What exactly is Weibo? Translating to “microblog” in English, Weibo is one of China’s most influential social media platforms. Built on user relationships, it’s a hub for sharing, discussing, and consuming the latest information and news.
For marketers, Weibo presents a landscape rich with advertising opportunities. This guide is designed to navigate you through the intricacies of this platform, providing you with valuable tips, statistics, and insights specific to Weibo marketing. By the end, you’ll be well-prepared to engage and captivate Weibo’s massive audience.
What is Weibo?
Launched in 2009, Weibo has grown to become one of the prominent social media platforms in China. As of December 2022, the app had 586 million monthly active users (MAUs) and 252 million average daily active users (DAUs), making Weibo one of the most-used platforms in the world.
While initially compared to X (formerly known as Twitter), Weibo has expanded its feature set to include elements akin to Instagram and Facebook. The app enables users to create and share content ranging from short posts called “microblogs” to multimedia and long-form pieces encouraging lively, real-time social interactions. Its unique asymmetric following system allows users to engage with others by commenting and reposting, turning individual posts into wide-reaching, viral conversations.
Weibo also extends its utility to businesses, offering tailored advertising and marketing solutions. Through its advanced recommendation system, advertisers can precisely target campaigns based on user demographics and social behaviors, optimizing for marketing reach and engagement.
Who Are Weibo’s Users?
Weibo primarily attracts a young audience. 74.5% of Weibo’s users are aged below 35. Notably, students under 25 frequent the platform for leisure, especially during peak hours around noon and 10 p.m.
The highly content-centric user base focuses on news, entertainment, and celebrity updates. Younger users born in the ’90s and ’00s show a “pan-entertainment” preference, concentrating on film, TV, and gaming topics. Conversely, users born in the ’70s and ’80s exhibit a “pan-social” orientation, engaging in a wider array of trending discussions.
Weibo effectively caters to these diverse interests by offering general and niche community spaces and is valued for its celebrity engagement and customized content. Additionally, Weibo has a strong female presence, making up 67% of its user base. Specifically, women born in the 90’s are active consumers of content related to household management, health, and luxury items. Weibo’s tailored discussions make it a significant conduit for brands to reach and influence female consumers, helping to shape market trends.
Creators and Consumers
There are two user categories on Weibo: content creators and content consumers. Content consumers primarily consist of ordinary users who browse content rather than produce it. Such individuals are not just passive scrollers; they participate in their interest circles, engaging with the content that resonates with them. They are the audience who drive the popularity of a post through their likes and shares but do not actively contribute to the content pool.
Content creators are a more diverse and active group subdivided into lower, middle, and top-tier influencers.
Lower-tier influencers are the backbone of various interest groups. They’re often the most passionate members, sometimes even leading fan groups, and constantly generate content to fuel discussions and keep topics trending. Their influence is pivotal in keeping conversations alive and communities engaged.
Middle-tier influencers are typically identified as Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs). These influencers contribute content and often shape and lead discussions, sway public opinion, and establish trends within their respective communities.
Finally, the top-tier influencers include well-known celebrities and official brand or organization accounts. These users are not content contributors but trendsetters and topic initiators. Their posts often receive extensive engagement and visibility, reaching a broad audience beyond their immediate follower base and may spark viral discussions.
What Do People Use Weibo for?
Celebrity Engagement and Fan Activity
Weibo is a hub for celebrity-fan interactions, offering features that enhance the connection between celebrities and followers. Fans can easily stay up-to-date with their favorite celebrities, participate in “Super Topics” fan communities, and vote in celebrity-related polls.
The “Super Topics” feature allows users to gather around shared interests in various industries, reinforcing the social bonds among users with similar interests. It is mostly used in fandoms, where fans unite to share news, and fan art, or engage with other fans.
Beauty and Fashion Curation
For beauty and fashion enthusiasts, Weibo offers insights into the latest trends and expert advice. Users turn to trusted bloggers for style inspirations and bookmark items that pique their interest.
Social News and Commentary
Weibo stands as a go-to platform for current events and social commentary. Users can stay informed about trending news topics and freely share their opinions, making it a lively forum for public discourse.
Users can document and share their personal experiences on the app, from daily routines to weekend adventures. Whether posting photos of new cafes or recounting weekend trips, users can explore and discover new things within their social networks.
Personal Brand Building
For influencers and professionals, Weibo offers a comprehensive toolkit for personal brand development, including analytics and paid features to maximize engagement. Users can post strategically based on audience feedback and even invest in post visibility, leveraging the platform as a critical element in their personal brand strategy.
What Do Users Like About Weibo?
Weibo is valued by users not just as a digital platform but as a personal journal, a connector of social circles, and a curator of diverse, quality content. Yuan Sheng encapsulates this sentiment: “Weibo allows me to record my feelings and insights at any moment… I can always keep track of my friends’ activities, bringing us closer; it filters information from industry leaders and the media, offering me a high-quality information feast.”
Jins likens Weibo to “a snack for mental breaks that accompanies you as you grow,” highlighting its role as a comforting and constant presence in users’ everyday lives. Whether users are browsing leisurely content, connecting with like-minded individuals, or documenting daily experiences, Weibo offers everyone a platform to weave their emotional tapestry.
Handel accentuates Weibo’s role in democratizing digital space: “It offers a platform for everyone, regardless of social status, pulling everyone onto the same plane. Here, you can see the lives, thoughts, and values of those you aspire to be like.”
On this inclusive platform, every voice finds an audience, every shared emotion resonates, and every story, regardless of origin, gains visibility and acknowledgment. XiaoYang adds a poetic touch, describing the experience as “singing freely in an empty theater, where there’s always someone you don’t know but who appreciates you suddenly taking a seat in the audience, genuinely happy and applauding for you.”
Key Differences Between X (formerly known as Twitter) and Weibo
Weibo’s user interface is organized into distinct sections, offering advanced formatting options for an enhanced user experience. The platform supports a wide array of content types, including videos, photos, polls, and music, and enriches interactions with over 400 animated emojis. Its features make it a more media-rich environment, allowing users to engage in multiple ways.
In contrast, the interface for X is more streamlined and formal, focusing primarily on text-based content and simplified media sharing, such as photos and videos.
Weibo boasts a user-friendly comment system that promotes effortless interaction with a single click. Users also enjoy the flexibility of mentioning others using the ‘@’ symbol within their comments. Moreover, Weibo offers a dual-purpose commenting feature: users can either post comments directly under a post or opt to share their comments as a repost on their own feed.
In contrast, X’s comment structure primarily places a user’s comment on their own timeline, lowering visibility within the original post’s thread. Furthermore, comments often get intertwined with unrelated threads, making it challenging to track and participate in specific conversation threads.
Weibo’s Discover page not only highlights trending topics and posts but also organizes them into specific categories such as entertainment, news, and popular searches. The platform further personalizes these trends by suggesting topics of interest based on the user’s previous interactions. This tailored approach facilitates easy navigation and enhances engagement with content most relevant to the individual user.
In comparison, X offers a more generalized set of trending hashtags and topics, which predominantly focus on news or brand-related discussions. Although X allows for some level of customization — primarily based on location and selected interests — it lacks a feature to categorize trending topics in a way that aligns with individual user preferences.
How Does Weibo Generate Revenue?
Weibo primarily generates revenue from advertising and marketing services and value-added services. In 2021 and 2022, advertising and marketing constituted around 87% of Weibo’s total revenue. The remaining was attributed to its value-added services including Weibo membership, content monetization, account operations services, e-commerce, and the Weibo wallet.
Weibo’s ad revenue primarily comes from two sources: platform-collaborated brand advertisements and content promotions by KOLs. Brand ads are strategically placed in prominent positions like the splash screen, trending topic search pages, and recommended feeds. These prime slots are typically utilized for brands announcing new ambassadors or launching new products. In contrast, KOL promotions involve brands collaborating with influencers, with Weibo taking a commission based on the influencer’s reach and influence.
Weibo membership offers a range of value-added services to individual Weibo users. It aims to provide exclusive privileges, including post edits, customization, functionality upgrades, and security, totaling over 30 special features. Users can purchase a Weibo membership within the app, with subscription options available monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. The longer the one-time subscription period, the more cost-effective it becomes.
Weibo offers features including Weibo Tips, where fans can make voluntary payments to the author after reading their content (typically blogs); Weibo Q&A, where influencers set a price for answering paid questions and others can view the answer for a fee; and Paid Reading, where content creator offers subscription-based access to their content. Weibo usually settles the subscription income with the author monthly and deducts a commission as a platform service fee.
Account Operations Services
Weibo offers operational monitoring, Data Assistant, and Fan Headlines in its suite of tools.
Weibo’s Data Assistant provides follower analysis, content analysis, interaction analysis, related account analysis, and custom time searches with data exports. Users can try it for free for 15 days, and afterward, can purchase the full version if needed.
The price for Fan Headlines, a powerful promotional tool launched by Weibo, depends on the number of active fans and the quality of the content. This cost is system-calculated, factoring in follower count and Weibo verification, excluding inactive followers. Posts with native links get discounts, with added reductions for membership users.
Weibo has launched the “Weibo Mini Shop”, providing users with a full set of shop management services. The main features include product management, business data services, and promotional information settings. Weibo Mini Shop typically charges a commission or a certain percentage of the transaction amount as a platform service fee, with the fee standards varying slightly for each third-party platform.
Weibo Wallet and Financial Products
Weibo Wallet is a lifestyle and financial service tool based on the Weibo platform. It covers financial services such as wealth management, loans, funds, and insurance. Similar to other payment services, Weibo Wallet charges a commission to use the service.
How Can Mobile Marketers Make the Most of Weibo?
Weibo remains an indispensable platform for brands eyeing product promotion. Several standout features set it apart for ambitious marketing:
Diverse Content Creators: Weibo’s ecosystem thrives with a multitude of content creators, from celebrities to niche KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders), KOCs (Key Opinion Consumers), and authenticated brand profiles. This variety offers brands a multifaceted marketing canvas.
Adaptable Content Formats: Weibo offers diverse content forms and tools, including text and photos to short and long videos. By continuously adapting to users’ content preferences, Weibo provides a foundation for brands to present their marketing campaigns in various formats.
Embedded Social Dynamics: Weibo’s innate social features make it an effective platform for content marketing. Activities such as commenting, sharing, and participating in discussions promote deep user interactions, making it easier for content to resonate with them.
What are Weibo’s advertising formats?
Trending Search List
Sitting below the search box on Weibo, the Trending Search List provides users with a glimpse of what’s hot at the moment. The third top search term slot is reserved for marketing, highlighted with a “recommended” tag.
Unlike the other top search terms, this spot isn’t part of the ranking competition. As users navigate this list, these keywords subtly entice them to click, directing them to a merchant’s search landing page. This landing page prioritizes essential brand information, optimizing for conversions. Typically, one would find brand posters, recommended accounts, and suggested Weibo posts on this page.
Tailored for precision, Weibo’s Search Promotion targets specific user groups based on certain keywords, ensuring a heightened marketing impact. What’s unique about this feature is its exclusivity: only one brand can claim a keyword at any given time, thereby securing a prime promotional spot all to itself.
This strategy proves invaluable when shaping narratives on trending topics, making it an essential tool for brand crisis management and image upkeep. Since it integrates seamlessly into the user’s browsing experience, it garners higher user acceptance and naturally encourages interaction and sharing. A click directs users to a landing page featuring recommended accounts, relevant homepages, and suggested Weibo posts. For brands, additional perks include brand posters and showcases.
Upon launching Weibo, the first visual users are greeted with is the splash screen ad, which prominently showcases brand promotional content. Catering to diverse marketing needs—from brand events and product debuts to celebrity endorsements—this essential feature supports four creative types and three interactive formats. Brands have the flexibility to utilize formats ranging from static images and GIFs to videos and engaging interactives, with the added advantage of regional targeting for precision marketing.
Fan Headlines pushes posts to both existing and potential fans by placing your content at the top of their feeds upon refreshing. This feature not only promotes visibility but also prevents potential limitations such as inaccessible links to platforms like Tmall or improperly displayed collaborations with celebrities.
Super Fan Pass
Super Fan Pass is one of Weibo’s most prominent advertising tools. This ad format offers an array of premium placements and is strategically presented to Weibo users based on specific criteria such as gender, age, location, and personal interests.
FullCoin streamlines the process of connecting advertisers with ideal celebrity influencers. Through tailored account suggestions and a convenient blog post proxy feature, it promotes native posts from KOLs or celebrities via the Super Fan Pass. This strategy leverages the credibility of KOLs and celebrities, boosting the content’s reach.
Designed especially for brands, Brand Express ensures robust exposure within the Weibo feed. Unlike other bid-based marketing methods, it guarantees prime visibility to the intended audience. Catering to an advertiser’s stylistic preferences, the tool offers an array of formats including image cards, video cards, focus image cards and a range of other interactive designs. This ensures brands maintain a consistent presence at peak user engagement times throughout the day.
Drawing inspiration from Snapchat and Instagram’s popular Story features, Weibo Stories are positioned at the top of the user interface, ensuring high visibility without being obtrusive. These Stories comprise content in the format of short videos, images, and GIFs of around 15 seconds. Their brief nature ensures users can quickly engage without committing much time, making it easier for brands to relay their message.
U Weibo Plan
Tailored to prioritize brand advertisers, the U Weibo Plan integrates with rich resources such as Alibaba. This collaboration aims to seamlessly blend social engagement with consumer experiences. Doing so aids advertisers in gathering data assets and streamlining the business process.
How to Create Viral Content on Weibo
Keep It Brief and Relatable
Composing Weibo captions? Less is more. In today’s age of skim reading, conciseness captures attention. Aim for posts that are succinct, ideally within 100-120 characters, never surpassing 140. Adopt a conversational tone to resonate with readers and convey your message effectively.
Essentials for 140-Character Posts
First Impressions Matter: The initial 40 characters of your post are the most critical. They set the tone and determine whether readers will continue or scroll past. Make them compelling.
Encourage Interaction: One proven technique is to conclude your post with a question. Not only does this invite readers to engage, but it can also lead to valuable discussions in the comments.
Structure for Clarity: When your post has multiple focal points or takeaways, consider listing them. This structured approach provides clarity and prevents your content from feeling cramped.
Each post should revolve around a central theme or message. This requires understanding your audience, the post’s objective, and its key takeaways. Highlight the theme by beginning with a relevant hashtag (#) to immediately signal your readers the core topic.
Leverage Trending Topics
Boost your content’s reach by aligning with trending discussions. Incorporating current hot topics and using strategic keywords can significantly elevate your post’s visibility on Weibo.
Enrich with Multimedia
Text is just one facet of what makes a Weibo post captivating. Augmenting your posts with rich media —be it images, videos, GIFs, or other interactive elements— can make them stand out in a crowded feed. Prioritizing high-quality, original content will amplify your Weibo account’s reach and influence.
Collaborating with KOLs on Weibo
Brands looking to maximize their Weibo campaigns should choose their KOLs smartly. Platforms such as XiGuaJi can help advertisers find top KOLs sorted by their influence index. But here’s a tip — keep an eye on your competitors. Knowing who they’re partnering with can help brands find their unique voice and avoid echoing similar messages. And a word of caution: avoid KOLs that lean too heavily into promotions; too much advertising can sometimes backfire, weakening audience trust.
There’s a growing affection for mid-level and niche influencers on the platform, and it’s easy to see why. Such users are known for genuine content and a closer bond with their followers. Partnering with KOLs is not just about who to collaborate with. Brands need a game plan. Think budgets and objectives, and use data analytics for precision. Open dialogue with KOLs is the key, letting them steer the content ship, given they know their audience inside out. And remember, building lasting relationships with these KOLs pushes competitors to the sidelines, boosts brand loyalty, and might even lead to sweeter deal terms in the long run.
Why Partnering with Nativex for Weibo Marketing is a Game-Changer
As one of China’s most popular social media platforms with a vast active user base, Weibo presents significant opportunities for marketers looking to tap into the Chinese market. For advertisers looking to start marketing on Weibo, get in touch with Nativex.
As an official Weibo Global Marketing Agency, we offer comprehensive expertise from media strategy and influencer marketing to ad campaign management, creative production, and social media optimization. Our tailored solutions resonate with your target audience on Weibo and effectively meet your objectives.
Want to learn more about different social media app marketing in China? Take a pick from our “what is” series on Bilibili, Xiaohongshu, Kuaishou, WeChat, and Douyin. You can also keep your eye on the blog for more updates as they happen.
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