LONDON – A one-day course on the marketing possibilities offered by Chinese microblogging website Sina Weibo took place on 22 June 2017 at Cocoon Networks London. As one of the major social networks in China, Sina Weibo offers big brands, retailers, B2B businesses, and educators successful marketing options allowing them to thrive within the Chinese market. The event was organised by The Chinese Weekly and by Sina Weibo.
Headquartered in London but with offices in more than five cities around the globe, The Chinese Weekly (TCW) is a Chinese-language news platform whose print – published four times a year - and online magazine is read by over 100,000 people. The TCW website, its mobile App and its social media pages daily inform more than 600,000 users. The platform covers local, European and international news on current affairs, politics, economics, education, and culture and lifestyle, amongst others. TCW prides itself on being the first news platform to have published material in simplified Mandarin in the United Kingdom. TCW also produces China's World, a twice-yearly issue concerned with globalisation and Chinese current affairs.
In July 2015 TCW was selected to become the official agent for Sina Weibo in Europe. Since then, TCW assisted over 200 UK and European businesses in successfully entering the Chinese market. Established by Sina Corporation in 2009, Sina Weibo allows users to purchase and sell products, to share their experiences via live streams, to play online games, and to initiate online polls. Sina Weibo users follow all sorts of accounts – including those of celebrities and KOLs – to learn about daily news and to gain access to stimulating contents. In the first quarter of 2017 the platform had 340 million active monthly accounts, suggesting the website now has 30% more users than in 2016. Sina Weibo has 154 million daily users and about 90% of them access the platform through their mobile phone.
Sina Weibo provides large companies, SMEs and individuals with the opportunity to expand their online community and to promote their products, their services and their brand through a number of advertising packages able to meet any budget. Sina Weibo’s solutions allow businesses to target consumers that share specific characteristics and that are thus more likely to purchase a company’s products and/or services.
The workshop took place at Cocoon Networks London. A Chinese-backed investment platform and financial investment consultancy, Cocoon Networks’ wide range of services includes venture capital investment, a business accelerator, co-working spaces and IP management.
Following introductory remarks by Managing Director at TCW Mr Golding, Mark Hedley, Senior Advisor at the China-Britain Business Council, discussed China’s digital landscape, its e-commerce scene and local opportunities for UK Brands. Amongst other things, Mr Hedley touched on the opportunities in mobile commerce, on the rise of the Chinese middle class, on the increase in spending in e-commerce in lower-tier cities and on online shopping behaviour, commenting the most popular product categories in China.
Andy Golding, Managing Director at TCW, initiates the event
Mark Hedley, Senior Advisor at the China-Britain Business Council
After proving Sina Weibo's potential as a platform where to promote products and services, Domenica Di Lieto, CEO at Emerging Communications, provided a step-by-step guide to marketing on the platform. Such guide included the activities needed to increase visibility, awareness, credibility and trust; to acquire more followers and aptly engage them; and to develop effective CRM processes and advocacy.
Lisa Wang, Director and Founder of Weibo Business School, discussed a number of ways to resourcefully put to use Sina Weibo’s data insights. The techniques suggested would allow any business to ‘decrypt’ multifaceted consumer preferences that now evolve against the background of an increasingly globalised China. The Weibo Business School, established by Sina Corporation, provides professional training on innovative brand communication and online marketing methods to governmental bodies, corporations and individuals.
The floor was then taken by Chang Yi, Fashion and Make-up Blogger, who shared her experience as KOL or ‘Key Opinion Leader’ on Sina Weibo. After emphasising the advantages of advertising on Sina Weibo, Ms Chang described the role of KOLs on the platform and revealed the ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ of KOLs.
Ming Ruan, Senior Manager of Sina Weibo Marketing Solutions, a social media marketing expert with professional experience gained in various industries, instead discussed improved approaches to interactive communication that can better match a more and more celebrity-centred Chinese economy.
After a brief lunch break, James Campbell, Co-Founder of TongDigital, showed that - even temporarily - disregarding Sina Weibo can importantly damage a brand's image and opportunities. He discussed three case studies, providing a ‘good example’, a ‘bad example’ and an ‘ugly example’. TongDigital develops efficient market entry strategies for foreign brands willing to penetrate the Chinese market.
Yunjie Ti, Director of Sina Weibo Marketing Solutions, delivered a comprehensive and detailed presentation on Sina Weibo-specific marketing techniques aimed at boosting brand promotion and sales conversion. Her presentation covered the creation of an official account, the options available for posting content, and data analysis and report opportunities.
Ms Ti’s presentation was followed by a brief exposition by Josh Chi, Planning Manager at Omnicom Media Group UK, one of the world's top advertising, marketing and corporate communications company.
The day was then concluded by a brief Q&A and a networking session, where those taking part in the event could chat and exchange ideas with the speakers.
Kain Jagger from Lan Bridge on this one-day course: “It was a very good event, very informative. I thought I knew about Sina Weibo as I lived in China for a few years and currently work for a Chinese translation company. However, even I have learned quite a lot. It was very eye-opening.”
Serena from Buyhomeuk ltd. on the event: “We attended this event because we are a local company willing to expand our client base in China. We now have a Wechat profile but we have never had a Weibo account.”