How Western brands get the most out of Weibo marketing

With Twitter and Facebook both banned in China domestic social networks enjoy a huge user base. As with Western social networks, many brands have been quick to realise the potential offered by Weibo marketing. We take a look at the ways four Western brands have gotten the most from Weibo marketing in China.

Coca-Cola Weibo campaign

The global drinks giant has certainly had a lot of success with Chinese social media. The 2013 campaign saw the company allowing users to pay for delivery of a customised bottle featuring characters of their own choosing with the Weibo wallet payment feature. By getting celebrities and key opinion leaders to upload pictures of themselves with their customised bottles, and encouraging users to do the same, Coca-Cola used Weibo marketing to harness word-of-mouth marketing which saw its message carried far across virtual space. The result was that by the fourth day of the campaign the time to sell out 300 bottles had fallen from one hour to just one minute (source: China Internet Watch).

World of Warcraft Weibo competition

With online gaming being a big hit in China it is hardly surprising that one of the biggest Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) in the world has a Weibo account. In 2013 it was the sixth most popular account amongst student users (source: China Internet Watch). In order to create excitement for the latest expansion using social media marketing in China, Warlords of Draenor, World of Warcraft started a contest in which fans who posted pictures of themselves dressed as their favourite characters from the game could win early access to the latest instalment. The competition’s chosen hashtag reached more than 8 million users within just three days of the competition being launched (source: Kotaku).

Harrods Weibo O2O campaign

In 2013 Harrods leveraged the power behind its iconic brand to provide a Christmas giveaway aimed both at Chinese tourists visiting the UK and the wider Weibo community. Using its famous ‘green men’ at the centre of the Weibo marketing campaign, the retailer created a present hunt inside their store which Chinese users could follow in real life and on Weibo. Users who found all three presents in-store had to post pictures of themselves with the gifts for a chance to win luxury prizes (source: Jing Daily). This online-to-offline  (O2O) campaign used the store’s highly valued brand to personalise an otherwise standard social media giveaway.

BMW Single’s Day Campaign

Sense of humour – when used correctly and most of all appropriately – always goes down well when social media marketing in China. BMW used this to tie in their products with the highly popular ‘Single’s Day’ – a Chinese custom rather like the opposite of Valentine’s Day, in which Chinese people splash their cash on a present for themselves. BMW’s ‘Single’s Day’ campaign featured a mock advert for a special ‘Single’s Edition’ of the BMW 5 series – a car featuring only one front seat, with the steering wheel located in the centre. This clever campaign used humour to tie BMW’s cars into a popular national holiday, allowing the company to cash in on a day where the Chinese people spend the equivalent of billions of dollars each year (source: Ogilvy).


(Image source: Image created by cooldesign |