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MARKETING: Building brand Recognition with Weibo
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Building brand Recognition with Weibo

By Justin Toy


BT 201506 23 Marketing 1Weibo ( 微博)is a Chinese micro blogging site that is a hybrid of both Twitter and Facebook. The site has over 600 million users. 176 million of those are active on Weibo on a monthly basis and 61.4 million are active on a daily basis. Weibo users represent an appealing demographic that is very young (82 percent being born after 1980) and educated (80 percent having at least a high school degree).


Like Twitter, Weibo allows you to post short messages of up to 140 Chinese characters. Weibo also allows for threaded comments, embedded multimedia, hash tag topics, instant messaging, location check-ins, online polling, emoticons, and built-in analytics. Wechat and Weibo are the two largest social media sites in China. According to McKinsey and Company, one of the top global consulting firms, "social media has a greater influence on purchasing decisions for consumers in China than for anywhere else in the world." No matter what size your company is, creating a presence on social media sites such as Weibo and WeChat is a cheap and easy way to build brand recognition and drive sales in China. Below are a few tips for getting started with Weibo.

BT 201506 22 Marketing DifferencesGet Verified

When creating a Weibo account you can either create a verified corporate account or an individual (unverified corporate) account. Verifying a corporate account is quite easy, all you need to do is register a new account and then verify your phone number and email address. The main benefit of having a verified account is that you can build a trustworthy relationship with your followers. Your account will have a blue "V" signifying that it has been verified by Sina Corporation (the creators of Weibo). This way, consumers can be rest assured that your site is genuine, not a clone or a rip-off. In addition, having a verified account gives you access to more features including in-depth web analytics and a higher degree of design customization.


BT 201506 25 Marketing Boxing Cat Brewery ShanghaiCreating Content

The content that you produce and transmit from Weibo should aim to increase brand awareness in China. At the same time, your Weibo marketing strategy should be tailored to your target audience and their unique sharing habits on Weibo. Weibo users are generally willing to share or "retweet" branded posts with their followers. Just make sure that the content you produce aligns with your followers' expectations and desires. Nike's Weibo strategy involves offering branded badges and prizes to users who retweet products and events.

Your content strategy should include messages and information about things that are important to your followers, anything else should be left out. For example, a fashion company should post topics about style, fashion shows, celebrity fashion, luxury goods, etc. and stay away from topics that are vaguely relevant. Your marketing copy should be humorous, witty, and include different kinds of multimedia. At the same time, you should keep an eye on what is trending around the nation/world and adjust your content accordingly. A great example was a post made by Durex, the British condom maker, after a flash flood in Beijing back in the summer of 2011. Public transportation was flooded and disabled in the capital city. For a number of hours, office workers were stuck in their offices, sitting at the computers while waiting for the public transportation to get back up and running. During this time, Durex posted an idea for people to use their condoms as shoe covers in order to keep them dry. The post reached legendary status as it ended up being retweeted over 50 million times!

BT 201506 21 Marketing HLBuilding Your Fan Base

Increasing the number of your followers is one of the most important parts of social media marketing, regardless of platform. However, Weibo is known to have a high degree of "zombie" accounts (as isTwitter), empty accounts that are used for the purpose of "follower farming." Some users and even companies will pay for followers, especially just after setting up their account in order to appear popular. However, your number of followers isn't the only important metric to track. You should also consider the quality of your followers, average number of comments, average retweets, and percentage of Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs).

KOLs are users with hundreds of thousands of followers who are highly influential on Weibo and can help leverage your marketing message through their influence. They are especially important for retweets and generating impressions and followers. Individuals who are KOLs have been verified and can easily be identified by a capital "V" which will appear after their name. An orange "V'" indicates that the user is an individual while a blue "V" indicates the user is part of a group (company, organization, media, etc.) It can be beneficial to reach out to these influential individuals and try todevelop a relationship with them. Offering them free samples or trials might work or you might have to spend some money to "make friends" with them.

BT 201506 23 Marketing Verified

Reply to Comments

Replying to your followers'€™ comments is a great way to interact with your fans and to keep them engaged. It also helps make your organization feel more personable while at the same time showing respect to your audience. Of course, if you have thousands of comments on a single post, it would be impractical to try and reply to all of them. Reply selectively, paying particularly close attention to comments from KOLs, negative comments, questions, and funny connections other users are commenting about. When replying to negative comments (or any comments for that matter), make sure to do so in a courteous and professional manner. Never reply in an angry or annoyed tone. A poorly answered comment is worse than not replying at all.


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