The Weibo of 2018 is not the Weibo we used to know: Part 2

weibo users overseas

The Weibo of 2018 is not the Weibo we used to know. In Part 2 we look at the changes Weibo made to their feed ads services and how the Chinese government’s grip on Weibo was felt at home and abroad.

New Super Fan Tunnel: What’s so super about it?

The system update to Weibo’s advertising platform promises several advantages including:

  • Optimized resources and traffic.
  • More precise and personalised targeting.
  • More in-depth monitoring and analytics.
  • Objective focused ‘smart’ advertising campaigns targeting different segments.
  • More creative advertising types and more powerful A/B testing capabilities.

The new system upgrade also has taken measures to further protect users and brands by requiring supporting documentation for adverts mentioning brands.

What this means for brands: 

Aside from coming to terms with a whole new advertising system and functions, brands much also adapt to much stricter control and regulations. This is good news for brands selling their own products who are worried about grey market sales or unlicensed promotions, but for department stores and other retailers looking to promote partner and client brands, extra certification and verification will be required to push out advertising campaigns.

Brands advertising products or services which Weibo considers sensitive (Health & Medical Services, Overseas Investment, etc.) will also find it much trickier to promote content on Weibo.

The required approval time and restrictions on promoting posts, particularly during festivals such as 11.11, have also been increased. Something brands need to be aware of when planning campaigns.

The 19th Plan and disruptions for Foreign and Overseas Weibo users

This year the influence of Xi Jinping was felt on Chinese social media more than ever as both Weibo and WeChat froze user profiles throughout October. The earlier call for user registration using Chinese IDs or Chinese mobile numbers as well as further user regulations on Weibo left overseas users with restricted access and limited functionality. For example, throughout October and early November live streaming services were disrupted for users outside of Chinese due to ‘platform updates.’

In December Weibo was engulfed in further controversy when it came to light that certain local governments and public organisations had published notices ‘banning Christmas’. Continued government restrictions and the effect they have on social media is a key concern not only for the millions of Chinese Social Media users living and travelling outside of China but also for foreign brands marketing to China from overseas.

In 2017 we saw the often overlooked overseas Chinese consumers gaining some of the spotlight (both negative and positive) on Weibo, which could be the reason behind tightened controls.

What this means for brands:  As quoted by Bear Grylls (and the popular meme he is associated with), 2018 will be a time when brands must be prepared to Adapt, Improvise and Overcome whatever policy or platform changes may occur.  Don’t worry you don’t have to go it alone our experts are here to help! 

As Sina, Alibaba and Tencent continue to push outwards in 2018; we expect the contest for overseas Chinese engagement to intensify. Leading Chinese brands are already targeting overseas consumers and we expect foreign brands won’t be far behind! Brands will need to differentiate themselves and develop a firm understanding of their target audience in they wish to get ahead of the competition.

The final part in our Weibo 2018 series is coming your way! In the final part we will discuss:

  • Weibo’s New Algorithm: A way to keep consumers turned-on or a UX turn-off?
  • Looking Forward: What can we expect on Weibo this year?

Can’t wait to learn more? See parts 1-3 in full by clicking the here.


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