Sina Weibo

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Sina Weibo
Sina Weibo.svg
Type of site
microblogging
Available inSimplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese
English (partial)
OwnerSina Corp (operated by Weibo Corporation)
Websiteweibo.com
Alexa rankDecrease 19 (As of 13 June 2019)[1]
CommercialYes
Launched14 August 2009; 10 years ago (2009-08-14)[2]
Current statusActive
Sina Weibo
Chinese
Literal meaningSina Microblog

Sina Weibo (NASDAQWB) (新浪微博) is a Chinese microblogging (weibo) website. Launched by Sina Corporation on August 14, 2009, it is one of the biggest social media platforms in China,[2] with over 445 million monthly active users as of Q3 2018. The platform has been a huge financial success, with surging stocks, lucrative advertising sales and high revenue and total earnings per quarter.[3][4] At the start of 2018, it surpassed the US$30 billion market valuation mark for the first time.[5][6]

In March 2014, Sina Corporation announced a spinoff of Weibo as a separate entity and filed an IPO under the symbol WB.[7] Sina carved out 11% of Weibo in the IPO, with Alibaba owning 32% post-IPO.[8] The company began trading publicly on April 17th, 2014.[9]

In March 2017, Sina launched Sina Weibo International Version. This new version has a clean, concise user interface design, as well as an ad-free feature; while its volume is very small, only occupying one-fifth of the space of the original, it still performs all of the original's functions.

In March 2018, Sina Weibo reached 400 million active users.[10]

Name[edit]

"Weibo" (微博) is the Chinese word for "microblog". Sina Weibo launched its new domain name weibo.com on April 7th, 2011, deactivating and redirecting from the old domain, t.sina.com.cn, to the new one. Due to its popularity, the media sometimes refers to the platform simply as "Weibo," despite the numerous other Chinese microblogging/weibo services including Tencent Weibo (腾讯微博), Sohu Weibo (搜狐微博), and NetEase Weibo (网易微博).[11]

Background[edit]

Sina Weibo is a platform based on fostering user relationships in order to share, disseminate and receive information. Through either the website or the mobile app, users can upload pictures and videos publicly for instant sharing, with other users being able to comment with text, pictures and videos, or use a multimedia instant messaging service. The company initially invited a large number of celebrities to join the platform at the beginning, and has since invited many media personalities, government departments, businesses and non-governmental organizations to open accounts as well for the purpose of publishing and communicating information. To avoid the impersonation of celebrities, Sina Weibo uses verification symbols; celebrity accounts have an orange letter "V" and organizations' accounts have a blue letter "V". Sina Weibo has more than 500 million registered users[12]; out of these, 313 million are monthly active users, 85% use the Weibo mobile app, 70% are college-aged, 50.10% are male and 49.90% are female. There are over 100 million messages posted by users each day. With 90 million followers, actress Xie Na holds the record for the most followers on the platform. Despite fierce competition among Chinese social media platforms, Sina Weibo has proven to be the most popular; part of this success may be attributable to the wider use of mobile technologies in China.[13]

History[edit]

After the July 2009 Ürümqi riots, China shut down most domestic microblogging services, including Fanfou, the very first weibo service. Many popular non-China-based microblogging services like Twitter, Facebook, and Plurk have since been blocked. Sina Corporation CEO Charles Chao considered this to be an opportunity,[14][15] and on August 14th, 2009, Sina launched the tested version of Sina Weibo;[16] basic functions including message, private message, comment and repost were made available that September. A Sina Weibo–compatible API platform for developing third-party applications was launched on July 28th, 2010.[2]

On December 1st, 2010, the website experienced an outage, which administrators later said was due to the ever-increasing numbers of users and posts.[17] Registered users surpassed 100 million in February 2011.[10] Since March 23rd, 2011, t.cn has been used as Sina Weibo's official shortened URL in lieu of sinaurl.cn. On April 7th, 2011, weibo.com replaced t.sina.com.cn as the new main domain name used by the website. The official logo was also updated.[18] In June 2011, Sina announced an English-language version of Sina Weibo would be developed and launched, though content would still be governed by Chinese law.[19]

On January 11th, 2013, Sina Weibo and Alibaba China (a subsidiary of Alibaba Group) signed a strategic cooperation agreement.[20]

With more and more foreign celebrities using Sina Weibo, language translation has become an urgent need for Chinese fans who wish to communicate with their idols online; while many already understand English, most users still struggle with Korean. In January 2013, Sina Weibo and NetEase.com announced that they had reached a strategic cooperation agreement. When users browse foreign language content, they can now directly obtain translation results through the YouDao Dictionary.[citation needed]

The Sina Weibo financial report in February 2013 showed that its total revenue was approximately US$66 million and that the number of registered users had exceeded the 500 million mark.

In April 2013, Sina officially announced that Sina Weibo had signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Alibaba. The two sides conducted in-depth cooperation in areas such as user account interoperability, data exchange, online payment, and internet marketing. At the same time, Sina announced that Alibaba, through its wholly owned subsidiary, had purchased the preferred shares and common shares issued by Sina Weibo Company for US$586 million, which accounted for approximately 18% of Weibo's fully diluted and diluted total shares.[21]

Timeline[edit]

First Stage (August 2009 – October 2011)[edit]

August 2009 – Sina Corporation launches Sina Weibo

Early 2010 – Introduction of API open platform..

October 2010 – Sina Weibo launches China's first small talk contest

November 2010 – Sina Micro-group begins testing

Second Stage (October 2011 – first half of 2014)[edit]

January 2012 – Introduction of "quiet attention" feature

January 2013 – Introduction of "close friend" function for the enhancement of private social circles

February 2013 – Sina Corporation reports total revenue of about US$66 million, with more than 500 million registered users and 46.2 million daily active users

April 2013 – Alibaba acquires an 18% stake in Sina Weibo

August 2013 – Launch of Sina Weibo Taobao, enabling account sharing

March 2014 – Sina Weibo renamed "Weibo"

April 2014 – Weibo listed on NASDAQ

Third Stage (second half of 2014 – first half of 2017)[edit]

November 2016 – 140-character limit increased to 2,000 words

December 2016 – Weibo reports 313 million monthly active users and 139 million daily active users

October 2018 – Weibo begins to draft a new version of its mobile app for children that prohibits disturbing content

Ownership[edit]

On April 9th, 2013, Alibaba Group announced that it would acquire 18% of Sina Weibo for US$586 million, with the option to buy up to 30% in the future;[22] Alibaba exercised this option when Weibo was listed on NASDAQ in April 2014.[23]

Users[edit]

According to iResearch's report on March 30th, 2011, Sina Weibo had 56.5% of China's microblogging market based on active users and 86.6% based on browsing time over competitors such as Tencent Weibo and Baidu.[24] The top 100 users had over 485 million followers combined. More than 5,000 companies and 2,700 media organizations in China use Sina Weibo. The site is maintained by a growing microblogging department of 200 employees responsible for technology, design, operations, and marketing.[25]

Sina executives invited and persuaded many Chinese celebrities to join the platform. Users now include Asian celebrities, movie stars, singers, famous business and media figures, athletes, scholars, artists, organizations, religious figures, government departments, and officials from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Macau,[14][15][26][27] as well as some famous foreign individuals and organizations, including Kevin Rudd,[28] Boris Johnson,[29] David Cameron,[30] Narendra Modi,[31] Toshiba,[32] and the German national football team. Like Twitter, Sina Weibo has a verification program for known people and organizations. Once an account is verified, a verification badge is added beside the account name.

According to research by Sina Corporation, the number of active users reached over 400 million by Q1 2018, making Sina Weibo the 7th platform with at least 400 million active users, and daily usage increased by 21%.[33]

Features[edit]

Many of Sina Weibo's features resemble those of Twitter. A user may post with a 140-character limit (increased to 2,000 as of January 2016 with the exception of reposts and comments),[34] mention or talk to other people using "@UserName" formatting, add hashtags, follow other users to make their posts appear in one's own timeline, re-post with "//@UserName" similar to Twitter's retweet function "RT @UserName", select posts for one's favorites list, and verify the account if the user is a celebrity. URLs are automatically shortened using the domain name t.cn, akin to Twitter's t.co. Official and third-party applications can access Sina Weibo from other websites or platforms.

Hashtags differ slightly between Sina Weibo and Twitter, using the double-hashtag "#HashName#" format (the lack of spacing between Chinese characters necessitates a closing tag). Users can own a hashtags by requesting hashtag monitoring; the company reviews these requests and responds within one to three days. Once a user owns a hashtag, they have access to a wide variety of functions available only to them on the condition that they remain active (less than 1 post per calendar week revokes these privileges).[35]

Additionally, users are allowed to insert graphical emoticons or attach their own images, music and/or video files in every post. Comments appear as a list below each post; a commenter can also choose to re-post the comment, quoting the whole original post, to their own page.

Unregistered users can only browse a few posts by verified accounts. Neither unverified account pages nor comments to posts by verified accounts are accessible to unregistered users.

Although often described as a Chinese version of Twitter, Sina Weibo combines elements of Twitter, Facebook, and Medium, along with other social media platforms. Sina Weibo users interact more than Twitter users do, and while many topics that go viral on Weibo also originate from the platform itself, Twitter topics often come from outside news or events.[36]

Trending Topics

Sina Weibo's "trending topics" is a list of current popular topics based partly on tracking user participation and partly on the preference of Weibo staff. Once a topic is trending, it often becomes a heated issue and can have wide-ranging social influence; as such, the list has reshaped how Chinese people relate to the news media.[37]

Verification[edit]

Sina Weibo has an verification policy, much like Twitter's account verification, for confirming the identity of a user (celebrities, organizations etc.). Once a user is verified, a colorful V is appended to their username; individuals receive an orange V, while organizations and companies receive a blue V. A graph and declaration certifying the verification appear on verified user pages. There are several kinds of verifications: personal, college, organization, verification for official accounts (government departments, social media platforms and famous companies), and Weibo Master (linked with phone numbers and followers). When the number of microblogs reaches a threshold, users can apply for the verification of "Weibo Master."

Clients[edit]

Sina produces mobile applications for various platforms to access Sina Weibo, including Android, BlackBerry OS, iOS, Symbian S60, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone.

Sina has also released a desktop client for Microsoft Windows under the product name Weibo Desktop.[38]

International versions[edit]

Sina Weibo is available in both simplified and traditional Chinese characters. The site also has versions[39] catering to users from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Weibo is now developing its international edition in English and other languages. On January 9th, 2018, the company ran a week-long public test of its English edition.

Sina Weibo's official iPhone and iPad apps are available in English.

Weibo International supports existing Weibo accounts and allows Facebook accounts to link to the platform; users can also use their mobile phone number (including international mobile phone numbers) to register new accounts.[40]

Weibo Stories[edit]

One of the most recent features of Weibo is Stories. "Weibo's stories" is a video function allowing users to record a video and save them in a separate "Story" menu in their profile page.[41]

Weibo VLOG[edit]

Weibo has also launched a new "Vlog" function. Now, every video with a hashtag VLOG will be available in the main search page under "VLOG" sub-menu.[42]

Other services[edit]

Weilingdi (微领地, literally, micro fief) is another service bundled with Weibo. Similar to Foursquare, Weilingdi is a location-based social networking website for mobile devices; the site grew out of Sina's 2011 joint venture with GeoSentric's GyPSii.[43] Sina's Tuding (图钉) photo-sharing service, similar to Instagram, is also produced by the same joint venture. Sina Lady Weibo (新浪女性微博) specializes in women's interests. Weibo Data Center enables users to access data analysis about a topic of their choice, Sina Weibo's official data, and demographic information. Sina Weibo has also recently released a desktop version available for free download at its website.

Censorship[edit]

In cooperation with internet censorship in China, Sina sets strict controls over the posts on its services.[44][45] Posts with links using some URL shortening services (including Google's goo.gl), or containing blacklisted keywords,[46][47] are not allowed on Sina Weibo. Posts on politically sensitive topics are deleted after manual checking.

Sina Weibo is believed to employ a distributed, heterogeneous strategy for censorship that has a great amount of defense-in-depth, which ranges from keyword list filtering to individual user monitoring. Nearly 30% of the total deletion events occur within 5–30 minutes, and nearly 90% of the deletions happen within the first 24 hours.[48]

On March 9th, 2010, the posts by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei at Sina Weibo to appeal for information on the 2008 Sichuan earthquake going public were deleted and his account was closed by the site administrator. Attempts to register accounts with usernames alluding to Ai Weiwei were blocked.[49] On March 30th, 2010, Hong Kong singer Gigi Leung blogged about the jailed Zhao Lianhai, an activist and father to a 2008 Chinese milk scandal victim; that post was also deleted by an administrator shortly thereafter.[50]

On March 16th, 2012, all users of Sina Weibo in Beijing were told to register with their real names.[51]

Starting on March 31st, 2012, the comment function of Sina Weibo was shut down for three days, along with Tencent QQ.[52][53]

In May 2012, Sina Weibo introduced new restrictions on the content its users can post.[54]

In October 2012, Sina Weibo heavily censored discussion of the Foxconn strikes in October 2012.[55]

On June 4th, 2013, Sina Weibo blocked the terms "Today," "Tonight," "June 4," and "Big Yellow Duck." If a user searched using these terms, a message would appear stating that according to relevant laws, statutes and policies, the results of the search couldn't be shown. This censorship was implemented because a photoshopped version of Tank Man which swapped all tanks in the photo with the sculpture Rubber Duck had been circulating on Twitter.[56][57]

According to a BBC News report, the decreasing number of users since 2014 can be attributed both to the crackdown by the Chinese government on the use of aliases to create accounts and to the rising threat from competitor WeChat.[58]

On September 8th, 2017, Weibo gave an ultimatum to its users to verify their accounts with their real names by September 15th.[59]

On February 18th, 2018, Sina Weibo provided a 'Comment moderation' function for both head users and official members. Comments received after opening this feature will not be displayed immediately, instead requiring approval from moderators. Users can utilize this feature to avoid illegal content appearing in their comment section.[60]

Despite the censorship, Sina Weibo and weibo services in general are seen as allowing greater freedom of speech compared to other Chinese media formats.[14][61] Criticism against the Chinese government is more widespread on Sina Weibo and other weibo services. After the July 2011 Wenzhou train collision, many dissatisfied posts concerning governmental corruption appeared on Sina Weibo.[62] Many Chinese officials have also opened Weibo accounts so as to give their own version of events.[26]

Promotions[edit]

Weibo Paid Ads[edit]

Average organic post view is around 10% – 15% on Weibo. In order to attract more followers, there are 3 types of paid ads options available:[63]

  1. Sponsored Post: Promotes to current followers and/or potential followers.
  2. Weibo Tasks: Allows advertisers to pay for other accounts to repost, which in turn reach target audiences.
  3. Fensi Tong (粉丝通): The most well known paid advertising option on Weibo; allows more specific targeting options, including interests, gender, location and devices. Advertisers can choose between CPM (cost per mille; 0.5CNY per thousand exposure) and CPC (cost per engagement; 0.5CNY per effective engagement). Companies or organizations often use Fensitong and pay well-known Sina Weibo users (usually those with more than 1 million followers) to advertise to their followers.[64]

Livery airplane[edit]

On June 8th, 2011, Tianjin Airlines unveiled an Embraer E-190 jet in special Sina Weibo livery and named it "Sina Weibo plane" (新浪微博号). It is the first commercial airplane to be named after a website in China.[65]

Villarreal CF[edit]

In January 2012, Sina Weibo also announced that they would be sponsoring Spanish football club Villarreal CF in its match with FC Barcelona, to increase its fanbase in China.[66]

CCTV 2018 New Year's Gala[edit]

On February 5, 2018, Weibo officially announced that it will become the exclusive partner of the New Media Social Platform of the CCTV Spring Festival Gala in 2018 to attract more Chinese people worldwide to use Weibo.[67]

Statistics[edit]

Sina Weibo's official accounts[edit]

  1. Weibo's Secretary: 194,144,293
  2. Weibo's Service Center: 180,564,151
  3. Weibo's Staff: 155,444,287

Most popular accounts (individuals)[edit]

As of April 19, 2019, the following ten individuals managed the most popular accounts (name handle in parentheses) and the number of followers:

  1. Xie Na (xiena): 123,778,128
  2. He Jiong (hejiong): 111,602,450
  3. Yang Mi (yangmiblog): 103,832,756
  4. Angelababy (realangelababy): 100,286,091
  5. Chen Kun (chenkun): 94,198,533
  6. Vicky Zhao (zhaowei): 86,355,718
  7. Zhao Liying (zhaoliying): 84,784,382
  8. Yao Chen (yaochen): 81,611,121
  9. Deng Chao (dengchao): 77,778,232
  10. Ruby Lin (linxinru): 76,569,706

Record-setting posts[edit]

On September 13th, 2013, the unverified handle "veggieg" (widely believed to be Faye Wong) posted a message suggesting that she had divorced her husband. The message was commented and re-posted more than a million times in four hours. The record was broken on March 31st, 2014 by Wen Zhang, who posted a long apology admitting an extramarital affair when his wife Ma Yili was pregnant with their second child. This message was commented and re-posted more than 2.5 million times in 10 hours. (Ma's response generated 2.18 million responses in 12 hours.)[68] On June 22nd, 2014, TFBOYS member Wang Junkai was awarded a Guinness World Record title for a Weibo post that was reposted 42,776,438 times.[69] Luhan holds the Guinness World Record for most comments.[70]

See also[edit]

  • Tencent Weibo
  • FreeWeibo – the uncensored and anonymous version of Sina Weibo, operated by an unaffiliated third party

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External links[edit]