The Definitive Guide to Weibo Advertising

The Definitive Guide to Weibo Advertising

Sina Weibo (新浪微博), often simply called ‘Weibo’, is one of the biggest social media platforms of China. ‘Weibo’ literally means ‘micro-blog.’ Weibo advertising holds huge potential for the few foreign businesses that have utilized it

Let’s see some numbers:

  • 605 million monthly active users, with 260 million being active daily (source)
  • 51 percent male users, 49 percent female users (source)
  • 82 percent of Weibo users shop online (source)
  • 94 percent use the mobile app to access Weibo (source)

Sina Weibo now boasts over 500 million active monthly users, it is known as ‘China’s Twitter’ but is actually a far more effective platform in terms of advertising opportunity for foreign brands than its western counterpart.

Including a Sina Weibo marketing component to your Chinese social media marketing strategy is a great way to build a trustable following, promote your business and engage directly with a large, active community of potential consumers in the most targeted way. Ultimately the goal is to drive conversions & sales.

For intelligent, targeted marketing, Weibo is the best option for brands in terms of ROI & focused exposure to the best market demographic.

Planning to expand your business through Weibo Advertising? Not sure how to get started? Here is a complete guide to Weibo advertising and its amazing benefits that can boost your business.

1. Weibo Advertising Models

Fan Tunnel  (FENSETONG-粉丝通)

Fan Tunneling in Weibo is the best way to reach new customers and followers in large numbers. With this Weibo advertising strategy, you can either promote a single post or your account. It is similar to a Fan Headline (see next paragraph), which appears on top of the news feed on the user’s account.

This method is very effective for new brands when they lack followers. It focuses on the whole Weibo community and not only on your existing followers.

Fan Headlines (FENSE TOUTIAO-粉丝头条)

This is an interesting option with Weibo advertising that focuses on targeting existing followers and their connections. Here, your post or account will be highlighted at the top news feed of your followers and their other relevant connections. It helps in re-sharing content and boosts your visibility among your followers.

Fan Headlines help in targeting followers and their connections, which attract other followers in greater numbers.

Fan Headline for Posts (博文头条),

The price for a “Fan Headline for Posts” varies greatly according to your follower base; the more followers you have, the more expensive it is.

Fan Headline for Others’ Posts (帮上头条)

Fan Headline for Others’ Posts is similar to the previous one, except it puts another user’s post at or near the top of their followers’ feeds. You can use this function to promote an influencers’ post related to your brand.

Fan Headline for Accounts (账号头条)

Weibo Search Engine Promotion

Weibo serves as a smart platform with its inbuilt search function that enables browsing accounts, fan pages, and posts. Weibo Marketing offers an effective way to boost visibility to users making target keyword searches. It is the best platform to boost quality traffic on your account. Weibo Search Engine Promotion focuses on increasing your account visibility.

When it comes to Weibo advertising cost, its pricing depends upon the popularity and the competitiveness of the keywords you’re using for promotions. When users hit the search bar, your account will be displayed on the top list result page.

The major benefit is that when the search results highlight hot topics and trending news, your account will be seen alongside them. This will increase your account’s visibility and reputation.

Display Advertisements

Despite being a traditional method in online marketing, display adverts are still effective. They come with multiple dimensions depending on the web and mobile version. When the user clicks on the ad, they are directed to the advertising homepage.

With Weibo, you get a targeted approach with selected keywords for more visibility on user searches. It also allows you to display adverts on other featured accounts to increase advertising.

2. Use Demographic Targeting

Many advertisers want to advertise more accurately and like to set up more than one of the targeting features.

Weibo offers a variety of targeting options, including:

  • Age, gender and geographic region
  • Interest & hobbies  ( IT, food & drink, health, education etc.)
  • Device  ( Desktop, mobile, tablet)
  • Follower Relationship
  • Competitors list

You can even target the Weibo Account directly. Usually, an account with a large community gets a Special Verification, which is a “V-verified account” stamp near the account picture. You can decide to target these accounts during your marketing campaign to be sure to reach a wider community of fans.

Timing Targeting is also very important: Weibo users, generally use the platform, in the morning rush hour and in the evening rush hour. You can choose to run your ad during these two time periods.

3. The Buyer Persona

The user attribute of Weibo determines that most of the content on Weibo are related to entertainment. About 80% of users on Weibo are 17 to 33 years old. The main purpose of their use of Weibo is not to learn or retrieve information but to simply relax and see new things. If they see a new thing they like of course they want to find an immediate and trustable buying-channel. In most cases, Taobao is this channel.

70% of the users belongs to second, third and fourth tier cities in China.

This is the real potential of Weibo; using this platform you can target Chinese Cities and regions that have high-spending possibilities.

At the moment FENSETONG-粉丝通 advertising penetration can be roughly divided into three categories:

O2O, e-commerce, and App. O2O and e-commerce need not say much; the platforms are able to offer great advantages in terms of promotion and lead generation.

The App promotion in Weibo is losing traction and IT companies are using Douyin(抖音) and other social platforms to reach better brand-awareness results。

4. Payment Models

Weibo Fan Connect offers two different pricing models:

CPM – Cost per thousand impressions.

Only blog posts promotion can choose CPM.

CPE – Cost per engagement. Likes, forwards/retweets, clicks and comments all count as interactions.

CPE can be selected as the billing method for all three promotion forms in FENSETONG-粉丝通.

How do you choose between two billing methods?

Our approach at AICY is usually to test both early on and then choose the one that performs better. That being said, we usually go with CPM, because we’re almost always able to get a higher than average engagement rate.

We recommend to advertisers do a small experiment at the beginning of the launch (Ad-Beta-Test). Build a set of CPM and CPE plans under the same ad group, and compare the actual results in one day. In general, the CPE method is easier to control the conversion cost, but when the interaction rate is higher, the interaction cost of the CPM method is lower and the ROI will be higher.

Due to the time period, the nature of the industry, etc., the bidding level will fluctuate and you need to keep monitoring the ad statistics.

To charge users, FENSETONG-粉丝通 determines the cost based on the exposure of the ad and the number of interactions as stated in the Weibo reports, including clicked links, favored posts, new followers and favorites. To stop yourself from overspending, set a daily budget. Once your budget limit is reached for the day, Weibo will stop your advertising services until the next day.

5. Ad Design and Competitors’ Analysis

Ad Design and Competitors’ Analysis

The marketing team within the company can set the keywords and time for the Ad-Targeting according to the characteristics of its products and services. A deep approach to the ad-targeting setting also allows you to explore the competitor’s marketing strategy to optimize your ad strategy:

When setting the ad delivery plan, the system will recommend 50 similar accounts based on your account industry information by default. These 50 accounts are generally excellent in terms of relevance and fan activity. In addition, companies can also manually add competitors’ Weibo accounts. After identifying the competitors list, companies can randomly sample interactive users’ data from each of their Weibo homepages, and count the gender, age, geography, mobile devices, and interactions of these users, time and other information. Therefore, it is possible to roughly know which keywords the other party has voted on, and which time periods have been mainly placed. The company can then determine its own delivery strategy accordingly.

Posts on FENSETONG-粉丝通 will be at the top of user’s newsfeeds. You will be able to promote a post for seven days (basically how long before the post is no longer considered newsworthy) and that same post will only be shown once to each user. Weibo recommends that advertisers promote multiple posts at a time to ensure their posts reach maximum exposure among Weibo users and the content remains fresh.

Under FENSETONG-粉丝通 bidding mechanism, high-quality promotional content not only allows companies to win auctions with lower bids; at the same time, good content itself can also lead to higher conversion rates, so companies can choose a cheaper CPM way to advertise, and greatly reduce costs while achieving the same promotion goals.

Optimizing promotion content is mainly a two-part work. First, the optimization of copywriting and images, it is necessary to set the promotion content according to the user scene, thereby improving the interaction rate and conversion rate. Copywriting and images are at the heart of the promotional content and require a marketing team with the ability to pass the company.

Second is optimizing links and landing pages, using the two factors.

  1. the link jump step should be as simple as possible
  2. the floor landing page should be accurate

Try to be your own official website instead of the third-party application center or media platform.

6. Set your Marketing Goals

  • Set your Advertisement Goals
  • Run your Ad
  • Check Analytics
  • Re-iterate

When it comes to why and how to advertise on Weibo, you should be very clear with your intended goal. Creating an official account and creating a follower base won’t help if you don’t have a clear vision. If you want to ensure good ROI, combine marketing with other important factors like visibility, branding, reputation building, and a proper sales infrastructure.

Weibo marketing actually plays an important role in increasing your online sales in China. Being a powerful social connector, it works in combination as a social-commerce platform. This allows you to have a fair chance to be active with sales and branding and engaging with the consumer’s prospects and comments.

Ad Goals :

Gaining Followers: Expanding your follower base will make your message more trustworthy, by reaching out to a wider audience.

Boosts Engagement: By promoting your Weibo posts, you want to get more likes, comments, and reposts of your content. More engagement means more authority, which in most cases leads to more sales.

Brand awareness: Obscurity is your main problem in China. You need to build Visibility and Reputation.

7. Make sure you’re ready to interact

Weibo ads are likely to generate a lot of conversation! Make sure your team is ready to interact with fans daily (24h).

Respond to comments & private messages quickly and if you’re selling online, be ready to speak with potential buyers in real-time, both on Weibo and on the website/platform you’re selling on.

8. Prize Campaigns on Weibo

Weibo has a prize campaign function built in. At AICY we’ve mainly used it in two ways:

  1. Tiny campaigns where we giveaway virtual items. It only costs a few hundred Yuan and we tend to get a few thousand extra followers. Follower quality is low compared to followers earned through more targeted advertising or organic marketing.
  2. Campaigns with bigger prizes that are related to the brand.

These are Creative Campaigns, created according to the organizer’s needs and goals. The budget mainly depends on the prizes the organizer has for the winners.

System Campaigns use Weibo’s system with formats and rules developed by the Weibo team. There are 5 major formats of system campaign for you to choose from:

  1. Lucky Roulette Campaign: This uses an instant lottery format with a variety of prizes.
  2. Flash Sales Campaign: It’s similar to the Lucky Roulette Campaign but better suited to e-businesses or O2O marketing.
  3. Repost Campaign: This type of campaign encourages audience members to repost by giving prizes to selected reposters. It has a reputation for achieving the best marketing results.
  4. Content Collection Campaign: This encourages the audience to post original content by means of prize incentives. The winners can choose the prizes.
  5. Free Trial Campaign: Brands choose participants to receive a free trial. This approach is best when launching a new product. Brands can also gather meaningful feedback if they ask participants to answers certain questions to enter the draw.

9. Weibo Advertising Case Study

How Durex Uses Weibo to Win The Chinese Market

Durex-Durex is the trademarked name for a range of condoms that used to be made by a British company, SSL International and is the most popular condom brand in the world. The brand entered the Chinese market in 2007 and became the top condom company within two years. By leveraging Chinese social media platforms and investing in offline and online distribution, Durex condom sales increased threefold in China and market share increased by over 10%.

Durex focuses on developing and delivering creative content to keep their audience engaged. With high-quality creative content, Brands can grow their customer base and increase the ROI of their marketing programs.

Durex created a fictional character called Little Dudu, to interact with fans and respond to the comments with its powerful social tone of voice which is playful, fun and entertaining which makes the brand stand out with authentic conversations.

Durex also integrated Weibo with other platforms including Renren, 荔枝FM, Youku and e-commerce platforms to align quality and business objectives.

Hero photo by Diem Nhi Nguyen on Unsplash

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Brizzo is an expert on Chinese Social Media and Personal Branding.
He is the Co-Founder of AICY Create, a leading marketing agency based in China, with expertise in Personal Branding and China Digital Marketing.

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