All You Need To Know About Weibo

April 18, 2019
Photo credit: Brent Lewin—Bloomberg/Getty Images

“Weibo” (微博), which means “microblog”, is one of the largest Chinese social media platforms. Launched in 2009, it is often described as a mix of Twitter and Facebook: it has 140-character limit for each post; and it offers functions similar to Facebook’s, e.g. personalized profile, polls, video and music sharing.

Currently boasting an impressive 445 million monthly worldwide active users, Weibo is partially owned by Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce firm. To compete with its rivals such as WeChat (another popular Chinese social media platform owned by Tencent), Weibo has put focus not only on growing its user base, but also on expanding and diversifying its advertising options.

This blog post focuses on what the platform offers the U.S. brand marketers and advertisers.

Weibo in North America: the Geographic and Demographic Outlook

In 2018, Weibo surpassed 2.5 million registered users in the U.S., with the highest numbers reported in California, New York New Jersey, Virginia, Texas and Illinois. In Canada, there are more than 600K registered users, most of them in the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec.

Source: Sina Weibo / Weibo.com

With over 2 million daily posts in North America alone, Weibo is most popular with a young and educated Chinese audience worldwide: 14% are 20 years old or younger, 42% are between 21 and 35 years old, and 41% are 36-45 years old. Over 83% Weibo users hold at least one bachelor degree.

Source: Sina Weibo / Weibo.com

What’s Trending on Weibo?

Although relatively a newcomer to the U.S. social media space, Weibo is actually no stranger to some of the most high-profile influencers in North America. With its Twitter-like feature, many well-known celebrities leverage the platform and build massive fan base. For example, in sports, the NBA’s Weibo profile boasts over 39 million followers. Some other household names who actively interact with followers on the platform include:

Jeremy Lin (5.8MM)
Taylor Swift (7.3MM)
Tom Cruise (5.3MM)
Jackie Chan (30MM)
Michael Phelps (570K)
Bill Gates (3.9MM)
Avril Lavigne (3.6MM)

Besides celebrities, there are Weibo accounts that are created for Chinese American users. Here are just a few examples:

Account Followers Type
World Reporters in North America
环球网美国记者站
7.9MM  U.S. daily national news outlet
Sina North America
北美新浪官方微博
1.6MM North American daily news and lifestyle media outlet operated by Sina
The China Press (U.S.)
美国《侨报》官方微博
2.2MM International daily news outlet
Hollywood Entertainment Central
好莱坞各类娱乐八卦新闻集散地
1.6MM Hollywood daily entertainment news
Dealmoon 3.1MM North American fashion news outlet
This is the U.S.
这里是美国
7.9MM Lifestyle and news

A Guide to Weibo Advertising 

Weibo is a great digital advertising platform for two reasons. First, it features diversified format. It is a comprehensive social media platform with rich content format: text, images, videos (short and long form), articles, live videos, and Weibo stories. In other words, it combines features of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

Source: Sina Weibo/ Weibo.com

Second, Weibo advertising has been established in-market longer than any other Chinese social media platforms. Its intelligent and actionable insights make it highly effective for brands in terms of ROI. Including Weibo in your marketing mix means an opportunity to engage a large, active community of Chinese American consumers in the most targeted way.

Some of the most effective, commonly-used formats are:

Display ad: Weibo accepts direct media buy and offers geo-targeting for North American advertisers. Formats include full screen opening pages, banners, and display ad between Weibo feeds

Key Opinion Leaders (i.e. influencers): Advertisers can create influencer marketing campaigns by leveraging popular Weibo Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) to promote brand awareness

Promoted posts: This includes promoted posts, accounts and display ad between Weibo feeds. There are also different targeting tactics: by age, location, topics and genders

Advertorial post (long article format): advertisers can leverage selected Weibo accounts to create long-form advertorial. Some of the case studies include  Lip Art by Lancome, and Dare to Stage by YSL

Weibo Enterprise Account: allows brands to create their own profile pages and push content

Source: Sina Weibo; ‘Weibo Now Used by Nearly 25% of Population in China’, eMarketer Nov 8, 2018

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