"Content is King, but distribution is Queen and she wears the pants"
– Jonathan Perelman, BuzzFeed
So it applies to your social media marketing on Weibo. Creating awesome content is the first step to success, but just as much effort should be put into promoting your content to make sure it is seen by the right audience.
Your fans on Weibo could be following hundreds of other accounts, many of them creating dozens of posts every day. On such a noisy platform, getting your message heard requires you to invest some money to maximise the impact of your great content.
If you're still not persuaded, here are 3 compelling reasons to advertise on Weibo.
1. It's Effective
Weibo provides great engagement opportunities even for your ads. Via different types of ads, you can ensure your content is visible to your existing followers, or expose your post to potential followers. Your ads can have the same format as any other Weibo post -- followers can easily comment, like or repost your Weibo ads. Engagement boosts your social media performance, making the first step to successful user conversion.
2. It's Manageable
While advertising price can go rocket high on Chinese social media, Weibo ads are comparatively friendly to low budget. You can spend a relatively small amount of money to test out for different options offered by Weibo and find out what work best for you.
3. Lots of Options Available
Weibo provides 4 categories of advertising opportunities with more than 10 different Ad formats and placements. The plethora of options can be confusing for beginners, but provides great flexibility to achieve different goals even on a small budget.
While running an ad campaign on Weibo is complicated and not necessarily intuitive, there is no reason you can't crack it.
To run a successful Weibo ad campaign, follow these 6 steps:
- Decide your goal
- Select an ad format
- Match your budget
- Target your audience
- Create/select content
- Learn from the result
This is the first of our three part series on Weibo paid promotion. In this article, we'll focus on the first step of setting your goals and selecting the appropriate ad type.
Step One: Decide your Goal
Usually there are 3 possible goals Weibo ads can help you achieve:
1. Getting Engagement
By promoting your Weibo posts, you want to get more likes, comments, and reposts of your content. Engagement strengthens your social presence among existing followers, which pins down users who are most likely to be converted into a customer.
2. Gaining Followers
By promoting your posts and your Weibo account, you can attract more users to follow you. Expanding your follower base will make your message more effective, reaching out to wider audience.
3. Boosting Impressions
To boost brand awareness and elevate your brand value, you can create traditional types of digital ads, such as banner images and commercial video, on Weibo as well.
Now you've set your goal. Let's take a look at which ad formats will work best for you.
Step Two: Select an Ad Format
Here, we will take one step further to match different ad types to the three goals mentioned in step one above.
For getting engagement...
Option 1: Own a hashtag
Owning a hashtag usually does not cost anything as long as you are the first user to claim ownership of it. Once you become the host of your hashtag, you can recommend any Weibo post with the hashtag, so they are pinned on the to pin the hashtag page.
However, you can also pay to advertise for hashtag. A paid hashtag will appear on the top of all hashtags that are shown in the side bar next to the timeline.
Benefit Owning a hashtag is free, and owning a hot hashtag means you will be able to pin your own post on the top. When users search for the hashtag, they are more likely to see your post and participate into the conversation under your post, and thus boost your engagement rate.
Caution A hot hashtag can change ownership quickly. Once it's stolen by another account, you can only appeal to Sina to get the ownership back, but your chances are low.
Option 2: Fensi Toutiao (Fan Headline)
Fensi Toutiao is a paid Weibo post that will appear on the top of your followers timeline feed.
Benefit Fensi Toutiao will expose your post to followers of related accounts.
Caution Because the ad shows in the timeline, you should be careful with the content design, to make it more engaging and feel less commercial.
For gaining followers...
Option 1: Fensi Tong (Fans Tunnel)
Fensitong can reach beyond your followers. For users who don't follow your brand, your Weibo post will appear in their timeline with have a button for users to click and follow the promoted account. You can also pay to display your account name and brief intro on the side bar.
Benefit Fensitong is said to be one of the most effective ways to increase followers for brands. By segmenting target audiences you can reach the group that is most likely to follow you.
Caution In comparison to Fensi Toutiao, Fensitong reaches to a larger group of audience, and it is priced based on CPE (Cost Per Engagement) and CPM (Cost Per Mille), so if you have really good content that reaches a great user base, it's risky that you could spend a lot of money very quickly. You need to monitor and plan carefully for your ad campaign.
Option 2: Search Promotion
Search promotion inside Weibo, especially pre-load search suggestion ads are effective to trigger interest of general Weibo users. These users are also potentially interested in 热搜 (rè sōu), or hot search trends in English, provide ad options with a blue mark of "recommendation" next to it. These are shown all the time on the Weibo timeline.
Benefit Search promotion reaches the furthest. It is also used by many celebrities to grow their Weibo fan base.
Caution Compared with Fensi Toutiao and Fensitong, search promotion could be very costly. We suggest that you consider search promotion only on condition that you have a huge budget to spend.
To boost impressions...
Option 1: Display Ads
Regular ads that will appear as a banner above the timeline feeds. It works the same way as banner ads on other websites.
Option 2: Mobile app welcome screen
Welcome screen ads show and stay on the screen for several seconds when users open their Sina Weibo mobile app. The format can vary from a poster image to a video, with links that guide users to a specific landing page.
Benefit Perfect for gaining impressions. Users cannot dismiss you if they are using the mobile app (and 95% of Weibo users do).
Caution Because it's so high profile, a badly-designed welcome screen ad can be disastrous. Kotex (female hygiene product brand), for example, forced users to watch a 30- second video advertisement of their sanitary pad product…and even worse, there is no way to mute the video. The ad immediately gained Kotex negative sentiment and a lot of complaints in their Weibo post comments.
Hopefully this article helps you understand Weibo ads better. In the next article, we will demonstrate how to run an ad campaign inside Weibo's advertising system by actually spending some money promoting posts on KAWO's Weibo account.