Sina Weibo is a Chinese microblogging website. The Twitter-like platform was once the biggest and fastest-growing social media site in China. While these days it has competitors in the region, it is still a huge platform that businesses wanting to gain attention in China need to pay attention to. The platform offers access to an engaged audience, many of whom are interested in their own B2B expansion.

The China B2B marketplace is yet to experience extensive penetration. Entering the Chinese B2B marketplace can be a challenge for a brand that is not well-known or businesses who do not have connections with influential parties in the region. However, many entrepreneurs have found a welcoming business environment when they learn how to leverage the tools that they have at their disposal, and Weibo is one such tool.

The Market

China has a large online audience. It has one of the most digitally connected populations in the world. The problem for western businesses looking to penetrate the market is their lack of understanding of social media platforms used by Chinese people.

There is no Facebook, no Twitter, and no Instagram in China. If you want to promote your B2B in the region, you need to join the local social media platforms that are used by Chinese entrepreneurs.

As many western social media platforms are blocked in China, the best way to ensure that your reach can extend into the region is to join the social media platforms that are on offer. You will need to be sure that you understand the terms of use, and any penalties for noncompliance with such terms, however, Weibo is an interesting platform that offers many features and is focused on its smartphone accessibility.

Set-Up

Creating a Weibo account as a foreign company is an involved process. You have two options:

  • register a Weibo account via a local distributor
  • Or, go through the verification process for foreign companies

It can take time, and it is an investment, so be sure to do a risk assessment prior to making the decision to join the platform so you are aware of all the costs.

Once you have been authorised as a foreign company registered in China, you can begin to create your profile as you would for any other social media platform. QR codes are still widely used in China, so adding one to your account is a good idea. You can also pay an additional fee to access VIP status, which will expose your brand to more high-profile users, such as celebrities.

Content

Weibo claims that it is commonly used by Chinese consumers researching products and services. Brands, media outlets, influencers and celebrities all use the platform to promote themselves and their products and services in various forms of content, such as videos, music clips, blogs and photos. It is also an instant messaging app, so people are sharing content, making comments and disseminating information, fast.

There are 5 main ways for brands to gain visibility on Weibo:

  • Influencer campaigns
  • Advertising
  • Weibo lottery
  • Cross-promotion
  • Organic growth

When it comes to content, it’s best to think local. You’re more likely to see better engagement with Chinese businesses with content featuring local influencers or content creators.

The platform does offer you dashboard access so that you can assess the performance of your content strategy. One of the most important things to remember is that a B2B marketing campaign that is successful in Germany, might not be successful in China. You need to ensure that you modify your approach to reach your audience. Without a glocalisation strategy in place, your international expansion efforts are unlikely to yield fast returns.

Final Thoughts

Social media platforms are a highly competitive market in China. Weibo has been one of the earliest such platforms in the region, and for that reason, many people believe it will survive the competition. As a B2B operation, joining Chinese social media, while it can be costly, is worth the investment if you are wanting to penetrate the market. Local business people will look for you and finding you have a presence on local platforms is an attractive offer for those who are looking for partners who understand the local marketplace.