Weibo, once the biggest social platform in China but stuck in big challenges 4 years ago , now comes back to the top player group after four years of hard work. Let Seenium Media dig into its high advertisement revenue, trending hashtags and topics, and increasing micro- influencers, to see the secrets behind a successfully transferred brand.
Weibo, known as “Chinese Twitter” global wise, was once the biggest the social platform in China before 2013. In 2013, it encountered a big crisis that almost killed the company and value proposition, when the government, for the sake of sensitivity, blocked some top KOLs and largely discouraged the different voices.
In April 2014, Weibo went public. It was said that Wechat would replace Weibo in no time because it lost the core assets – the celebrity KOLs. However, the stats from Weibo in 2016 shows us an inspirational story. It has 0.15 billion daily active users. Weibo’s total revenue grew 70% year-on-year in 2016, meanwhile, the profit jumped by 180% in the same year. Weibo grows to almost twice Twitter’s value, while Twitter is suffering from an inevitable decline. The success of Weibo reflects the massive changes in the social ecosystem happened in China.
Three years ago, text and up-to-nice pictures were the dominant content formats, however, videos and live broadcasting by the celebrities, social influencers and medias changed the game plan. Weibo provided the live broadcasting platform, which enabled the existing brand users to run their own campaign with Weibo’s support on trending hashtags and ads. Weibo also captured the social phenomena, such as “315 Consumer Day” and collaborated with traditional TV to integrate the channels. One of best example is Weibo’s collaboration with CCTV New Year’s Gala. It brought the offline traffic online and also generated heating discussion under the same topic. The user stickiness increased by 37.1%.
Another example is the Weibo live broadcasting and online engagement during Rio Olympics in 2016. Over 22 billion audience watched the live broadcasting on Weibo, while Olympics related videos were viewed for over 1 trillion times. Many athletes became famous, such as Zhang Jike who was sponsored by Dubai from 2016 to 2017.
Three years ago, Weibo was the battlefield of the big KOLs, now it seeds the micro-influencers into sub-category and encourages them to position themselves. After the government blocked a few celebrity influencers’ accounts, the influencer ecosystem shifted to micro-influencers. Weibo developed 55 categories to “cultivate” influencers who have niche audience but also high conversion and engagement rate. Like Youtube, Weibo aim at more than bringing traffic to influencers but expanding distribution channels. Therefore, Weibo launched the vertical multi-channel-networks (MCN) plan. Weibo no long gets involved in the business development and operations for the influencers.
Those who didn’t drop Weibo and embraced Wechat four years ago are now attracted by the new format and content. The Weibo users from tier one and two cities remain, while the new users steadily come from tier three and four cities. Those between 16 and 25 are the core users of Weibo, making up of almost 70% of the whole users. Weibo focuses the product feature on the networking function only instead of invading messaging function.
Weibo started with copying the features from Twitter and built itself into a news-oriented fast consuming social platform. Throughout the years, the product positioning has been changed. Weibo caught the latest trends, successfully walked away from Twitter’s old track and developed a new business cycle.