China has its own unique ecosystem of web properties. It has a passionate blogging culture where some blogs by celebrities, experts and populist pundits can attract an audience of millions. Sina.com is a portal and blogging platform. They also have the most popular micro-blogging service. I thought I would have a poke around it and try to work out how it was to use despite my complete lack of ability to speak or read Chinese. Here is my account details, feel free to friend me.
So what’s it like?
Whilst Weibo is similar to Twitter it is a much more fully-formed service. Signing up was pretty straight forward and Weibo tried to recommend 20 existing members that I should follow, my favorite being the feed for a branch of the Chinese police. They have a name which Google translates into English as ‘Starsky Guardian‘ – that alone is a cool enough reason to follow them.
I quickly managed to get the service to accept the RSS feed from this blog and convert it into alerts on the Weibo service. (In order to give a potential audience something to read, I have started carrying bilingual titles to my posts in pidgin Chinese courtesy of Google Translate. I try and boil the title down into a simple concept of two or three words and then hit the translate button). Something that I would have done on Twitter through a third-party service like ping.fm, dlvr.it or twitterfeed.
Weibo also has a built-in URI shortener, but it has no analytics for seeing how many people click on a link. So marketing campaigns on Weibo could be harder to measure than on Twitter. As far as I can tell Weibo gives you a lot less opportunity to alter the look-and-feel of your account to reflect your personal brand than the likes of Twitter.
Another absence that I noticed about Weibo was the lack of spam invites or follows from people wanting to sell me Viagra or fake watches. I suspect that Sina.com must carefully tend its community, partly to ensure government compliance, but a secondary benefit is fostering a better community online.
In conclusion I think that Weibo provides consumers with a superior experience to Twitter, but as a marketer Twitter offers more opportunity for brand communicators.