Sina Weibo (微博), often known as the Chinese Twitter, is China's largest micro-blogging social media platform. The content on Weibo is short, trendy, and easy to share, making it a popular social media channel for the public to follow trending topics and participate in social discussions.
Weibo and WeChat used to be the standard package for B2B and B2C marketers seeking to reach their Chinese audiences through social media.
As of 2022, there are over 530 million monthly active users on Weibo and 1 million verified Weibo enterprise accounts. However, over the past few years, the digital ecosystem has changed dramatically, with short video and livestream platforms emerging as a more popular and traffic-driven alternative.
Along with this trend, users are also spending less time on Weibo, mostly just checking hot social topics and quick news. These factors have made Weibo less attractive for B2B brands.
Is it time for B2B brands to quit Weibo marketing?
The short answer is, it is, and it isn’t.
Although many B2B marketers are seeing diminishing returns from Weibo marketing, they are also less reliant on one social media channel to reach users, particularly just Weibo. WeChat has proved to be an indispensable channel for B2B, despite it being a more closed network than Weibo. Zhihu has also become an important content marketing channel to reach professional audiences and increase brand exposure.
To give Weibo a fair shake, we also broke down why B2B brands should and shouldn’t quit Weibo in the following.
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Why Should B2B Brands Quit Weibo Marketing?
One of the downsides of using Weibo for B2B marketing is that the popular content on Weibo tends to be more “entertainment-related.”
Users go to Weibo to follow trendy news and hot social topics, particularly the topics under “Hot Searches.” They also follow KOLs (also referred to as “Big V”) who actively share voices on particular topics, movie stars, celebrities, and business leaders.
If we take a closer look at some successful Weibo enterprise accounts, you will notice that most of them are B2C brands whose content is entertainment-driven or focused on practical tips. User habits have developed over time to use Weibo for consumable and trendy content and WeChat for long-form and more in-depth content.
Lower User Engagement
In addition to the entertainment-focused content, B2B enterprise accounts usually have a lower user engagement (likes, shares, comments) regardless of how many followers they have.
Even for the most successful B2B enterprise accounts, such as Intel China, SAP, and Microsoft, user engagement is rarely comparable with other successful consumer brand accounts. This is a direct result of the content fitattractiveness and the general user behaviors of the B2B users on Weibo — they tend to spend less time engaging with accounts and mainly use Weibo to follow trendy news.
Difficult To Convert
Weibo marketing is generally not great for B2B lead generation or sales conversion. For one, Weibo tends to degrade Weibo tweets if they direct users to external websites or other social media platforms such as WeChat due to the competition between platforms. This means any content that includes an external link will be pushed to 90% fewer users compared to the content that doesn’t try to direct users to external platforms.
In addition, users tend to use Weibo for checking social news instead of researching brands and products, which means Weibo is inherently not built for brands to convert sales.
Every coin has two sides. Even though people have been leaving the platform in droves for the past few years, millions still check in and engage on this platform multiple times a day. Beyond its massive user base, below are some reasons why we think Weibo is still valuable.
Why Should B2B Brands Use Weibo Marketing?
Its Ability To Set Trends and Influence Public Opinions
Brands should still consider Weibo for their B2B marketing because of its ability to set trends and lead public conversations.
Weibo is the longest-living and primary micro-blogging site in China, and its role as a social listening tool is still irreplaceable to this date. Despite the content being more entertainment-driven, the platform still attracts many KOLs and media publications to share valuable content and insights.
Because Weibo users tend to follow real people on the platform, brands can interact with the KOLs (industry experts) to participate in relevant conversations or launch an executive profiling program on Weibo.
Its Massive User Base
Another obvious reason to include Weibo in B2B marketing is its massive user base. Weibo attracts 530 million monthly active users. Weibo has more diverse user demographics than other channels:
The male and female distribution is around half and half
80% of users are millennials and Gen Zers
50% of users live in tier 1&2 cities, while the rest live in tier 3 and under
So for any B2B brands wanting to target a more diverse audience, Weibo is a strong contender.
Compared to WeChat, where users need to follow you to see the content updates, Weibo is an open discussion forum where your content can reach other people’s feeds through hashtag strategy.
Its openness and potential to push content in front of a more extensive network of audiences is why many brands still use Weibo in addition to WeChat. Additionally, Baidu and 360 search engines crawl public Weibo posts, so if you consistently leverage strategic keywords in your Weibo company feed page, you might gain SEO benefits from them.
The Final Verdict
There is no denying that Weibo is still a major player and remains beneficial for some businesses. Whether or not you should quit it or stay with it all comes down to your social media strategy, budget and resources.
Not every social platform makes sense for every brand, especially for B2B companies. But here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Do your business and your content make sense to promote on Weibo? Even if you are in the semiconductor industry, it may make sense to use Weibo if your content focuses on employer branding, for example.
Do you have enough resources? Can you allocate the budget, talents and time to grow Weibo, or would this put a strain on your resources that could hurt your other channels?
Can you leverage other social media channels to build synergy? Weibo is best used as a re-targeting and awareness-boost channel instead of a standalone social channel, so it makes sense to consider whether to use it by looking at the bigger picture of your strategy.
If you mostly answered yes, then maybe you should still stick to Weibo. On the contrary, if you mostly answered no, we’d recommend you quit Weibo, re-direct your focus to WeChat and explore other channels such as Zhihu and Douyin.
In the end, every B2B business needs a diverse digital strategy. Put simply, you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. Instead, use Weibo alongside other channels as part of your digital media matrix.
B2B decision-making is a complex journey as people’s attention becomes increasingly fragmented. Using the right social media matrix that includes multiple channels will help you capture a wider net and re-target your audience at different stages of the funnel. If resource allows, experiment with different platforms and see which one generates the best results for you.
At Tribe China, we advise B2B and tech brands on the right social media strategy that generates the best results. Explore our social media services.