Weibo is a powerful microblogging site that has become a popular online marketing tool for Chinese businesspeople. Already, several major western brands have engaged on this site, with Coca-cola, Tourism Australia, Unilever, and Louis Vuitton making official accounts on Weibo. As these firms continue to launch marketing campaigns with the Weibo platform, Chinese users will be able to witness more integration and coordination between the brand and the microblogging site. Weibo experts note that these campaigns will take place through a re-branding strategy, rather than through direct promotional activities.
Weibo experts say that the recent development in Weibo’s marketing strategy will have a huge impact on upcoming brand promotions. “The increased engagement will help foreign brands to better integrate Weibo into the Chinese internet experience, while also helping them tap into Weibo’s enormous database of user base,” explains Joerg Zoep, head of global internet marketing at Deltoid, an Amsterdam-based Internet marketing consultancy. “In the past, brands would have to launch their marketing programs via channels that were already established within China, like Weibo, or through Chinese translation software and services.” With the new Weibo Marketing Platform, the process of communication will be simpler and more fluid, which should facilitate the effective marketing of a product on Weibo, they say.
One good example of a Chinese marketing campaign using Weibo is a tourism campaign launched by the travel industry’s leading brand, Expedia. In late August, Expedia launched its Weibo account, which allowed local travellers to interact with the brand, and get the latest updates on destinations and travel deals. According to an Expedia representative, the effort was designed to create “a one-of-a-kind forum between travellers and the brand,” and will allow users from China to post feedback and experiences, as well as receive information on promotions and travel deals.
This is just one example of how businesses are using Weibo as part of Weibo social media marketing in China, and one way of reaching out to the huge online community of China consumers. Another popular channel is the Weibo hashtags, which have been recently added to Twitter. The Weibo hashtags are used to discuss products, events, or anything that you feel may interest the Chinese audience. According to an Expedia representative, the Weibo hashtags can also be used to tweet about promotional offers or discounts for the brand. Whether using the Weibo hashtags or another form of Weibo interaction, the engagement level is going up because of the growing China-focused focus of the brand.
While the promotion of Weibo may seem like an off-the-wall strategy for a traditional business, it isn’t. According to a spokesperson from Deltoid, the company views Weibo as a strong partner as the Chinese Internet and culture continue to evolve. As China embraces the Western digital marketing campaign model, Weibo is looking to expand the available channel to reach a larger audience. By combining traditional channels with Weibo’s newly introduced social marketing campaign, the Chinese Internet is becoming an increasingly viable venue for advertising.
There are other Chinese social media outlets that are growing quickly in popularity. Facebook and Twitter are currently the most popular social media channels in China, and it is safe to assume that they will continue to increase in popularity in China, as well as globally. Deltoid also plans to expand Weibo in China by adding mobile apps, in addition to expanding the brand’s traditional brick and mortar channels. This type of marketing in the form of app-based engagement is becoming extremely popular among companies that have an ecommerce site in China, as well as brands that want to tap into the growing Chinese market. Whether the traditional channels of Weibo marketing or the more popular forms of Weibo social media marketing are working for your company, it is important to maintain a consistent marketing strategy regardless of whether you choose to advertise on Weibo itself, through its integrated social media channels, or even integrate the two into a single ad campaign.