Tricks of the Trade
Craig joined Weibo about a year ago and, while gaining a pretty huge number of followers in a short amount of time, has also come to the conclusion that when it comes to Weibo, it’s better to be personal.
“The thing about the Chinese followers is that they really take equity in the person they follow,” she explained. While on Twitter, she’ll tweet or “braindump” up to 20 times per day without really thinking. However, on Weibo, those frivolous, inconsequential thoughts won’t cut it. “They would say, ‘This woman is so shallow; who is this girl?’ I’ve found that they like that I have a son and I’m married and I’m traveling and working. They like quality tweets about what you’re doing in your life.” In general, she’s more careful and thoughtful about what she says and says friends including Chinese Vogue editors have admitted spending a whole day thinking about what to say on Weibo.
Weibo users are also not fond of shameless promotion–something a lot of brands are guilty of on social media. When Craig posted on Weibo about a skin whitening product that she genuinely liked, her commenters accused her of trying to sell the product. She learned her lesson, and now she almost never even Weibos links to BagSnob. “That way each Weibo tweet is so much more influential, so if I do post something I love on Weibo, they know I actually love it.”
We also consulted Chinese model-of-the-moment Liu Wen, who, with a whopping 3.3 million followers is currently the most followed fashion industry individual on Weibo. She joined almost three years ago and attributes her huge following to talking about topics that she is actually interested in and having her own style and voice. “I treat my Weibo like a public diary,” she explained. She also uses Weibo as a way to update and keep in touch with her pre-existing friends and huge Chinese fanbase.
Wen also likes that Weibo allows users a peek into lifestyles different from their own, which could explain the level interest from Weibo users in others’ personal lives, especially that of a world-traveling fashion model. “For me, Weibo isn’t just a social network; it’s also a lifestyle encyclopedia, because there are people from so many different backgrounds,” she said. She has a Twitter as well, on which she often posts English translations of the same things she says on Weibo. In a way, Twitter for Wen, a China native, is what Weibo is for the non-Chinese–something to experiment with and explore.