/Must-know highlights of China’s Twitter, Weibo

Must-know highlights of China’s Twitter, Weibo

There have been rumors floating around about a possible sale of Twitter. On the other hand, Twitter’s counterpart in China, the Nasdaq-listed Sina Weibo, saw in August a breakthrough in its valuation, surpassing USD 10 billion.

Weibo, the micro-blogging site founded in 2009, welcomed its first users from social platforms like MSN. However, when aWeChat said hello in 2012, Weibo’s competitive advantages in connecting acquaintances and friends started to drop.

In the past few years, more and more government organizations, enterprises and celebrities have been starting Weibo official accounts, helping Weibo to transform into a platform where users collect and share information. In other words, the social-media platform Weibo is becoming less like a social network and more of a media.

Weibo now claims to have a monthly active user base of 282 million people, a YoY growth of 33%.

Penguin Intelligence, the Tencent-backed research organization, carried out a survey with 8,373 netizens on their Weibo preferences. Here are some highlights:

User profile

Among the 8,373 surveyed netizens, 71.7% use or once used Weibo. We can divide this 71.7% into three groups:

Types of Weibo users (photo edited from Tencent Tech)
Types of Weibo users (Photo edited from Tencent Tech)

31.2% are loyal users, sticking with the platform. They are mostly born after the 1990’s and The female users outweigh the males. 73.5% of these loyal users use Weibo to keep track of hot events, and 47.2% use it to follow celebrities.

11.6% are new users who started using Weibo only recently. 40% of them joined the platform because of its topics of popularity and interests.

28.9% are users who once used but are no longer using Weibo. Male users with relatively good salaries and higher diplomas take a large proportion of the group. As to why they chose to leave, 37.1% said they were disappointed by a lack of valuable content, and 31.6% complained about the truckloads of ads.

Overall, celebrities (63.1%), hot topics (58.2%) and news (54.9%) are the top three types of accounts that Weibo users follow; only 31.8% follow people they know personally.

WeChat V.S. Weibo

According to the survey, 93.9% of the users who quit Weibo are users of WeChat, which has  stressed on both social network and media functions.

Among users who use both WeChat and Weibo, 21.8% spend most time viewing WeChat friends’ posts, and 8.5% on reading from WeChat official accounts. In comparison, 41.3% stated that they spend more time on reading Weibo posts.

Additionally, about 62% of Weibo users only view posts and do not contribute to Weibo’s user generated content (UGC).

Clearly, Weibo is performing better in providing generic info and news than in serving as a social platform.

What can be improved

If there’s one thing that annoys many people on Weibo, it would be that new accounts may be automatically added to users’ following list without their consent.

Data shows that only 12.3% of the users may be curious enough to to look into certain accounts to see what they’re about. Yet 14.5% hate to “automatically” follow accounts that are unknown to them, something which causes many to leave Weibo for good. 73.2% said they dislike the “forced following” and would delete those unwanted subscriptions.

However, users are less hostile to ads on Weibo. 51.5% of the users do not care how ads are presented to them, as long as the ads relate to their interests. In addition, 13.8% are okay with products recommended by the celebrities they follow, and 13.7% are not against ads if they are the type where user who re-share the ad receive discount coupons.

Weibo’s 2016 Q2 financial report shows that 85.3% of the platform’s net income comes from ads.

In terms of Weibo-related purchases, only 31.2% of the users have made relevant payments. The top two expenditures are buying paid articles to read and purchasing products recommended via Weibo.

More chances to seize

When it comes to the question, “What types of Weibo posts attract you the most?” 81.5% of the users chose text posts that are attached with pictures; 59.6% chose short videos which had a total of 1.57 billion plays in 2016 Q2; and 40.8% chose posts with animated GIF images.

(Photo edited from Tencent Tech)
Popular types of posts on Weibo (Photo edited from Tencent Tech)

Only 10.4% of the users like Weibo for its live-streaming; yet considering Weibo’s user base, it could grow into a strong branch as well.

Overall, Weibo is expanding into a social media with multimedia functions to cover many fields, including travelling, movies, automobiles, cuisine, and others.

(Top photo from Tencent Tech)

Ke graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a Master's Degree in English and has worked on projects with Ipsos MORI and SDI Media. She's particularly intrigued by China's thriving technology scene and is eager to write about this flourishing industry.