So we’ve been running a number of campaigns across Sina Weibo for a variety of clients; doing so requires us to be somewhat knowledgeable of how to strategize, plan, and optimize Weibo for brands.
Now while this sort of thing is regularly covered in our company blog, I figured I’d post it here partly for those of you unfamiliar with that resource, and partly to knock off the rust built round my fingers from months spent not blogging. That’s what I like to call a “win-win”.
So.. what’s a “Weibo”? In short, it’s China’s “Twitter”, though enhanced in many ways making it a better overall offering (details here) combining elements of Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Groupon. Weibo is pretty hot right now, and it’s poised to create a unique network specifically attuned to Chinese online behavior. Whether that happens or not is up in the wind.. so before we speak of the future, lets discuss for a few moments the present.
Now the above is kinda sorta interesting. When you look at the top brands sorted by number of followers, we get several telecom companies, banks, and UC browser which is a mobile browser specifically for “shanzai” (copy/fake) cell phones, which is apparently quite popular in China.
But this data doesn’t tell the full story.. however with a bit of coaxing, prodding and tweaking we can get it to entertain us with a story or two. Let’s do a few simple tweaks and see what we can see.
When we organize the data by active users (defined by: 1. at least 100 followers, and 2. posted something in the last 7 days), then we get a different picture.
So instead of misc. banks and telecoms, now we’re seeing brands like GoTone (yes still telecom, but a younger “cooler” version), Nokia, Zara, Adidas, Starbucks, Harbour City etc. (disclaimer: Starbucks is a Resonance China client).
Tweaking the data a bit again, we see that Starbucks (76%), Adidas (65%), and Zara (62%) are leading with % active followers.. which when multiplied against their total followers gives us a sense of each account’s true reach.
This is interesting.. cause we’re not seeing any celebs or whatever.. what we’re seeing is big brands appealing to a broad consumer base. These brands have managed to collect a database of semi-influential Chinese netizens most active and participating online.
Now this can be for a number of reasons,
- 1. these brands are somehow able to collect netizens already active.. or..
- 2. they make those collected engage more.
Which is right? This reminds me of some theory I heard about Harvard – whether it created successful people, or was just really good at attracting people who were going to be successful anyway.. which when you think of it is similar to the nature vs. nurture issue.. things are never black and white; so while we’re a product of our genes and our environment, and Harvard grads are a product of what they had before and what they got during, China’s netizens following these brands likely were digitally engaged previously, but through the brand’s meticulously managed campaigns have had their digital experience enhanced and improved on situation previous.
Does that sound plausible?.. I’m going to assume.. you said.. “yes”.
Collision of Technology and Culture.
One question racing through the minds of those who can read the tiny little letters in the above pictures may be “what is Meitu Xiu Xiu, and why does it have the most active followers on Sina Weibo?”
Well this is also pretty interesting and speaks volumes toward China’s online culture. Meitu Xiu Xiu sort of translates to “make your pictures beautiful”. The site features a software that Chinese can use to quickly photoshop images.. this is most popularly used by young Chinese girls tweaking their pics to look pretty:
A software program specifically made to tweak pictures is the top actively followed account on China’s hottest social network.. what pray tell does this portend? Conjecture leads us to a few assumptions:
- 1. Chinese tend to spend more of their lives online than the West, to the point where software that helps them to express (or cover) their digital selves becomes the top actively followed account on China’s top microblog.. or..
- 2. Meitu Xiu Xiu has collected a database of followers most likely to create waves upon waves of user-generated content for any brand campaign looking to do so, or..
- 3. Universally perception is (or gradually becomes) reality.. and with digital, even more so. Anytime you dig, dig from several directions, cause one side is always different from the other. Or you can just use statistics cause they always tell the truth. Always.
Was it good for you too?
So that was a brief, not totally boring tour through the top echelons of Sina Weibo. Should you use Weibo? Perhaps. Should you use Weibo in your campaign? Probably. Do you like lukewarm answers to serious questions? Depends.
I find when you drill down far enough, you’ll always find “maybes”.. there really aren’t simple yeses and noes, though we all certainly wish there were. Fortunately, balancing this sobering fact is another universal truth: the answer is always out there.. you’re just gonna have to bleed a bit before you find it. Hmm.. no, that one was sobering too.
How about this: a few resources to begin the search for answers you didn’t know you wanted:
[Audible sigh of relief]
There, I blogged, pitched my company, and attempted to funnel you into one of three databases so I can spam you with corporate messaging in the future.