Stephen Hawking published his first post on his verified Weibo account on the morning of 12 April 2016 recalling his deep friendship with China and hoping to share more about his life and work.
Right after publishing the first post, Mr. Hawking’s fans on Weibo is growing exponentially and exceeded 780 thousand in 3 hours. That particular one Weibo post attracted 140,00 re-posts, 130,000 comments, and over a quarter million likes. Mr. Hawkings got ONE MILLION fans on Weibo in less than 5 hours!
At the time of writing this post, Mr. Hawking’s first Weibo post received 370,404 retweets, 398,312 comments and close to ONE MILLION likes! His Weibo account has over 3 million fans, following no one at the moment.
Weibo had over 271 million monthly active users in March 2016 according to Quest Mobile, comparing with 707 million WeChat users.
This fast growth of online fans is not much a special case; and, many foreign marketers are aware of. However, many are blindsided by the popularity of WeChat (Weixin) in China. Most marketing directors and c-level executives from large corporations I talked to during the past year somehow have a perception that Weibo is dead; and, they lost interest utilizing this platform promoting their brand and products but WeChat.
The key is to understand the unique essential feature of the social networks.
WeChat is no doubt a more engaging platform compared to Weibo, considering the fact that most users’ friends on WeChat are their real life friends, colleagues and business associates. But, it is much of a closed social network; the main social networking feature is WeChat Moments. One could not even see all comments left on his/her friends Moments postings but only those comments left by common friends.
For companies to build a fan base on WeChat, WeChat Official Account is the right “weapon”. Major objectives of companies’ official accounts are customer marketing, products launch and O2O transformation. You can read more here and here.
Download: WeChat Online Marketing Guide
Weibo, in comparison, is much more of a open and public social network despite its lower level of engagement. It delivers reach. In general, it takes less efforts and much less time to reach the same number of user base on Weibo than WeChat. You can find out more about Weibo users here.
Understand what you are doing and where you are going first.
I had a quick consulting session in Shanghai this March at a Fortune 500 American company in B2B area on WeChat marketing. The person in charge wanted to develop a WeChat official account, just like many other companies. What was missing is the lack of social media strategy; and, personas development is a critical part of that, without which all efforts to put into WeChat official account development, content creation and engagement fans would lead to nowhere near that company’s bottom line.
On China social media, it’s important to understand the essential unique features of each platform, based on which you should develop a strategy that you can tie to your business long-term success.
Read more on Weibo and WeChat here.