Using KOL (key opinion leaders) has been one of the most effective social media marketing strategies in China. In this blog we have covered extensively the ways WeChat or Weibo KOL can be found, vetted and engaged to promote brands in various social media channels, which primarily are WeChat and Weibo.
Most recently, Weibo has introduced the set of new rules on what KOLs can and can’t do on their platform. Some of those rules are designed to fight completion, others to maximize the ad revenue.
ParkLU, a digital advertising platform that connects China’s internet celebrities and brands, recently released a list of rules that are currently being enforced on Weibo.
Here are the new Weibo KOL posting rules:
Link blocking to all e-commerce sites except Alibaba properties
In light of fierce competition within BAT (Baidu-Alibaba-Tencent) this rule makes a lot of sense and is hardly a surprise. Since Alibaba is the largest shareholder of Sina Weibo, they want to make sure to benefit as much as possible their own ecommerce platforms such as Taobao and Tmall.
KOL accounts need to seek permission before promoting more than one brand in a single post
This new Weibo KOL rule is most likely aimed at improving quality of the posts. Promoting multiple brands in a single post typically benefits KOLs themselves (since they can charge more), however the marketing message gets diluted which probably isn’t what a brand is paying for.
All posts with external links will receive a 20% media exposure penalty
Clearly, Weibo would like to keep as much traffic as possible within the platform. For example, posts linking to other Weibo posts or pages would get better ranking vs. those linking to pages outside the platform.
Posts containing plagiarized content will receive a 50% page weight penalty
This new Weibo rule still doesn’t go as far as the equivalent one for WeChat where such posts are most likely to be taken down completely. Of course, in some cases, proving who copied whom can also be tricky.
Posts containing long form images will receive a 50% page weight penalty
According to ParkLU CMO Elijah Whaley, this rule is rather confusing. Such images have been quite popular with users and it is not immediately clear why Weibo doesn’t like them anymore.
Accounts that only repost will receive a page weight penalty
This rule once again is designed to improve the posts quality and encourage creating original content by KOLs rather than recycling and reposting content already existing elsewhere.
Post containing a QR code will receive a page weight penalty
The penalty for QR code is clearly targeting Weibo’s largest competitor WeChat. It isn’t anything new though – Weibo wasn’t allowing posting WeChat QR codes for a while now.
Posts that mention WeChat will receive max page weight penalty, limited to 10% total visibility
Here is another shot against WeChat. In fact, WeChat has been blocking all the links to Alibaba ecommerce stores (Taobao or Tmall) for years now, so it is only fair that Weibo would reciprocate.
Accounts that mention marketing, sales or advertising businesses could receive a page weight penalty
With this new Weibo KOL rule, the platform is trying to avoid promoting competition that may take some of Weibo’s advertising revenues. Posts should be focusing on promoting brands, products and services rather than potential Weibo’s competitors.
Lucky draw campaigns must use Weibo’s official lucky draw function or receive a page weight penalty
Since lucky draws are quite popular in Chinese social media, Weibo prefers to use their own tools rather than third party service for this type of campaigns. This way, the traffic stays in Weibo rather than goes elsewhere.