How to Leverage Weibo for B2B Marketing in China
Sina Weibo, founded in 2009, has been recognized as the “Chinese Twitter” by the western world. As a microblogging site, users can share the posts of up to 140 Chinese characters and attach videos or photos. They can also follow other users, celebrities, businesses, government services, and so on.
In China, Sina Weibo is a primary channel for users to gain information, read news, and discover interesting stories.
With 340 million monthly active users, Weibo is one of the top social platforms in China. In my previous post, I have discussed how Weibo is very different from two other popular Chinese social platforms – QQ and WeChat, which serve as instant messaging tools and connect users with others they know.
Weibo is more like a self-publishing tool for broadcasting to the public.
For companies, Weibo provides valuable opportunities to engage and communicate with a target audience. However, there are more than 1.3 million enterprise accounts on the channel.
Facing such fierce competition, how can B2B marketers effectively leverage Sina Weibo to further marketing efforts in China? This post provides six tips.
Understanding Weibo Users
Before you dive into marketing activities on Weibo, marketers need to understand who uses Weibo and gain insight on usage behaviors. Research shows that the majority of enterprise account followers are Millennials. Additionally, the primary purposes users open Weibo are for reading news, following interesting content, and learning useful information.
Identifying Target Audience & Industry Leaders
To effectively speak to a target audience, B2B marketers need to understand where they are and what their interests are.
Weibo has a search feature that is very valuable for identifying target audiences and industry leaders. At the beginning of building a Weibo community, marketers can use search to identify users who may be interested in a corporate Weibo account to start to make connections with them.
By searching on Weibo, marketers can get relevant results for people, posts, interests, and images. Under the category of interests, one can also see subcategories covering books, topics (identified by hashtags), places, applications, and music.
For example, when I search for Marketing on Weibo, I got a list of diverse results as the following screenshot shows.
Creating Engaging Content
While keeping Weibo usage and a target audience’s interests in mind, the next step is creating content. Weibo has tagged accounts and topics divided into various categories. B2B marketers can visit the page of topics and see the trending topic in each category.
The tagged categories are helpful to identify thought leaders to follow and prospects to engage. Also, it offers valuable insight for creating engaging, helpful, and on-trend content that people want to learn and share.
Sharing text with an image is the most typical way people use Weibo. Since the picture is attractive to viewers and can be searched on Weibo, including an image with posts is important.
Having an SEO mindset is essential to success on Weibo. For example, if you have created an infographic, a new report or a white paper to publish, remember to include appropriate keywords in the post, along with the image, so people can easily search (and find) this content.
Just like Twitter, hashtags are important for Weibo. A slight difference is that hashtag on Weibo is signified by “# #” instead of one #.
As I mentioned above, topics can be found on Weibo, and they are identified with hashtags. When using a trending or popular hashtag, the post will have a better chance of being seen since it belongs to a certain topic. It will be a useful way to earn fresh views and new followers.
Moreover, users can apply to be the host of certain topics.
For example, the topic of Social Media Marketing is hosted by the Cun Fu Zhangxiaolong. As illustrated in the following screenshots, there are 431 posts, and half a million views on this topic. Anyone who views this topic will see the Weibo profile of Cun Fu Zhangxiaolong; this visibility can help him be seen as an influencer on this topic, and gain a higher possibility of attracting more followers.
It’s not difficult to be the host of a particular topic – B2B marketers only have to consistently publish one post per week with the specific hashtag. If there is any popular topic or keyword in the industry isn’t hosted by anyone yet, it might be smart to grab the opportunity :-).
Verifying The Weibo Account
Unlike Twitter, which considers all users the same, Weibo has regular users, verified individual users (identified with an orange V icon), organizations and companies (identified with a blue V icon), and paid VIP members with extra features.
For B2B companies, verifying the business has multiple benefits. First, a blue V icon will enhance credibility and improve the trustworthiness of the pages. Why? Because a verified account requires legal business documents submitted and reviewed. It will help attract target audiences more easily as well as gain trust.
Second, a verified account has special user features covering from setting up, publishing post, to accessing analytics data. It gives verified users a higher authority to make their profiles more attractive, and more flexibility in account management. Furthermore, Weibo will rank the relevant content of verified users higher.
Finally, Weibo will tag all verified users into different categories, such as Hall of Fame, Media, Brand, Website, Campus, and Agency. Particularly for B2B companies, being verified and categorized gives increased visibility with a target audience and greater opportunity to interact with industry professionals.
Measuring your Results & Mining into the Data
Similar to Twitter, Weibo provides a detailed account analysis data for each account. The main metrics include the number of followers, interaction data, views, the number of posts, and the number of articles shared?. Moreover, marketers can also see some fun facts about them, such as how they found the account, the percentage of verified users and non-verified, gender, age, location, and even asterisms.
Besides regular account data analysis, Weibo also provides a complete data center for Weibo account management. Users can find hot topics that people are discussing, the trend of a certain word and its usage by geographic location and demographics, various reporting data covering brands, media, website, and usage of Weibo. These valuable insight tools should be used by B2B marketers to conduct competitive and consumer analysis.
In recent years, WeChat has gotten a lot of attention by Western B2B marketers looking to enter into China. However, it’s important to keep in mind that Weibo can serve different goals and reach different groups of people
As Weibo is growing, we can expect that there will be more business accounts appearing on this social platform, and with it increased competition. We hope you can use the above six tips to get started on Sina Weibo. Building a strong Weibo profile and an engaging community will need patience, consistency, and perseverance. Of course, you are very welcome to contact us to seek the professional help or just chat with us about your thoughts or concerns!