Success on Weibo, Success in China
We’ve talked about Weibo here on our blog before – it’s only natural, seeing as we’re Chinese media and culture enthusiasts.
Fresh from a 3-month long campaign for one of London’s most significant visitor attractions, we thought we’d share some of our thoughts and findings:
1. Content Matters
‘Yeah, yeah’, you’re thinking to yourself, ‘of course they’d say content matters! They’re a content agency!’ but there’s no exaggeration here – it really does matter, and it matters a lot. The millions of Chinese netizens on Weibo are a discerning crowd, and they won’t follow, favourite or retweet any old thing. In fact, when Weibo first launched its sponsored posts advertising platform, the network was awash with user complaints. They weren’t upset about the advertising itself, however – just about viagra sans ordonnance
its quality and relevance! Putting effort into creating engaging, relevant content will yield results.
2. Quality Over Quantity (at first, anyway…)
When American basketball star Kobe Bryant first joined Weibo, his mere presence was enough to garner hundreds of thousands of followers within a few hours – all without saying one word. But we’re not all Kobe Bryant. The rest of us have to start slow and build up brand knowledge and recognition from scratch. This means that for a while, you might be staring at the ‘followers’ figure with a feeling of growing dismay. It takes time to get some momentum going and build follower numbers – in the meantime, focus on the quality of your posts and interactions with existing followers. You’ll see the views for each individual post go up and the followers you do have will be more inclined to recommend you to friends after meaningful engagement with you.
3. Engage with the people who matter
But plenty of quality content will only get you so far – think of it as the first step to establishing your presence. The next step is to reach out to others. Following the accounts of other Western businesses and personalities is a no-brainer, but they’re not the ones you’re marketing to. To get ahead you need to interact with KOLs: Key Opinion Leaders. These are the people with followers in the thousands and hundred-thousands – both real-life and internet celebrities. When they start interacting with you, it’ll get noticed. Reaching out to those with a natural interest in your business is preferable, because they want to talk to you too! Larger, co-ordinated marketing campaigns can benefit from engaging KOLs as brand ambassadors to spread the message far and wide – the cost will vary according to their fame and interests (for example, a super-famous luxury fashion blogger will cost much more than a hobby-blogger history enthusiast).
4. Paid-for Promotion
Paying KOLs to promote you is just one aspect of the many promotional options available. As in the west, PPC advertising is very popular in China and can yield some great results. Last year Weibo launched a sponsored posts system similar to Twitter’s, with promoted posts appearing in targeted follower’s news feeds and those of their friends. You pay per impression or engagement, with a flexible bidding and budget system. China’s biggest search engine, Baidu, offers a similar service, which is comparable to Google AdWords.
The simple reality is that to go the full distance in China and really build up your brand’s presence there, you need the reinforcement of paid-for advertising: your Weibo account is a part of a larger system. But it’s a very valuable one, so why not invest? It’ll be worth your while. At Rhubarb Fool, we’re always happy to advise you.
Header image courtesy of VisitBritain.