The Spring Tide of Weibo

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Posted At: September 13, 2013 11:30 a.m.
by Fanchu Meng

New media is a great opportunity for businesses to promote their services. Just like Twitter is already deeply ingrained in Western culture, Weibo has taken over China. As a Chinese citizen, I enjoy using Weibo in my spare time to connect with my friends and discuss trends in China.

Twitter quickly became one of most popular forms of social media and gained 200 million users in less than five years. Twitter is blocked in China, but Weibo, China’s microblogging platform, is exploding. Weibo consumes 90 percent of market shares of China’s microblogging services, expanding to more than 140 million users in less than two years.

The most commonly shared posts on Weibo are jokes, images and videos. Like Twitter, Weibo has earned unprecedented profits.

China Daily reports that marketing on Weibo is taking off in a very big way. Sixty-thousand accounts on Weibo are verified accounts for celebrities, sports stars and major brands. Chinese economist Ye Feng predicts that Weibo’s advertisement revenue will increase by 50 percent in the next year due to a growing market for brands and products that use promotions and videos.

“Until now, the top 100 ‘grassroot’ accounts have created profits of about 20 million yuan (about $3.3 million) from advertisements since they opened their accounts,” Feng told China Daily.

The success of Weibo is not an accident. One of Weibo’s most popular features offers microblogging users the ability to insert items like images, videos, music and emoticons.

Weibo has a dedicated page for trends called the “Board of Fame.” It provides several categories such as the hottest trends of the last hour, today and this week. In addition, another dedicated page, “Hall of Celebrity,” is used for highlighting celebrities.

Another unique feature is the micro topic, which is similar to the trending feature on Twitter. It was implemented by Weibo as a new concept in microblogging services. Weibo takes any post that is related to a certain topic and creates a unique page for all users to view and discuss.

For example, the Chinese government uses the micro topic feature to improve the relationship between Chinese citizens and government by promoting its “China Dream” campaign.

Popular blogger Isaac Mao told BBC that Weibo is a battleground for the official voices and the voices of civil society.

“Now, when someone in the central government wants to take action against a local government or some princelings (children of senior party leaders), they put the news directly on Weibo,” Michael Antia, a Chinese blogger and journalist, said. “If Weibo is a battlefield, the government seeks to occupy it, not destroy it.”

Weibo has become the voice of millions of Chinese citizens to offer suggestions on society’s challenges, such as human rights. Now, Weibo is playing an increasingly important role in the government’s public relations. The government can use Weibo for collecting public opinion and restoring trust in a crisis.

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