How to use Weibo marketing for your China business strategy

Audiences in the Western countries may not be too familiar with Weibo, but it is a staggering success story in the field of social media and microblogging. Launched in 2009, it is one of the popular social media platforms in China, with 300 million registered users, 129 million user visits every month and a user presence across 190 countries. It is often referred to as the ‘Chinese Twitter’ and does resemble a mash-up between Twitter and Facebook in many ways. With such a vast audience, it also offers incredible opportunities for businesses to engage with potential customer audiences. Weibo marketing is one of the recommended marketing activities in China.

Great potential for international marketing in China

Chinese businesses are already mastering their targeted social media campaigns on Weibo and now Western businesses are looking at how they can access the vast Chinese market by incorporating Weibo into their digital marketing mix. Already, some large western brands are engaging on the site, with Coca-Cola, Tourism Australia, Unilever and Louis Vuitton creating official verified accounts on Weibo. These brands are viewing Weibo as a digital tool that will allow them to grow brand awareness in China, whilst gathering vital data and insights into Chinese people, their customs, needs, preferences and wants.

Vital steps to positioning your brand on Weibo

So how can you use it to market your products and services in China?

1. Create an official verified account to position your brand and product offer on the platform.
2. Create an engaging content strategy that incorporates media rich content such as videos and pictures. Use these messages to deliver value to the viewer – ideas, aspirations, humour, news, promotions and so forth. Market your own messages and position your products, but in a way that always provides meaning and value to the end user.
3. Invest in a targeted onsite advertising campaign.
4. Develop blogs and articles – using guest bloggers and influencers where possible – to create engagement.
5. Commit to growing your presence, responding to comments, posting regular content and being active and visible on the site. Success will come after time, energy and the delivery of an excellent digital engagement strategy.

The Lancome case study

Lancome, the French beauty brand, is a good case study for successful social media marketing in China. It has used Weibo extensively to build up its Chinese market position and creates hashtags for specific campaigns linked to beauty, style and the use of its products. Many of the brand’s posts will receive hundreds of reposts and comments. Unilever follows a similar strategy but promotes its corporate social responsibility strategy as well as promotions and product launches.

Know your audience

The most important aspect of getting social marketing in China correct, however, is to know and understand the audience. Understanding the mechanics of the technology and the fundamentals of a good digital marketing campaign is one thing, but it is a mistake to think that a campaign approach which has worked in the West will automatically translate with the same results to a similar demographic in China. Local knowledge, insights, data and analysis of the market and its segments are key. Audiences must be carefully understood and user profiles created so that Western brands can picture a typical target end user when seeking to engage on Weibo. A specialist Chinese online marketing agency can provide rapid and expert access to the data and insights that will help to create a successful marketing campaign and can act as a valuable partner forWestern brands looking to extend their business into this exciting high-growth market.

Image source: Weibo