Weibo’s “Fan Connect” advertising platform is one of our favourite promotional channels nowadays. It’s quite powerful, but only when used properly.
The reason Weibo advertising is so powerful is that you can target users based on a variety of factors, and then spread your message via their social connections. When a Weibo user’s friend likes, shares or comments on a Weibo Fan Connect ad, they’ll see the ad too. Chinese Internet users respond very strongly to brands that their friends like.
Fan Connect can be a bit tricky to operate. It requires the right creative skills as well as technical experience with Weibo. Weibo is quite a full-featured platform, with many options for paid & earned promotions.
Here I’ll share ten tips to help make your Weibo ad campaigns work.
1) Prepare the Weibo profile
Use a great bio, nice design and make sure there at least a few posts.
Check lululemon’s profile.
They’ve made full use of the space – top image, background, logo avatar, bio, many posts, one post stuck up top. That’s good.
It seems to be missing tags, which can help searchers find the account.
Did they get the branding just right? That’s up for debate. Here are two opinions.
My co-worker Stephanie thinks it’s pretty good. She’s new to the brand, and one word that popped into her mind is “cold”. She sees this as being an outdoorsy brand.
I feel it’s unadapted to China. The right-side of the page reminds me of the smog of Chinese cities. It’s tough to relate to the model, since she doesn’t look similar to the Chinese women who practice yoga, or how they want to look.
But, hey, what do I know, I’m just freestyling a blog post here. If we were going to create a page like this ourselves, it would require more research. The lululemon Weibo profile page may or may not be ideal, but it’s setup pretty nice.
2) Make sure you’re ready to interact
Weibo ads are likely to generate a lot of conversation! Make sure your team is ready to interact with others.
- Be ready to gather feedback to share with others in your organization. If you’re on a cross-organization team, discuss this ahead of time, so you know what kind of communication is necessary. In some cases we share & translate every single message with client contacts, in other cases we sort through the noise and prepare summary reports.
- Respond to comments & private messages quickly.
- If you’re selling online, be ready to speak with potential buyers in real-time, both on Weibo and on the website/platform you’re selling on.
3) Use demographic targeting
Weibo offers a variety of targeting options, including:
- Follower Relationship – Unrestricted; your followers, followers similar to certain accounts
- Age, gender and geographic region
- Interest – IT, food & drink, health, education etc.
- Device – Desktop, mobile, tablet
For example, lululemon would likely choose to target females with an interest in health. I also noticed that they’re also launching physical stores, so it would be great to create regional campaigns, especially if they could be tied to a special in-store offer.
4) Know the different payment models
Weibo Fan Connect offers two different pricing models:
- CPM – Cost per thousand impressions.
- CPE – Cost per engagement. Likes, forwards/retweets, clicks and comments all count as interactions.
Our approach is usually to test both early on and then choose the one that performs better. That being said, we usually go with CPM, because we’re almost always able to get a higher than average engagement rate.
5) Use sharp, attractive images
Below is a sample organic post.
Now, it’s always great to have images, but most of these wouldn’t cut it for an advertisement.
Here’s another post that could be used as an advertisement. (It probably is an ad, but I can’t tell for sure.)
See how the 9 square images fit together? The products are clearly shown, their brand ambassador in the center. This has clarity, brand consistency, impact. I can feel it.
6) Use Fan Lead Story (粉丝头条)
This Weibo advertising option is a bit different than Fan Connect. It places the Weibo ad at the top of the feed. There are fewer options for this ad method, but it’s easier to get started.
Below is an image from lululemon.
They’re partnering with the Vancouver Tourism Department to provide an interesting offer, and they’ve generated quite a few comments & shares.
7) Consider prize campaigns
Weibo has a prize campaign function built in. We’ve mainly used it in two ways:
- Tiny campaigns where we giveaway virtual items. It only costs a few hundred Yuan and we tend to get a few thousand extra followers. Follower quality is low compared to followers earned through more targeted advertising or organic marketing.
- Campaigns with bigger prizes that are related to the brand. Which brings us back to the previously mentioned Weibo Fan Story post. It’s actually a prize campaign, and they have some very cool prizes on there. Return flight to Vancouver? Nice!
8) Monitor results daily
Weibo provides useful tracking options that are updated regularly. Monitor the results to watch out for irregularities.
9) Change your creatives often, and test
Weibo is where people come to see what’s new, not see the same thing over and over. So it’s best to change-up the ad creatives often.
While you do this, it’s best to also test mutliple variants of the same ad.
This is the basic process:
- Create & launch multiple ad variants
- Leave the best-performing one up for a week or two.
- Use what you learned to create a new campaign, with two new variants.
Adjust the frequency of these changes based on your situation.
10) Grab your brand name early
It’s best to grab your brand name on Weibo early!
weibo.com/lululemon seems to be owned by an individual, so the real lululemon had to settle for lululemonasia. The name is longer, less-authoritative, tougher to remember. The length also makes it less shareable. It’s possible that they could actually apply to get weibo.com/lululemon for themselves. Perhaps they did, and were turned down.
11) (Bonus!) Verify your account
Although verification isn’t usually required to run ads, it will let followers know that your account is the official brand account.
The blue badge in the corner shows that lululemon did so.