Access to Twitter is banned from within Chinese ISPs. So where do the half-billion Internet users in the country turn to for microblogging? Weibo (news, site) is among the most popular microblogging sites. It's so popular that its creator, Sina, wants to do an English-language launch within the year to compete with Twitter. But that's not without bringing out the big guns, as the service will be rolling out even more features, which are currently in beta.
We earlier learned that Chinese microblogging service Weibo is planning an English-language launch, and will possibly compete with Twitter. With 140 million users versus Twitter's 200 million, Weibo might be on the way to critical mass, especially with the sheer number of potential Chinese users outside of the mainland. But with new enterprise features being tested, it seems Weibo wants to make sure they launch with a bang.
More Than Just Tweets
Techweb reports that Weibo is testing features meant for business and enterprise users. The site is in Chinese, but Willis Wee of Penn-Olson gladly translates for us, citing customized layouts, analytics and scheduled posts among the features.
- Contests and polls will help with marketing and interaction. These items will appear on one's Weibo homepage for the best exposure.
- Sentiment analysis lets users track keywords within one's community of followers or the network at large. This makes online engagement easier, as you can see who's mentioning keywords relevant to your business.
- Custom layouts include embedding of videos, and customizing one's profile page. Several Weibo profiles can also be combined into a mashup of related products, services or topics.
- Analytics will include age, sex and geographical location, and will help with making sure you're on target with whom you reach out to.
- Auto-publicity lets you schedule posts to make sure they appear during "prime time" for the best exposure.
Ready for Prime Time?
Weibo might, indeed, be ready for prime time. Once it launches its English version, it would already have a solid user base, which can help with the marketing efforts through personal networking. But the question here would be whether Sina can effectively monetize Weibo's international edition.
Weibo does have more features than Twitter, but Twitter already has experience with the different business and monetization models, from sponsored/promoted tweets, business-oriented analytics and the like. In short, will an enterprise-grade Weibo account be worth paying for, and will businesses be able to take advantage of these features in order to get a decent ROI on their efforts? We'll know for sure once Weibo has its launch.