Being the Chinese hybrid of Facebook and Twitter, Weibo is becoming not only a popular social community, but also a powerful digital communication and marketing channel, especially for enterprises planning to enter the China market. With an estimated of 600 million registered users and 198 million active users in China, it provides enterprises with great opportunities to increase their exposure in China and bring in potential customers. But first thing first, you need followers. Getting people follow an unfamiliar account is never easy, not to mention their long-term attention on you. By following these seven tips, you will get the basic steps to attract more followers, and learn how to engage and keep them as well.
1. Set-up Your Account
The first step to start is opening an account for your brand. Anyone can register an account on Weibo, just follow the online instructions to fill in relevant information, which can be done in English. Weibo provides account verification service, which costs around $4,000 for Hong Kong companies. You’ll need official documents such as business registration certificate in order to register. With a “V” icon besides the account name, your verified account would look more credible and professional to the audience.
2. Create Valuable Content
Content is always the key to boost your popularity. Your contribution to the audience determines who you are, gives reasons why people should follow you and convinces them why you are so important to them. So, create your own value. Compose original posts and articles sharing useful information. Inspire people with new concepts. Astound them with interesting statistics. Also, make sure that your posts go straight to the point and are fun to read, because audience nowadays face tons of information every day and do not have time and patience to read something long and boring! One thing to note, althought all settings are in English, if you want to reach Chinese audience, it’s better to make the content in simplified Chinese.
3. Invite first batch of followers within existing network
After generating certain amount content, it’s time to acquire followers. You can always “buy” some followers for instance from Taobao, but please note they are all dead IDs and will not bring you any business value. The more practical way is to announce the account establishment on other existing platforms, share the link of your with your friends, colleagues and ask them to invite more people to follow through the same way. Add your Weibo link in your email signature and print it on the business card. Remember the first batch of followers always comes from your existing network, and they will keep helping you expand influence.
4. Keep good interactions with audience
Weibo is not only an online platform to showcase your brand, but also the channel to communicate with your audience in a more casual way. Don’t be too serious or official. Instead, you should try to give your account a distinct personality, so that people are more willing to interact with you. Very often an official Weibo account also serves as customer service platform. People may ask questions, comment or complain through this platform. So always have a dedicated person or team to monitor the account, treat your customers well, listen to their voices and react timely and properly.
5. Connect with Hot Discussion and Popular Accounts
As a social media account, all you need to be is social. Keeping an eye on hot topics, joining online discussion and contributing your opinions will make you more visible. You can also initiate a discussion of the topics related to your business by using hashtags, so that people will easily find your account and comments when they search these topics. Besides, frequent interaction or cross promotion with related accounts which have already built up a large fan base is also a good approach to turn part of their followers into yours.
6. Launch online campaigns
Campaigns are always the best way to make a noise, so are online campaign. Now the easiest and the most popular online campaigns on Weibo are lucky draws, that provide people with an incentive to participate. But you must monitor the whole process carefully and send out the prizes to winners as promised. Weibo has strict rules on handling “irresponsible accounts”, who don’t deliver on their promises. Besides lucky draws, you most encouraged to come up with more creative and attractive online campaigns which fit in your business purpose.
7. Online advertising and promotion
If you have an adequate budget, advertising on Weibo is an ideal choice to attract large amount of followers in a short time. The banner advertisements are usually quite expensive, charge from 60,000 RMB to 240,000 RMB per day depending its location on the page. Besides, Weibo provides other promotional services such as CPM (bidding from 5 RMB per one thousand impressions) and CPE (bidding from 0.5 RMB per each experience engaged). Through these services, your account or certain posts will be showed and promoted on your target audience’s front page, and boost their interested to follow your page.
Author: Mia Zhao. Native Shanghainese, Mia relocated to Hong Kong in 2010. Having worked in Changzhou Television Station and China Daily Asia Pacific, she is now a Marketing Executive at Alarice International, managing mainland China projects from China market-entry to online social media and PR. You can always reach Mia via [email protected]