At the end of 2013, Sina Weibo was pushed from its number one spot among Chinese social media services by Tencent’s WeChat, a mobile based social media app. However, with the estimated 157 million monthly users, Weibo still remains an extremely attractive venue for marketers.
In this post, I’m going to review the primary routes for promotion and advertising on Sina Weibo. There are three basic ways to promote a brand on Weibo:
- Weibo Fans headlines (粉丝头条)
- Weibo Fans pass (粉丝通)
- Weibo Micro task (微任务)
Weibo Fans Headlines
This is the simplest way to promote a post by pushing it to the top of followers’ feed. At present, Weibo charges 2.37 RMB per post to be displayed above others in the feed for 24 hours. There is 40% discount for any posts that mention anything related to Weibo itself.
Making a post more prominently displayed can be an effective way to attract clicks from brand followers by having them notice the content as soon as they log in. The obvious disadvantage is the fact that it only improves your content’s visibility with your existing followers and does little to acquire new ones. On the other hand, the price for this type of promotion is fairly affordable.
This type of promotion involves an ad campaign and can be initiated and managed with an ad account. The ad account opening process requires local ID and usually takes about 3 days to complete the approval process.
There are two pricing models: CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and CPE (cost per engagement) which are determined by automated bidding process, similar to the familiar Google Adwords.
CPM prices start at 5 RMB per CPM and can be increased by bidding up with 0.1 RMB increments.
“E” in CPE type of Weibo advertising stands for “engagement” that can be either click, a forward, a like or a follow. The initial price is set to minimum 0.5 RMB per CPE and can be increased at 0.01 RMB increment. The final price will be ultimately determined by quality of the content and competitive offers. If the price is set too low and the content is not engaging enough, the ad may not receive enough exposure, so setting the right bid and making adjustment to the content takes a bit of tweaking.
Weibo ad account provides some analytics tool to judge the effectiveness of an ad campaign but finding the right combination of all the parameters takes some skills and experience.
The third type of promotion, which is also unique to Weibo, is called Micro Task and involves engaging KOLs, or Key Opinion Leaders.
KOLs are basically people with a lot of followers and are considered to be authority figures in their areas of expertise. Some KOLs have millions of followers which enables them to broadcast a targeted message to a very large audiences.
Depending on a specific industry, Weibo offers a range of KOLs to choose from. Typically, those with the largest following are more expensive to engage.
Working with KOLs requires opening an account and paying a deposit that is currently set to 2,000 RMB for companies. Once a suitable KOL is chosen, you can set a task (hence the name of this feature – “micro-task”) that normally involves posting your content in KOLs account that should appear at the time of your choosing and remain visible for a set period.
Depending on a specific KOL and the type of promotion task he/she receives, the price is set by Weibo automatically.
Individuals (as opposed to companies) can also use micro-task to promote posts. There is no deposit for individual account and you pay as you go per each task. On the other hand, individuals can’t pick KOLs that will be assigned by Weibo automatically.