Introduction to Weibo Marketing for Brands

Weibo 新浪 微 博 which means “microblog” in Chinese is one of China’s biggest, oldest, and most influential social media, it has long been invested by brand. This social network allows its users to create, share, interact and discover online content through multiple functionalities. In addition to being able to follow other members of this community, Weibo allows its users to do a multitude of actions, such as post messages with a maximum of 2000 characters, post photos, videos, and stories, view live streaming and vlogs, buy and sell products, run surveys, play games, or advertise.

Similar to Twitter in the West, Weibo welcomes 216 million active users daily to its platform. 94% of these users come from mobile devices. With more than half of this community under the age of 30 according to IResearch, Weibo is an ideal platform for advertisers looking to promote their brand and their products and services to the younger Chinese generation.

Why should you have a Weibo Marketing Strategy?

The most obvious answer to this question is the great number of Weibo users and the status of the app as a place for societal debate as well as the propensity of content for going viral there thanks to hashtags. The user demographic and the type of content consumed on Weibo are also very varied making it a place where every type of company and brand can build a large following. In terms of marketing tools, as we will see later on during this article, the app offers a wide array of features that brand accounts can and should use to engage with their community and get more visibility. Note that paid advertising on Weibo is rather cost-efficient.

  • How many daily active users are on Weibo? 246 million (2021 Q2)
  • How many active monthly users are on Weibo? 566 million (2021 Q2)
  • Breakdown of Weibo users by age: in 2020, 30% of Weibo users are under 20 while less than 4% are aged 50+. 48% of users are aged 30 to 39, while the 40 to 49 segment represents 18% of users.
  • Breakdown of Weibo users by gender: Male users represent 46.6% of Weibo users while women represent 53.4% of the user base. (Q1 2021)
  • Content Breakdown on Weibo: There is more than 1 million content creator for 55 content category. The most représented category by influencers are News (24%+) and Entertainment (16%) followed closely by beauty and fashion (15%+) (2020)

Promotion on search engines is effective in increasing the visibility and notoriety of your account. The  “Discover” page of Weibo allows users to explore the platform and stay up to date with the latest hot topics. Thus, brands can promote a subject or a keyword on which they wish to position themselves, so as to stand out in the platform’s search results or even to be listed in “trending subjects”, to create the buzz around the launch of a new product for example.

Initially conceived as a simple means of entertainment, the app has become the preferred news medium of 72% of weibonauts. Indeed, Chinese citizens have long lost faith in traditional media, which has allowed Weibo to gain influence and become China’s most powerful information-sharing medium. In a study by China Internet Watch, respondents say they appreciate Weibo as a medium for its ability to quickly relay important topics as well as for their diversity. They also welcome the clarity of the information and the voices of experts.

With the integration of TaoBao and Tmall inside the app, users can directly access the sales areas of the products that influencers promote. For example, thanks to this device, the American brand Artistry collaborated with the KOL Miss Shopping Li.

The blogger tested the brand’s new red on video, highlighting it. The link added in the description has brought more than 100,000 people to the sales platform. These promotional campaigns are remarkable for their effectiveness, but they are far from being the only interactive experiences allowed by the platform.

Another of Weibo’s strengths is targeted advertising, the accuracy of which remains unmatched by other networks. It is possible to speak only to holders of a Taobao account, to those who have responded to the latest promotional campaigns, or to subscribers of competing brands. To improve each campaign, the app provides a detailed summary of all interactions and reactions generated.

This information is enriched by feedback from other platforms, such as Alibaba, one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the world. The social network also offers a lottery scheme, popular with users. The more users react to promotional content, the more likely they are to win the featured products.

How to get started on Weibo?

How to register and verify your Weibo account?

To register an official account, you need an email address or phone number which has not been used to register another Weibo account. There are three types of verification on Weibo: Individual, WeMedia, and Official. In order to verify a corporate account with a Chinese Business Registration License, you need the following documents:

  • The business registration license
  • A certified letter
  • A trademark registration certificate
  • An ICP website record (Internet Content Provider registration) issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology
  • And other relevant supporting documents

Weibo has been around since 2007 and is part of the Chinese netizen’s social media routine. It might not be as popular as it was once, but good commercial content on Weibo can be a lot more impactful than on Wechat. With Weibo, it is easy to share and get viral. It is an open social media, everyone can see everything and comments everywhere which encourages people to comment and engage between themselves and with the brand.

It is a must for many industries because peoples still refer to Weibo to evaluate the credibility of a brand. So if you are in B2C especially, here are the steps to take to have the most optimized Weibo account.

Why do you need a verified Weibo Account?

Chinese tend to be wary of fake and fake accounts. Getting your brand or company a Weibo official account, not only will improve your credibility with users but also protect your brand from copycats and/or Internet trolls that could be falsely using your brand name.

Weibo’s official account also comes with more features and tools that brands really want to work with. Getting a verified Weibo account also comes with perks, such as the little blue tick on your profile picture and increased visibility.

How to use Weibo to market purposes?  

Steps to create an effective marketing strategy on Weibo:

  1. Set up your ad account if you haven’t already
  2. Brand your profile and add content
  3. Research and define your audience
  4. Interact, reply, and engage with others
  5. Get help from specialists with local knowledge
  6. Make use of Weibo’s trend data
  7. SEO your posts
  8. Create engaging content and invite interaction
  9. Choose your Weibo advertising method that best suits your goal – to either grow your follower count or turn them into customers

For an effective Weibo Marketing Strategy thing community management

At the level of community management, it is essential to know the content that you want to post to make the best promotion to your potential customers. Once you have properly analyzed our post, you have to plan everything according to your community when publishing. Indeed, you have to choose:

  • The time
  • The day of the week
  • Sometimes even the right time in the year

As seen in the photos below: Subscriber engagement is variable and that’s what can change everything later to increase your visibility. Indeed, the algorithms of social networks like Weibo highlight the posts according to certain engagement statistics analyzed by artificial intelligence in the first half-hour of the post, such as the number of likes, comments, and the time spent on publication (this is the subscriber retention strategy).

As seen on the first tab, Weibo users are a lot more active between 10 am-2 pm and 6 pm-12 pm – On the second tab, we observe that Weibo usage falls significantly during the Chinese new year celebrations.

It is preferable to target a niche market and not to disperse too much information within the same post so that the algorithm finds an audience for which to highlight the publication. It is better to geolocate your post to gain visibility since this will allow some users to discover the content through another channel.

As explained previously, the important characteristic to take into account to optimize your account and your posts: is user engagement with the post. For this, many urge people to:

  • Like
  • Subscribe
  • Share
  • Save the content like influencers for example at the end of a video.

The strategy to do better than inspire is to make users want to interact by creating original content. For example, sports influencers post pictures with playful diagrams that show certain types of exercises which creates more engagement as people record to find the exercises simply and clearly when they feel like it.

Marketing Tools to Promote your brand on Weibo

  • Lucky draw, flash sales, and so on. They are native to Weibo and their goal is to increase engagement with users. For brands on a limited budget, lucky draw campaigns are great for increasing Weibo followers. The campaign consists of users reposting articles in order to be entered into the drawing and is held by the Weibo official account. This type of campaign requires a verified account. There are 6 tools designed by Weibo for a marketing campaign that is not your traditional paid ad: Lucky draw, flash sales, Pre-order, free trial, repost, and Content Collection Campaign.
  • Campaigns such as lucky draw can use the Weibo official tools set or be designed from scratch by content creators and brands. There is no limitation on the type of account for this type of campaign.
  • Optimize your account to be displayed on the “Discover” page of Weibo. This page allows users to explore the platform and be informed of the latest hot topics. Brands can thus promote a subject or a keyword on which they wish to position themselves, so as to stand out in the search results of the platform or to be listed in “trendy subjects”, to create buzz around the platform. launch of a new product for example. This format is ideal for increasing the audience of your Weibo account. 
  • Weibo offers advertisers the opportunity to use “Display” advertising within its platform. This format is very popular on Weibo and appears in different forms on the platform: pop-ups when opening the application, traditional banner ads visible on different pages, etc. To do this, Weibo provides advertisers with a call-to-action button to redirect them to a dedicated page.
  • Brands can also promote their offering on the Weibo news feed. Compared to “Display”, these native ads serve multiple purposes by adding the following call buttons: downloading an application, inviting a purchase, or participating in a challenge.
  • “Weibo Window” is Weibo’s e-commerce platform. In 2015, Weibo partnered with several Chinese marketplaces such as Taobao,, and Jumei, to allow its users to buy and sell products from its platform. Using this “shoppable” feature, merchants can distribute their product catalog directly from their Weibo page, by connecting their online store to their account. The opportunity to convert a brand’s “fans” into buyers.

Paid Advertising on Weibo

  • Destination Page: When opening Weibo, users get full-screen ads that are shown first. These can be a great way to attract attention as they show your product on full screen and although people can skip this ad, they often do not because of their short length.
  • Display ads: Weibo’s ad display is traditional but certainly still effective. Display ads are optimized for both the mobile and web versions, although mobile is predominantly used by the majority of people in China.
  • Weibo Feed Ads: TBrands can appear alongside content from their followers on Weibo Ads. They are designed to resemble organic posts in the stream, linking to products or services as if they were posted by an individual user.
Weibo Feed Ads and Destination page
  • Fan tunnel: With “Fan Tunnel,” Weibo gives you the ability to reach a new audience of fans and buyers by highlighting a post or your Weibo account at the top of a user’s news feed. This is targeted based on their age, gender, geographic area, interests, or the type of device used.
  • The “Fan Headline” format, on the other hand, works the same as “Fan Tunnel”, except that it targets your brand’s existing fan base. Fan headlines make a post more prominent to those already following you. If you have an engaging piece of content, promoting it and ensuring it is seen above other content can boost click-throughs and other metrics.
  • A fan pass is an ad campaign, operated through an account management platform. While similar to Facebook ads, the accounts require local ID and take 1 week for approval to be granted. Alternatively, for a fee and longer approval time, international businesses can get set up as well.

Weibo KOLS Marketing

Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) are very active in China. Made up of celebrities, internet stars, and bloggers, these thought leaders inspire consumers and are true spokespersons for your brand during KOL marketing operations. In return for payment, they communicate about the launch of your products and offer discount codes to their community. They thus contribute to the notoriety of your brand and to the increase of your sales, in particular by the diffusion of live streams, vlogs, but also of stories. 

Much of the content created by the most popular Key Opinion Leaders is related to the beauty industry and includes makeup product reviews, beauty tutorials as well as descriptions of cosmetics procedures they have performed. The main ways that brands can take advantage of content trends on this platform include collaborations with KOLs testing their products. They can also simply produce videos featuring a KOL wearing or using their branded products. Another practice increasingly used by brands is the introduction and steady growth of what are commonly referred to as Key Opinion Customers (KOCs).

李现ing has 23M on his Weibo account

KOCs are sometimes referred to as micro-KOLs. However, there are key differences between these two concepts related to the level of authenticity and the organic number of shared content. For example, some big beauty brands such as Maybelline, SK-II, Bobbi Brown, and YSL have launched and developed KOL campaigns on Weibo.

Famous blogger Gu Da Bai Hua took part in a campaign sponsored by the marketing team for the TV show Westworld. He sent posters and postcards of West-world actor James Marsden to followers who reposted his blog about the actor. Using this method, fans receive gifts or gift cards from your company through a blogger. It tends to have much more impact than if you give the gifts through your business account.

Live-Streaming on Weibo

As with Western influencers on Instagram live, YouTube live and Facebook live, there are many social networks in China where Key Opinion Leaders create live streams where users and subscribers can interact with the content and the creator in a direct way.

Live-streaming is an increasing trend and is experiencing a constant increase in the number of its users and creators. It is developing more and more among the general public and in particular among consumers of Generation Z.

The familiarity and the feeling of intimacy that can be established through live streams are one of the reasons why many consumers are interested and therefore influenced by a brand. This trend also accelerated during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and many users were able to interact in real-time with the entertainment content being broadcast.

Live Streaming on Weibo

Weibo has made a huge breakthrough in video content and more specifically in live streaming. With the growing popularity of short video platforms in China, it is one of the most effective ways to market on the platform. Weibo has its own brand of live streaming, called Yizhibo live, which quickly gained popularity after its release.

It has attracted KOLs and celebrities of all types, making it an excellent distribution channel for product and service promotions. Taobao is also integrated into the live streams, allowing viewers to shop while simultaneously watching their favorite influencer.

The most famous live streamer in China is a woman. Her name is Viya. The 34-year-old is followed by 5 million subscribers on Weibo, 12 million on Taobao, and 550,000 on Xiaohongshu. She is the head of a company employing 100 people. In 2019, Singles Day, is the biggest business event in China, which is held every November 11. The influencer has generated more than 3 billion yuan in turnover or more than 380 million euros.

The creation of a good promotion in advance for your live streaming on Weibo

To reach the widest audience during a live, the KOL must prepare its broadcast. Indeed, the time must be pre-defined, the life must be organized and repeated, if necessary, in advance.

You have to make sure that lives take place in the right environment. A good environment corresponds to:

  • A good connection to the network
  • Silence to make your direct in the best conditions

To have as many people as possible, you have to organize your teasing beforehand, for example:

  • By telling your audience that something is going to happen in a few days
  • By counting the days before your live appearance
  • By arousing curiosity by saying that you are going to reveal something important to your community

Just before the live, it is better to put an announcement on the networks to say that you will be live soon. You can advertise your teasing campaign for a fee to reach more people. Choose an intriguing video description that generates interest and attracts clicks. Add the word “en direct” or “live” in your description.

The alliance of Weibo & Taobao

A new partnership between Alibaba and Sina Weibo has formed, increasing the desire for both companies to accelerate their revenue. Alibaba is currently China’s largest e-commerce platform while Sina Weibo leads in microblogging with 500 million users worldwide. Their union will benefit each company by bringing more exposure to advertising markets as well as additional income through monetization.

The alliance of commerce and online media is not new, it is taking place across China and between the top two players in their industry.  Everyone has an interest in this union. The Alibaba group increased its share in Weibo by 30% and is thus seeking to catch up in the field of social networks and mobile. Sina Weibo hoped for its part to monetize and generate $ 380 million in advertising revenue within three years with this operation.

Examples of how companies have successfully used Weibo 

  • The North Face: The North Face used a very effective Weibo marketing strategy by engaging with users on Weibo. One user posted a picture of a pair of shoes that he wanted to buy for his wife. The North Face responded in the comments by offering the user a discount coupon. This kind of interaction offers an incentive to keep discussing the brand. In another case, The North Face offered a pleasant surprise to everyone who commented on the promotion of their new line of clothing. read more about The North Face Success in China
@The North Face on Weibo
  • Farfetch: For this one, the cutting-edge fashion e-commerce platform, the idea was to target people who set the trends and like to stand out. Farfetch regularly collaborates with Chinese celebrities and Kols on their social media platforms and in particular on Weibo where the company has close to 300k followers.
  • Estée Lauder: For the launch of its new “Double Wear” foundation, the Estée Lauder brand, for example, invited these opinion leaders to participate in a challenge on Weibo to demonstrate the longevity of this product. Yuyu, one of them posted a video that has been viewed 5.7 million times. The brand has long been dominating the Chinese cosmetics market and has just recently been dethroned by Florasis and Perfect diary. The years of domination prove that Estée Lauder has been approaching the market in a way that customers are sensitive to. Indeed, from early on, esthée lauder has been collaborating with local stars, kols but also brands for a unique collection. With 3.6 million followers on their Weibo account as of summer 2021, we can say without a doubt that these collaborations are fruitful. On top, of collabs, consumers can also purchase Estee lauder products within the app in just a few clicks.
  • Tiffany&Co: The brand also uses Weibo for customer service purposes. This post below is targeting the wedding season and is encouraging people to be dazzled by Tiffany’s diamonds. It is promoting their consultation services, in which you privately meet with a diamond expert to help you pick the perfect engagement ring. This post provides the contact information (website and customer service phone number) needed to book an appointment. 
    Posting customer service options on Weibo is a great way to engage Chinese consumers because it brings important information to users, thereby saving them the effort of having to actively search for it on Tiffany’s website. The immediacy facilitates fast and easy connections between Tiffany & Co. and its clients. Connecting the consultations with a specific time period creates a frame of reference that Weibo users can connect with. Once the connection is established, Tiffany immediately follows through by providing a clear course of action to take with the necessary resources. 

To conclude: Weibo Marketing is Key for Branding in China

Weibo is a powerful tool for image, branding, promotion, and increasing sales. WeChat’s competitor is on the rise again and China’s most open network is a key platform for you to consider for your launch in the country.

Weibo has over the years become one of the gateways to Chinese e-commerce. Its many features have been developed to allow brands to gain influence through original projects and therefore reach a new target. 

After our analysis of TikTok & WeChat, Weibo comes out as the big winner as the trusted network. In addition, over the course of its evolutions, the platform has gone from a simple Twitter Bis to a network of sincerity where we find influencers, KOLs, brands, and communities of all kinds. Weibo has therefore become an inevitable network for all brands wishing to enter the Asian market.

Want to start promoting your brand on Weibo? We have Solutions

Get the most out of your investment in China through targeted marketing and advertising. Working with an agency specialized in the Chinese market is key to achieving this goal, as all companies are different and their strategies should be tailored according to those needs within financial means. We know exactly what each business needs from us due to our success working with many other businesses before you that has increased ROI for them

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