China’s Enterprise Weibo to Win Advertisers With Enhanced Social CRM Features

Sina Weibo, China’s most popular microblogging site, is set to roll out e-commerce and CRM (customer relationship management) features for advertisers, which it claims would enable them to track sales through its enterprise solution platform.

Automobile companies such as Mercedes Benz and Audi were among the first of one thousand corporates in China to trial a new feature known as Weibo fans subscription service (粉丝服务平台) that allows brands to service their customers at scale.

For instance, the new feature could let Audi list all its different car models and data information. A Weibo user could then select the city she is based to locate the nearest dealer in her location, such as in Beijing or Fujian.

The feature also allows the German manufacturer to suggest cars they might like and showcase the write-ups and video clips of the specific car model including click-to-call, all via their smartphones.


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Bryan Cheng, general manager for Weibo Commercialization, tells ClickZ that the upgraded Enterprise Weibo version allows marketers to launch different promotional events, special offers, and manage numerous campaigns through the platform.

Since pushing out the service in July, feedback has been positive, with fan counts rising quickly and increased fan engagement, Cheng adds.

He explains that the upgraded solution gives companies a lot more leverage than simply sending out Weibo posts.

It enables marketers to start a campaign, register their phone and address details, share coupons, dealerships, and geo-targeting, as well as bridging their social presence with their stores in the real world.

This enhanced version is said to allow companies to quantify their sales leads and identify who and where their potential customers are, and allows firms to not only use the social site for branding but to drive ROI, he notes.

Sina Weibo plans to roll out this service globally to all enterprise accounts by the end of this year.

Weibo Promoted Feeds Gains Momentum

Earlier, the micro-blog launched Weibo promoted feeds (分私通) in the domestic market. The ad format is similar to Facebook’s promoted posts.

A merchant would have to log into the promoted feeds system to submit a bid and she could target audiences according to their demographics and interests to users’ desktops and mobile devices.

Depending on the objective, the advertiser could either bid by CPE (cost per engagement) to drive conversions or CPM (cost per impression) for branding and promotion.

Jennie So, general manager for Sina International, says that investment for promoted feeds increased dramatically since the ad format was extended to overseas markets in July.

Social Commerce Gets a Boost with Alibaba Weibo Integration

In August, Alibaba suspended sellers’ access to rival Tencent’s instant messaging app WeChat and announced that it would allow Sina Weibo users to log on to its Taobao Marketplace using the same login details.

This follows the Chinese e-commerce company’s $586 million investment in the microblogging service in Q2.

According to Cheng, the integration has started rolling out in phases across Alibaba’s product line from Taobao (C2C mall), Juhuasuan (group buying), TMall (B2C), and Alimama (ad network).

So far, Alibaba’s group buy and Taobao units have integrated with Weibo, with TMall and Alimama in the pipeline.

Under the current partnership, merchants would be able to leverage the microblogging site to broadcast information and promote their brands as well as acquire more users and achieve better conversion rates, Cheng explains.

One local snacks company, Be & Cheery, has seen some initial success. Boasting more than one million Weibo fans, it has several tabs on its Weibo landing page from company information, which includes company executives fans could follow, a product page that links to its Taobao store and a link to buy directly from its Weibo page.


Sina Weibo Targets Overseas Markets

Meanwhile, Weibo’s rival, Tencent-owned up-and-coming social mobile messaging app WeChat, continues to gain popularity and edges into the social commerce space.

However, Sina International’s general manager says they (Weibo) do not have any competitors in China.

“If you want to enter China and do social marketing and broadcasting; Weibo is the only tool,” she adds.

Companies outside of Mainland China would need to pay around US$300 to $1,000 to set up an Enterprise account and corporate verification.

The company has offices in the U.S., Hong Kong, and Taiwan, with partners in other markets like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Australia, Germany, France, and the U.K., among others.

In other efforts to monetize Weibo, it has also unveiled Promoted Headline (粉丝头条), a vanity tool for all users keen to promote a specific feed to their followers to pay attention to their posts. That means for a one-time fee, based on the number of fans a user has, any Weibo user would be able to promote/“show off” to her fans and ensure they would be able to see that particular feed.

Weibo Stats at a Glance:

  • 300,000 corporate accounts
  • 4,000 corporate accounts in Hong Kong alone
  • 260,000 are active
  • 400,000 weibo posts per day
  • 3.6 billion daily impressions
  • 250 million users following brands
  • Popular sectors: Food and Beverage, Fashion, Hotel and Resort, E-commerce, Property, and IT.

Weibo User Stats:

  • 536 million individual accounts
  • 54 million active users per day
  • 120 million weibo posts per day
  • 90 minutes browsing time per day
Based on Sina internal data as of March 2013

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