From Weibo to WeChat, and to Weibo Again
About 5 years ago when the big data team in BFC was developing an integrated platform for businesses to manage their digital performance, leads generation and social CRM in China, WeChat (Weixin in China) was still in its V4.0 with a Beta version to launch its official accounts services. For many of our clients, then, Weibo was the most important source of sales leads and owned media to interact with customers and potential customers. As an open platform like Twitter, businesses can set up Weibo accounts and share information with followers easily and quickly. Users are there for kinds of news and information, as well as sharing their own stories with friends and others.
When WeChat officially kicked off its official account services in the middle of 2013, the game changed. It offers individual users a new way to subscribe to news and information services. From then on, WeChat successfully stole the users, not only individual users but also businesses, from Weibo. And since then, more and more passive comments were heard on the future of Weibo, especially when WeChat gave a green light to advertise on its Moments since 2015. No one can deny that WeChat does grow its active users very well with its rich functions. The words spread quickly around the world when the number of its active users exceeded half a billion. Many clients in Canada asked us to do advertising for them on WeChat. We did. The results were good enough compared to the traditional digital media, printed media, and TV. Since the middle of 2017, HOWEVER, we started to question the effectiveness of WeChat when there were more and more noises. First, the subscribers to those public accounts are more and more distracted by the soaring numbers of accounts. Averagely, only 5-10% of subscribers would be reached for each. Second, it’s too complicated to track which country or cities these readers are living. The problem is more challenging to those public accounts providing local information services to immigrants and international students for more than two years. Many do not unsubscribe the services when they move back to China or to other cities. And when an article was shared by certain subscribers to their Moments, their friends in other regions would click into it and the views were meaningless to the advertiser. Some clients tried the Moments advertising with targeting and programmatic buying. It failed as well given the high bar of minimum spending and fewer options on targeting.
Since last September, we started to convince the clients to use Weibo advertising. At the first beginning, most of our clients doubted it, particularly those clients who have Chinese team members. We let Weibo itself to convince the clients. The trend of its stock price has told the story. It has rebounded since 2016 with the fast growth of its advertising business.
With our long term tracking on Weibo performance and continuously improving targeting techs, our team brought Weibo feed advertising, geo-targeting, and demographic targeting to the clients outside China. The results are exciting.
- The campaign could reach more than 180,000 Chinese living in Canada in one week and 400,000 in one month.
- The click through rate could be up to 47%.
- 40 sales leads were collected in one week with a spending of $600.
We are so happy to see that Weibo advertising are doing so well in serving clients outside China. And we are looking forward to seeing that WeChat may offer more friendly services to overseas clients.