Creating a Weibo That Supports Your Business


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In this whitepaper, we will take the most popular Chinese microblogging service, Sina, as our point of departure. We will then look at the reasons why local readers choose to “follow” or “cancel” corporate microblogging accounts. Against this background, we will share some best practices from MSL China’s experience of managing weibo accounts for a large number of Chinese clients.

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  • if you don't have an organization code, it means you don't register your company in China, in this case, Weibo will not allow you have the 'blue V' (verified organization )icon for some reason.

    in this kind of situation, I suggest that you can try to get a 'Yellow V' icon (verified individual), this verification can be applied by one of the management team member of your client.

    it's not a perfect solution, but at least you can start in Weibo
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
  • I have a question regarding the requirement of Organization Codes to set up a corporation account on Weibo. The company I am helping is American and does not have a code. Do you know what I can do to certify the business, so we can start using Weibo?
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
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Creating a Weibo That Supports Your Business

  1. 1. MSL China Executive Whitepaper MSL China Executive WhitepaperCreating a Weibo ThatSupports Your Business By Stephy Liu, Johan Bjorksten, Fiona Shen, Jason Zhou
  2. 2. MSL China Executive Whitepaper In February 2011, MSL China published the whitepaper for our brand?” Against this background, and given the Best practices in Chinese microblogs which discussed fast developments in the weibo arena, we felt that it is a hot topic: should organizations leverage the new again time to summarize the most useful recent best weibo phenomenon for communications, and if so, practices in microblog communications to achieve how? Half a year later, most companies in China, what we might call a “passing grade” on the corporateAbout MSL China from consumer electronics, lifestyle and automotive weibo account. brands to industrial equipment providers and otherFollowing the union with Eastwei MSL, MSL China is now a top business-to-business companies are tweeting away to In this whitepaper, we will take the most popular5 international strategic communications agency in Mainland China. reach target audiences with corporate and marketing Chinese microblogging service, Sina, as our pointWith 200 colleagues across 4 offices, MSL China brings together messages. of departure. We will then look at the reasons whyover 20 senior consultants with more than 12 years of strategic local readers choose to “follow” or “cancel” corporate Some brands are doing this successfully, generating microblogging accounts. Against this background,communications experience in this key global market. Part of wide attention and word-of-mouth from online we will share some best practices from MSL China’sMSLGROUP Greater China, the largest PR & social media network in communities. But many corporate weibo accounts experience of managing weibo accounts for a largethe region today, MSL China provides knowledge driven, integrated seem unable to engage with the online community, number of Chinese clients. More specifically, in ordercampaigns and advisory services spanning nearly every industry and don’t generate a lot of commentary. In fact, after the to get a “passing grade” for your weibo, we believe initial rush of interest, we are starting to see users marketers need tocommunications discipline. MSL China has received recognition from defect from company accounts; some brands have ● Objectively assess the current status of their weibothe International Business Awards, The Holmes Report’s “PR Agency fewer and fewer followers. Some promotion methods effortof the Year,” the China International PR Association and China’s that seem to have produced initial results “forward this ● Analyze the reasons targets groups “follow” orNew Media Festival for its creativity and effectiveness in strategic tweet to three friends and receive an award” are now “cancel” their accountscommunications and industry-leading social media offering. often viewed by initial brand fans as an increasingly ● Master six key weibo management tactics counterproductive irritant; even when a few people do ● Create a sustainable platform for daily maintenance. participate, they have learned to immediately cancel their subscriptions after receiving the award. Because of this, our clients are no longer asking us “should I launch a weibo initiative?”,About MSLGROUP but rather “how can I ensure that my weiboMSLGROUP is Publicis Groupe’s PR, speciality communications account stays fresh and continues to attract increasing numbers of users, so as to remain aand engagement group, advisors in all aspects of communication sustainably cost-effective promotion channelstrategy: from consumer PR to employee communications,from public affairs to reputation management and from crisiscommunications to event management. With more than 2,900people, its offices span 22 countries. Adding affiliates andpartners into the equation, MSLGROUP’s reach increases to 4,000employees in 83 countries. Today the largest PR network in GreaterChina and India, the group offers strategic planning and counsel,insight-guided thinking and big, compelling ideas – followed bythorough execution. Learn more about us at: Twitter+ YouTube
  3. 3. MSL China Executive WhitepaperUnderstanding the status of your weibo Traditional These microblogs are the result of “old-school” PR from Taiwan) and @QiongYouWang (famous travel review and discussion website). methods: basically, shortening press releases or other Banana Taipei, a fashion brand from Taiwan, is one of the best 5 Typical Types of Brand Weibo Communications corporate content to 140 characters to fit the new examples of how to leverage KOL’s and consumer generated content. weibo medium, but keeping the formal tone of voice. The weibo account has also been successfully integrated with theBy looking at a large number brand’s Taobao store to drive sales. Accounts in this category can be spotted by the factof corporate and organizational that there is almost no interaction, discussion andweibo accounts, we have found Aimless Traditional Content- Interactive Strategic forwarding. This is a very common phenomenon. Inthat they can be classified in driven fact, the majority of company weibo efforts currentlyorder of maturity into what we Blindly Communicates Pushes Provides platform Content and fall into the traditional category. The root cause isca ll “a imless”, “ tr a ditiona l”, maximizes using PR interersting and for interaction with interactivity number of methods from relevant content audiences support corporate conservatism and a fear of experimentation,“content-driven”, “interactive” and followers traditional media communications and business and often a failure to understand how social media“strategic/business-driven”. The goals function. Traditional weibos are often made fun ofgraph lists some of the typical online; in our opinion, they usually have an adversecharacteristics of each type, with effect on the brand.the most primitive efforts to theleft and the most advanced to the “content-driven” categories, while the weibo that tend to really attractright. Most current microblogs in target groups are “interactive” or “strategic”. Let us have a look at the Content-driven StrategicChina fall into the “traditional” and reasons for this. A content-driven weibo effort shows that the company The highest-value microblogs combine content and already has a fundamental grasp of social media and interactivity based on the brand personality to drive how to leverage them for communications efforts; a lot a targeted and measureable online marketing effort. whereas a “normal” or “live” account would have a The “Suning Campus Club” brand account displays over 700 posts – of fast-moving consumer goods, consumer technology but all are nearly identical, and there is no audience interaction. much higher proportion. The whole microblogging effort is aligned with sales and IT, and lifestyle brands have already entered this and branding objectives to become a long-term, space. The brand tells interesting stories and has sustainable business tool. When we analyze these There may two reasons for this discrepancy: the developed a close rapport with readers. The account is accounts, it is clear that content is being generated number of followers has been faked, or content quality managed by a professional team who update specially according to a long-term (more than six-month) plan. is not interesting to followers. Many clients spend created content on a daily basis: content is rich and We also find that they are usually closely integrated large sums on hiring so-called “digital consulting varied, often contains a blend of text and pictures, and with other communications channels and activities. companies” who achieve a seemingly high activity in has an informal tone-of-voice that feels natural to the what’s called “astroturfing”: using automated programs online audience. A good example is Louis Vuitton’s In order to achieve these results, the weibo team or college students. To senior managers who do not understand acclaimed weibo account. must have firm objectives, a sustainable strategy, a the mechanics well-defined online brand positioning, and a detailedAimless o f m i c r o b lo g s , Interactive execution plan for content and interactivity. Of course,The two main reasons that some weibo fall into this results may look In order to reach this level, the company must the team must also be experienced and have thecategory are lack of persistence.The company opens good, but in fact, leverage an experienced weibo team that is capable staffing to execute the strategy on a daily, sometimesa weibo account without systems in place to ensure such efforts rarely of launching content that actively drives interaction: hourly basis. Moreover, the communications teamlong-term content or a basic failure to grasp the real provide real value interesting activities and engaging discussions must be structured in such a way that weibo contentbenefits of a microblog. The latter often results in so for money to the that hook followers and foster a close and lively can be aligned with other social media, traditionalcalled “zombie” accounts. The easiest way to spot co m p a n y. T h e relationship with them; @ANNASUI is a good example. advertising and PR, as well as sales campaigns andzombies is to compare the number of “followers” with potential adverse effect can be serious: users resent Taken to the highest level, such interactivity allows other marketing efforts. Some examples in thisthe number of forwards per tweet : the account may being duped, and when they find out, companies in the weibo to rely mainly on UGC, User Generated category are award-winning accounts such as @minihave over a hundred thousand followers, but there China have recently found themselves in the midst of a Content and generate IWOM, Internet Word-of-Mouth; China (Mini Cooper China), @durex, @Singaporemay be as few as three or four forwards of each tweet, media crisis or even litigation. examples are @BananaTaipei (a stylish bag company Tourism Board and @IKEA.
  4. 4. MSL China Executive Whitepaper Why users “follow” or “cancel” weibo accountsLet us now look at the reasons that the above the professional weibo communicator needs tocategories are so important for our analysis. Why understand what makes online audiences it that most company efforts fail to reach the“strategic” level? The reason is simple: marketers These answers are very much in line with our ownfail to understand user preferences, are unable to experience from managing accounts: if you want toestablish real dialog and interactivity. Because of this, succeed, you need to use themes that are logical andthere is no strategy to talk of, and the weibo account relevant to users and interesting content that is in linefails to generate business results. So just as every with the brand image. That’s easy to say, of course –good marketer starts by looking at consumer needs, but how should one go about achieving it? Let’s have a look at some concrete tactics.Why do people follow a brand account? “The Weibo Poem” A popular internal MSL China posting on the principles of weibo management. The posting quickly went viral amongst our consultants – a great example of how creative format generates buzz and increases the impact of communications.
  5. 5. MSL China Executive Whitepaper Getting to the “passing grade” – designing a high-ROI company movie itself. If you don’t do this right, you risk diluting the brand or giving it a split personality. Establishing Weibo contents microblog the “tweet image” avoids this by explicitly deciding the tone of voice, style and positioning of weibo content. Some companies hire legions of students to fill their microblogs with content; if this is your approach, you Six pillars of brand weibo operation will need to spend significant effort training a bunch of teenagers to adopt a style that is engaging and for other age groups: if you want to attract and keep 28- 35 female consumers, you need to make sure your tweets are at the right maturity level. You may need to train your “actors” to be versatile enough to support a variety of brands aimed at different target groups. Tweet content Content is king – nowhere is this Tweet tone Tweet image m o re tr u e tha n i n s o ci a l m e d i a . Brands and users communicate through content You need to listen before you can tweet. In this respect, weibo marketing is no and activities. As a result of the weibo revolution, Before you launch the weibo, you must different from traditional marketing: in marketers are rediscovering the need to “market”establish a “daily listening” system which takes in not the end, you are trying to create a clear image and great content in addition to great products. You needonly what followers are saying on your own account positioning in the minds of your target group. Building to begin by understanding what kind of information,(which is often influenced by your own editorial a brand is like building up the image of a personality entertainment and other content users will be lookingactivity) but also listens to what’s going on in the in a movie: the script determines how the actor should for in your online brand space. One example is themicroblogging environment at large: what your target interpret the role; if the script is good enough, you can analysis from DCCI below on usage habits in the 70’s,group are saying when they are in their own forums. exchange the actor without changing the style of the 80’s and 90’s generations; the differences betweenContinuously analyzing the larger blogosphere is The IKEA weibo image age groups are clearly significant.the most important input for your strategy. Once ·Love family, love life atyou understand what your audience needs and what home ·Simple, honestthey care about, in essence allowing you to balance ·Pragmatic ·Always provides Since microblogging is a high-frequency communications “small surprises”your “supply” with the “demand” for various types of ·Helps you find the channel, the need for content becomes huge. We happiness and beauty in everyday lifecontent. Our colleague Gaurav Mishra calls this finding categorize content as “company-generated”, “user-the “Social Heartbeat”. generated”, “timely” and “opinion leader cooperation”. The brand’s“weibo positioning” sets the stage for content, tone-of- As a very general rule of thumb, a ratio of 6:2:1:1 is voice, design of interactive activities and follower management about right; but this of course varies significantly @IKEA is a good example of a microblog with a personality that accurately between different companies, products and brands. reflects the brand image. This clear positioning is one of the reasons that Company generated content can be produced using the IKEA weibo is currently ranked higher than any other home furnishing what we call the “tweet content matrix”: this includes brand on Sina. The positioning also helps us maintain a relaxed, natural flow of tweets that gain user comments such as “IKEA’s weibo content positioning and style, target group characteristics is sweeter than first love” and “every time I get an IKEA tweet I feel like and the business and communications needs of building myself a home”. the company. The tweet content matrix ensures
  6. 6. MSL China Executive Whitepaperthat your weibo maintains a consistent editorial results if you plan it well. Audiences tend to be Brand cooperates with brands accrosing industrystyle despite the fragmented nature of the increasingly turned off by simple “send this to three can make surprise towards follows. This can createchannel, makes it easier for the weibo team to friends and get a prize” activities, so you need to find a an image of openness, liveliness and participationexecute on the strategy as well as launching theme and “reason to participate” that is not trivial. for the brand, by leveraging common interests in the“opportunistic” tweets based on ongoing events target group. Such activities are not easy to design;without compromising the “look and feel” of Brand account cooperation they must be carefully selected not to give a “forced”your account. The clearest example is the use of It sometimes makes sense to implement co-branding impression. For this reason, it is used rather sparsely,“#XX#” tag series (in general, we recommend efforts with other official brand accounts, allowing but we believe it is worth spending more effort inusing tags for themed campaigns; these can the to build on each other’s popularity, just as when this area. A successful example is the cooperationbe designed according to a “topic tag creation two people introduce each other’s circles of friends between Trendmicro and Durex.process” which is illustrated below together with to each other. There are several types of cooperation:the tweet content matrix. Brand cooperates with sub-brands or brands in the same group is a ususal approach. A typical exampleIn addition to the company-generated content, is th e co o p e r ati o n b et w e e n th e H o n g Ko n gleveraging a certain amount of user-generated engagement and involvement; in order to attract Tourism Board and local commercial brands; bycontent is an effective tool. By finding ways of weibo followers, we need to create an interactive leveraging the popularity of local brands, andencouraging audiences to contribute, which can or, better yet, viral, promotion. We also need to multiplying their effect under a common umbrella,include active campaigns to solicit contributions, you coordinate and integrate all online platforms:brand the marketer creates a win-win situation. This alsoshould generate at least the minimum level needed weibo account, home page, campaign minisite, SNS creates an official endorsement of the individualto ensure that the weibo is truly interactive and doesn’t pages and so on. commercial brands, providing support for theirdegenerate into a one-way loudspeaker. credibility and loyalty. Competitions and awards This may be one of the most hackneyed and over- Tweet interactivity exploited online tools, but it can still generate good As we have seen, content and interactivity are the two key components that dovetail Using weibo to distribute content from influential KOL’s is a great way of to make a weibo truly attractive to users. promoting products and events. The Puma Social campaign featured celebrity model Pace Wu, who already had a large weibo following, inThere are many kinds of interactivity; in order to build real-life events. Her weibo posts generated strong online buzz and word-your weibo into a marketing powerhouse, you need to of-mouth.choose those activities that will attract your particulartarget group. In this way, the account will “come alive”and become a platform of two-way interchange. In our Combining weibo activity with traditional media andexperience, some of the most useful activities are: other offline promotions. Many brands currently doMinisites and apps this successfully, but there are two especially easy Brand cooperates with brands in the same industry ways of doing this which companies often disregard: If yo ur b u d g et a llow s , a n d co nsi d er in g th e is conducive for winning fans.The Singapore Tourism You can promote successful online activities suchcharacteristics of your target group, launching a full- Board cooperates with travel and tourism portal eLong as awards to generate print publicity in real-lifeblown campaign supported by advertising on minisitesor apps can still generate good value. However, you in a fans interactive activity using awards and other interviews, forums and panels; we can also leverageneed to align the activity carefully with the positioning straightforward incitements to participate, generating digitial tools such as weibo to engage traditionalof your brand. But even if the campaign relies mainly on substantial attention for both accounts within an hour stakeholders – journalists, experts and officials –advertising, we still need to ensure that it encourages of the activity. before the physical activity takes place.
  7. 7. MSL China Executive Whitepaper Technical tools like this “weibo voting widget” used by can effectively help brands to understand consumer preferencesCoordinating with other online platforms and behavior. The campaign provided incentives to consumersMany of our clients ask us to support in driving traffic to the who fed their information into the widget.home page or e-commerce platform; we have found socialmedia, and weibo especially, to be a great complement totraditional traffic support like Search Engine Optimization(SEO) and click-through advertising. This is confirmed bythe DCCI figures below. Coordinating the brands entireonline presence is becoming a must for successful internetmarketing.When you search for the brand online, you will often findthat the weibo receives high rankings on the search engines,in essence becoming the brand’s “second face” in additionto the home page. By considering how target groups lookfor information, and in particular their search behavior andsearch terms, you can create tweets that frequently containthe most popular phrases that users are looking for. Tweet follower relations straightforward, personal and colloquial, making it By “relations”, we mean the way the easy to read. Address users by their online nicknames brand responds to online commentary and avoid using polite forms of address. and how well it understands the needs and behavior of followers. As a rule of thumb, no question or Actively responding to questions and criticism is useful negative comment should be left unanswered for both as a way of increasing interaction and dialog, more than 48 hours. We always try to involve the and as a way of adapting content to user interests and client’s PR department and often Customer Service needs. department in drafting a standard “weibo discussion FAQ document”. This document is usually an adaption In addition, analyzing followers in depth is also an of traditional standard operating procedures from important part of managing the account. One way is customer service documents, where the language has to simply conduct surveys and voting activities on the been revised to better suit the online environment. account itself. We also recommend using add-ins or We also try to ensure that the style reflects the widgets插件such as the Weibo Positioning Billboard personality of the brand itself. The content of replies (微博风云榜), Weibo Fan Analysis (围脖粉丝分析) should be practical, focused and to the point; but also and Wei Fenxi (微分析) as analysis tools.
  8. 8. MSL China Executive Whitepaper KPI KPI of Weibo Account Influence Analysis In our previous whitepaper, Follower Quality Index we explained how to use Brand weibo checklist Number of Number of followersa number of generally applicable KPI’s followers(Key Performance Indicators) such as Active followers Number of active followers Percentage of active followersnumber of followers, and number of Number of verified followersforwards. But as the weibo marketing Verified followers Percentage of verified followers A clear strategy is not enough; an effective weibo the five categories the company’s weibo belongsenvironment matures and companies initiative also relies on professional and efficient to, there will be different tasks and priorities. Most Popular followers Number of popular followersestablish more specific goals for their Percentage of popular followers day-to-day management. Based on experience, the of our clients ask us to strive for the most advancedweibo activities, these metrics are no Number of Analyze the number of sub-followers (followers of each sub-followers follower) using theappropriateplug-in MSL China team has collated a checklist of the most option: a strategically integrated weibo initiative thatlonger enough. To capture the ROI of important tacticts, listed in chronological order from directly supports the company’s communications and Zombie followers Number of zombie followersour weibo effort, we need to combine Percentage of zombie followers inception to measurement. Depending on which of business objectives.several qualitative and qualitativemetrics that better reflect our marketing Follower relevanceobjectives and can provide input for Age, gender, education, income, Demographics geographical distributtion, etcongoing strategic improvements.Based on experience, we suggest Analyze follower interest and preferences Topical Interest from comments and questions on our contentusing a set of practical KPI’s, including Brand Weibo Checklist Users comments and voting to analyzeinfluence of followers; proximity of Brand Interest the level of brand liking and loyaltyfollowers to marketing target group;content attractiveness; and degree Engagement with contentof interactivity. These measures are Average number of forwards ●Average participation in activity, for example of original postingsinterrelated: no matter how influential uploads, forwards,comments. Average number of comments ●Increase in follower number as result ofour followers are, if we want to achieve on original postings activitymarketing objectives, we must also As a rule of thumb, proportion of originalunderstand how closely they reflect our Proportion of original and and user-generated content should be user-generated content 3:1, but this depends on specifictarget group. circumstances Relative proportion of positive, negative and neutral comments Engagement with brand Relative proportion of positive, negative and neutral comments Integration with other social media platforms Direct effect of the weibo market- ing effort – this can be analyzed Consumer dicussion and buzz around brand using consumer survey tools, outside the brand account. focus groups or informal gather- ings of weibo followers Number of external links Store traffic and sales
  9. 9. MSL China Executive WhitepaperIn this whitepaper, we have tried to provide a strategic recipe for weibo success. But in the end, no matterhow good the strategy, the extent to which your company’s employees embrace microblogging will be thekey to success. The MSL China weibo team consists of a bunch of expert weibo enthusiasts, but we havefound that this is not enough; we must get all employees to become weibo ambassadors of the company.Today, many of our employees are active on our own @MSL China account. Even our hoary old directorshave joined the weibo craze. @them if you have the chance! Weibo management is like a love affair: even if you can achieve instant passion using a few short-term marketing tricks, the real challenge is to build long- term attraction. You need to nurture trust and emotional rapport between your brand and its followers; every now and then, you also need to provide a surprise or especially romantic moment to keep the flame alive. Successful brands don’t try to generate love at first sight; they devote themselves strategically to creating those deep and honest interactions that foster life-long relationships.