Measuring Weibo Marketing: Zombie Fans vs. Social Momentum

How many marketers are still chasing the hype of Weibo marketing? After all these years, some still don’t get it. There is no hype in online marketing; there is only the cost versus benefit.

In China, the “zombie fans” on Weibo have developed themselves into an interesting micro economy. The market price of buying 1,000 zombie fans for a Weibo marketing campaign is US$1. The zombie brokers guarantee two original zombie tweets per day in addition to about 10 to 100 mechanical retweets. Then your Weibo campaign could be as lively as having 50,000 fans for just US $50. If you are pressured by your boss to produce numbers instead of an answer, then take the deal and get the job done. No one will judge you.

Nonetheless, if you and your boss want the answer, this article is for you. In general, we all have a proper understanding of how to measure marketing effectiveness. However, as social marketing is still nascent in the marketing world, scientific methodology has yet been fully developed for marketers. Therefore, I take a new approach to predict the social momentum and try to evaluate the life cycle of a Weibo marketing campaign before it dies down. By the way, I am not a fan of measuring social sentiment because sentiment is a very complex issue and I believe there is no right tool out there yet.

The following are the screenshots of the social momentum of two consumer brands’ Weibo marketing campaigns:

Fans and tweets are two fundamental elements we invest in a Weibo marketing campaign and that’s why I use them to come up with a ratio as the social momentum. As the charts above show, Adidas has a growing trend whereas HTC shows a downward trend. Should we conclude that Adidas has done a better job?

Don’t misinterpret that social momentum is an indicator to determine if it is good or bad for your social marketing spend. Instead, it alerts you if fans are still fond of your news. To scientifically measure the effectiveness, you need to add inbound traffic of your website into the picture for a holistic view.

Although one of the difficulties of measuring social marketing is that a lot of data are required for the measurement, all these data are widely available to you. Don’t just take the numbers and think they are the answer for you without measuring them.

The cost of spending on Weibo is your time (of course it requires money if you hire an agency to manage it for you). The benefit of doing Weibo is that you find a way to court your fans and bring them to your website for deeper engagement. It shouldn’t just be the number of fans.