If you want get an idea of which major brands are doing what in China with Sina Weibo, the front-runner in microblogging in that country, AdAge.com has a compelling feature that highlights what Starbucks and many other consumer brands are doing in tapping into China’s online culture and connecting with people on their terms:
[…] Starbucks is the "clear leader," [digital marketing consultant Eugene Chew] said. "They were one of the first to go into location-based [marketing], one of the first to go into weibo. Not only do they bring out lots of coupons and deals which fans love, but they ask interesting questions, they thank and reward fans, so it’s a genuine two-way relationship and their tone and manner are very much like your friendly neighborhood cafe vs. a brand talking to a mass of consumers."
The AdAge piece is very good indeed in its assessment of the current landscape in China for weibo – which means ‘microblog’ in Chinese – and its highlights of cultural differences in China. I especially like this descriptor:
"Chinese are famously generous to their friends and family, anyone in their social circle, but notoriously unsympathetic to strangers. Weibo is all about the interior. It’s like a massive karaoke room."
If you’re trying to understand the Chinese online marketing landscape, this article will help you. The gold, though, comes in Thoughtful China: Working With Weibo, a 15-minute video that is well worth your time watching. It will give you a clear sense of weibo and Sina Weibo in particular.
(If you don’t see the video embedded above, watch it at YouTube.)
If you can’t watch it right now, here’s a starter explanation of Sina Weibo from AdAge:
[…] While other digital companies, including Tencent, offer weibo, which means microblog in Chinese, Sina’s is by far the biggest service, with over 200 million registered users who send out up to 75 million messages daily.
[…] Sina Weibo goes far beyond Twitter. The microblog allows private groups, threaded comments that better enable personal conversations, polls, games, apps, e-commerce, search, photos and streaming audio and video, "enterprise pages" that feature brands and group-buying services. The most-popular user, actress Yao Chen, has 12.5 million followers.
Sina Weibo even has its own currency called the weibi and a "light blogging" side service for users who produce original content and want extra space to post multiple pictures, audio and video files, and text with unrestricted length. And the company announced plans earlier this year for an English-language version of Sina Weibo, although that hasn’t happened yet.
If China looms on your marketing horizon, information like this is need-to-know.