Microblogs in China a Popular Auto Marketing Tool


Jeremy Detgen

In China, a microblog site called Sina Weibo has become one of the most popular social media platforms in the country, according to Yuong Su, editor-in-chief of the Auto Channel, which is the host site for Weibo on China’s major Chinese-language portal Sina.com. The microblog site has 200 million registered users.

During the recent 2011 Automotive Internet Roundtable in Las Vegas, NV, Yuong Su talked about the benefits and value of Weibo—which is similar to Twitter, but with Chinese characteristics—to the country’s passenger-vehicle buyers in addition to automakers and dealers who want to promote and market new vehicles in this burgeoning market.

Some key takeaway points and statistics about the microblog and how it is being used as a marketing tool are summarized:

What kind of reach do these portals offer in China?

• China auto sales reached 18.88 million in 2010.

• China has 486 million registered internet users.

• The internet penetration rate in China is 36.2%.

• A majority, or 85%, of vehicle purchase intenders in China use the internet

as the primary source of vehicle information.

SinaAuto launched in 2000. With 1.8 million unique visitors a year, Weibo is China’s largest online auto portal.

What is Sina Weibo all about?

• Some 200 million users spend more than an average of 60 minutes per day on Weibo.

• During the Shanghai Auto Show, most auto companies used Weibo as a platform for marketing. About 720,000 posts were made during the time of the auto show.

• Six OEMs used the site as a marketing platform to launch seven campaigns and offer five new cars as prizes. More than 30 OEMs leveraged Weibo for promotional campaigns.

• Weibo is playing an increasingly important role as a marketing platform for the auto industry.

• Some 800 journalists, 370 trade media, 400 mid-level or senior executives, 4,000 dealers, and 50 OEMs have accounts on Weibo.

• In addition, five Chinese portals have launched Weibo services.

• Although the entire site is in Chinese, click on Weibo.com to see how the platform looks and works.

What is the future outlook?

• The hope is to run two platforms in parallel: a tangible platform*, Sina’s portal, and intangible social platform. This will help improve branding efficiency, reach and capture new customers to grow business, and build an ecosystem—which will advance exchanges within the industry.

• Customers can build relationships with other enthusiasts and learn more about auto products via word-of-mouth on Sina’s Weibo. This is a new connection for China’s consumers and it will also be a benefit to automakers and to dealers.Jeremy Detgen, research associate, Media and Marketing Research at J.D. Power and Associates

*Note: Essentially, Sina’s platform is tangible because it is a concrete product or service in which they control content, etc. The social media platform is controlled by others, to a degree, and manages relationship and emotions as opposed to providing a tangible product or service, hence it would be intangible.

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