Could Weibo be the UK’s next big thing?

You would be forgiven for assuming that Weibo is some failed, preadolescent offspring of everyone’s favourite gone (but never forgotten) noughties social media platform Bebo. However, in the absence of Facebook in every Chinese city apart from Hong Kong and Macau, Weibo is in fact one of China’s most popular social media platforms, used by a quarter of the overall population, and counting.

In essence, Weibo is a Twitter-Instagram-YouTube hybrid, hugely popular in China, boasting over 431 million monthly active users. With personalities across business, entertainment and sports, this hidden gem of a social media platform has already taken the Chinese social scene by storm. It even boasts an additional website, which reports on all of the current social trends and developments in the country, called ‘What’s on Weibo’. With such success in China, this platform must surely be on the cusp of bursting into the UK social scene?

Since launching in 2009, the app accumulated around 72 million users in just three years, which is almost ten times the user base that Twitter accumulated in the same time frame in the US. Pretty staggering figures for a platform that the majority of us here in the UK have never even heard of.

Weibo is progressive and very much has its finger on the social media pulse in terms of consciously moving away from heavily text-based content and leaning more towards visuals such as live streams, photos and videos. However, there is a slight catch that explains Weibo’s unprecedented success in China and limits its plausible popularity within the UK market. Since 2009, China has blocked more social media sites than Facebook alone, including YouTube, Twitter and Vimeo, hence leaving Weibo as one of the only platforms left for the Chinese population to get their social media fix.

Having said this, the that fact remains that it is growing faster than any other major social outlet, and if a company is keen to tap in to the Chinese market, Weibo is undoubtedly the platform to do so. Companies such as Luis Vuitton, British Airways, Lancôme and Manchester United FC are ahead of the game and have already made this leap.

Despite the evident disadvantage of having more competition here in the UK, Weibo has been creeping into the newswire and with China often at the forefront of technological innovation, perhaps it is safe to assume that social innovation will also be another string to their ever-advancing bow.

Here at PHA Social, we are always looking for ‘the next big thing’ for our clients, capitalising on emerging platforms, in order for our clients to get ahead of their competitors and gain exposure in new markets. If your brand needs help with their social strategy, why not get in contact with us?

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