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Social CRM works for Sina Weibo; goes to Thailand

Why is social CRM a big thing to watch out for and to implement for China’s Sina Weibo? It will drive the next round of growth, both for the social network and its customers. “Social CRM should be able to give you clearer objectives to devise a strategy that enables a more effective social campaign, encourage purchase and deliver tangible results,” says Ken Hong, General Manager, Weibo Marketing Strategy, Sina.

Started in 2009, Sina Weibo is the answer to Facebook and Twitter in China. Since beginning as a microblogging site, the company has transformed itself to offer a blend of services that mimics the global social networks, and some more.

Today it is a successful brand across China with 135 million interactions taking place daily. In fact the Chinese social network has been noticing a greater user base emerging from the tier 1 and tier 2 cities in the country. Sina Weibo is currently the largest social networking website in China with 368 million registered users as of June 2012.

Weibo sees maximum numbers of its users are young adults who love to discuss news, products, brands, and trends over the network. According to Hong 85 percent of its users look for news, products and brands on the Internet, and 66 percent of the social media users want to hear from brands over that channel. Interestingly 54 percent of these social media users like to do online purchases.

“That is when social CRM becomes important. It helps in understanding the customers and users through their social responses. We can use this to turn our fans to BFFs (best fans forever) and then drive towards social commerce and make them buyers,” adds Hong. He has found that for every engaged fan there are there three non-engaged fans. In fact brands should focus beyond just accumulating fans. The aim should always be how to encourage the fans towards social commerce.

Weibo itself used social CRM to know its users in a more holistic manner. “While the solution itself is in an early stage for the company, but it also helped it to understand that 70 percent of our crowd was coming to the site via mobile. So we decided to go for a reorganisation of our company to put more focus on the mobile platform. The company took the mobile direction,” explains Hong. The result was Weibo Passbook, Weibo Pay, and a presence in the mobile platform.

Now it is looking at Social CRM to drive towards social commerce. Hong agrees that in terms of social CRM there is lot to be done, can be done. “Only a small aspect of social CRM is in application today,” he says.

Even as the company is looking at better monetising its services and offer its users a better experience, it has gone to Thailand in search of new set of clients. The aim is to pull in more business into China. Weibo has positioned itself as the gateway to the Chinese business to the brands in Thailand. It is driving this under the new concept: “Amazing Wei Thai-land: An Easy Way to Open the Chinese Market”

Weibo has tied up with a local Thai partner Jiaranai Entertainment to set up Weibo Thailand. The new company plans to spend THB 10 million on marketing, and grow around 20 percent annually in the market.

In the beginning Weibo Thailand is looking to connect with Chinese tourists in Thailand. “60 percent of Chinese visiting Thailand are not first-time tourists. Thailand’s tourism industry is the priority for us to focus on. The next focus industry is exports. By the end of the first year of operations, Weibo Thailand aims to have 1.6 million active accounts in Thailand. That is double the current number of active Weibo users in the country, who are mostly Chinese,” said Rui Guo, managing director of Jiaranai Entertainment.

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