
Super Fans Headline
Super Fans Headline acts similarly to Super Fans Tunnel. However, the Super Fans Headline is more suitable for businesses who would like to seek more views and click-throughs within their existing fans base.
The post or account boosted would appear at the top of the newsfeed of your followers, which is a strategy to increase follower engagement. Still, for brands with a relatively small fan base, #Super Fans Tunnel may be more useful as it can help you to reach out to fans outside your following and increase your number of followers.
It is noteworthy that to ensure users would not be bothered by repeating messages, the promoted posts would only appear as the headline once for each follower. As a reminder again, this form of Weibo advertising should only be used to target your existing follower base, and not reach new followers.
Weibo Advertising Analytics
To monitor marketing performance, businesses can access the data analytics tool in the Account Management Centre, which includes information such as the demographic details about your followers, performance data of each Weibo post and the number of page views on your account. There are some extra functions useful for marketing management, such as auto-replies private messages, mass-messaging and the Micro hotspot (which tells you the popularity of words on the platform).
All in all, Weibo provides comprehensive marketing tools with different features for marketers to choose from. It is important for businesses to choose the right features to ensure to maximize cost-effectiveness.
Summary – Sina Weibo is going international
Weibo has provided an unprecedented way for people to publicly express themselves in real time, interact with others on a massive global platform and stay connected with the world.
An English version of Weibo.com is yet to be developed
Apart from the local China market, Weibo has reached out to its neighboring countries by launching Weibo Hong Kong and Weibo Taiwan with traditional Chinese characters. To cater to the needs of foreign users, Weibo has developed an English edition for desktop and English apps for the iPhone and iPad. Although a full English, or other languages website interface has yet to be developed, we predict that Sina Weibo will begin moving towards internationalization, as competition in the domestic market continues to heat up. Hopefully this will provide more marketers with the opportunity to make use of this incredible platform. We hope this article showed you that Sina Weibo is much more than just a Chinese Twitter clone.