Sina Weibo is a Chinese microblogging website. Akin to a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook, Sina Weibo is one of the most popular sites in China. Due to its popularity, the media sometimes directly uses “Weibo” to refer to Sina Weibo. However, there are other Chinese microblogging/weibo services including Tencent Weibo, Sohu Weibo, and NetEase Weibo.
Name: Sina Weibo
Core Business: microblogging
- In 2009, Sina Corporation launched Sina Weibo.
- In 2011, Sina Weibo changed its domain name from t.sina.com.cn to weibo.com .
- As of March 2011, Sina Weibo had 56.5% of China’s microblogging market based on active users.
- In 2012, around 100 million messages were posted each day on Sina Weibo. As of December 2012, it had 503 million registered users.
- As of May 2014, Alibaba Group owned 32% of Sina Weibo.
- Sina Weibo actively invited many Asian and Western celebrities such as David Beckham and Beyoncé.
Weibo’s MAU growth continues to be robust, reaching 212 million in June 2015. This is due to Weibo publicly stating its dedication to improving user experience, increasing penetration into lower tiered cities, and expanding its partnerships with television and movie industries. Due to the increasing number of companies using Weibo to advertise their name, Weibo’s revenue grew 163% year over year and the number of customers reached 443,000 in the second quarter of 2015.
Sina Weibo has a verification process much like Twitter’s, in which the identity of a famous person or organization can be assured. Once a user gets through the verification process, a colorful V will be added behind their Weibo usernames.
- Orange V is for individual accounts (left)
- Blue V is for organizations and companies (right)
Sina Weibo allows users to follow celebrities and their contacts. Becoming a “fan” of a celebrity means that their posts will appear on your timeline, which can then be liked, reposted, and commented on.
The top two Chinese celebrities on Weibo both have over 78 million followers: the largest online fanbase in the world.
To compare with Twitter in the West, the celebrities with the most Twitter followers are Katy Perry (77.5 million), Justin Bieber (69.4 million), Taylor Swift (65.9 million) and Barack Obama (65.8 million). None of the top Twitter celebrities in the West reach the number of followers the top Weibo celebrities have in China.
Aside from Chinese celebrities, more and more foreign stars are opening their own Weibo accounts. Avril Lavigne’s Weibo account (below) is one of many managed by Fanstang, a California-based marketing firm specializing in Chinese social media strategies for international celebrities. Clients include Robert Downey Jr., Paris Hilton, Jason Mraz, and countless others.
Unlike the aforementioned accounts, Beckham appears to send out his posts personally without the help of an agency. Most of Beckham’s posts are brief plugs for his charitable activities, latest matches, and fashion shoots.
David Beckham has 5,288,927 Weibo followers.
Key Opinion Leaders
Key opinion leaders, or KOLs, play an important role in Chinese digital marketing strategies. Ranging from fashion bloggers to travel photographers, KOLs generally have a large and loyal audience due to their high-quality content and unique perspectives in a given category. With this combination of influence and reach, KOLs have become a favored marketing tool to amplify social awareness. Check out how Beats by Dr. Dre uses Chinese celebrities like Kris Wu as KOLs to promote their campaign.