A Simple Guide to Weibo Setup & Verification for Foreign Companies

Sat, 02/22/2020 - 19:30
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Sina Weibo is one of the biggest and most popular social media platforms in China. It’s often called the “Chinese Twitter”, but it’s actually more versatile. If you need a Western comparison, it could be described as a good mix of Facebook and Instagram.

With 497 million monthly active users (as of September 2019), Weibo is one of our most recommended platforms for clients. It should be considered by companies that want to target younger audiences, as 18-30 year olds make up over 70% of Weibo’s user base

The platform is mostly used to follow social trends, celebrities (including online influencers), and more recently—news. Users also tend to search for brand profiles to keep up-to-date with the latest updates from their favourite brands as well as any recent promotions. 

We recommend Weibo to companies that want to increase their brand’s visibility, especially for consumer brands, or companies that work in the travel industry, etc. However, it can be quite difficult to build a follower base from scratch if you and your brand are new to the Chinese market. If this is the case, you may want to consider running limited-time advertising campaigns, or promoting your account through Key Opinion Leaders (influencers). Later on, we suggest organising giveaways or other online events to encourage users to interact with your posts and increase visibility.

Benefits of using Weibo:

  • Improve brand recognition and brand loyalty for your company;
  • Build a dedicated following and let them stay in touch with your latest updates;
  • Gain valuable insights from potential clients who are interested in your brand or products;
  • Increase enquiries and sales, both online and offline;
  • Improve customer service and social engagement;
  • Increase exposure and build a following by advertising based on demographics and interests, or target the followers of influencers and competitors.

Most importantly, Weibo can help your business gain more recognition as information about your brand spreads through word-of-mouth recommendations between users. This is especially powerful in a country where consumers are so sceptical of businesses.

 

But, does it make sense to set up an account for a B2B company?

As always, a great deal depends on your business profile, your ability to create content, and the industry overall. First, we will do research to see if there are any competitors present on Weibo, and if there is any industry-related news that users follow. If not, it may be worth looking into other platforms, such as Zhihu.

If your B2B company is in a “young” industry, then it is worth considering Weibo as almost everyone (below a certain age) has an account. This helps you reach your target audience during their leisure time.

Weibo is also a good place to interact with customers for both consumer and B2B companies. Users need a place to discuss their opinions (mostly dissatisfaction), and Weibo gives them this opportunity. It also provides companies with the chance to respond directly to their customers, making sure that any online complaints do not go unanswered.

Another reason to run a Weibo account is if you plan on hiring in China. We ran an advertising campaign on Weibo for Maersk Line, and in our first two months we received 9K followers and daily enquiries related to hiring.   

But, first things first. Like all marketing in China, there are some details to consider and some paperwork to do before getting started.

 

The Types of Weibo Accounts and Which to Choose

Before you set up a new account, you need to know that there are 2 different types of accounts on Weibo: personal accounts and company accounts, and both types can be additionally verified. 

There’s also a VIP upgrade that can be added to any of the aforementioned accounts.

In short, there is no reason for you not to set up a company account. It works both for companies with foreign and Chinese business licenses, and it will also allow you to advertise on Weibo. The important part is to verify your account—do not skip this step. The setup of an account is always free, and as for company verification, it is 300 CNY/year for Chinese businesses and 1,000 USD/one-time for foreign businesses.

If, for some reason, you do not have the paperwork that’s required to verify a branded account, we suggest registering a regular account, verifying it and then upgrading it to VIP.

Benefits and requirements for Weibo account setup and verification

Additional notes:

  • In the case of schools and universities, the setup and verification is longer and requires more documentation.
  • The documents, such as an application letter or a Weibo community convention etc., are usually prepared by an agency that assists with the account verification. Otherwise, you can contact Weibo’s branch in your country to obtain the documents.
  • The “Pinned post” is similar to the feature seen on Facebook and Linkedin accounts. It refers to a post that always stays on top, with any recent updates appearing below.

The anatomy of a Weibo account

 

The Process of Weibo Account Setup and Verification

After you choose the type of account that is most suitable for you, let’s make sure you have it verified. Verified Weibo accounts look more credible and have additional marketing functions as well (such as access to analytics). Also, it’s important to remember that for popular brands there will be lots of fake accounts. Only through verification, will your customers and fans know right away which account is the real one.

You can verify the account on your own, or through an agency such as NMG. Agencies have an established relationship with Sina Weibo, and they will have gone through the process many times, making everything easier and faster. However, you can still do it yourself by contacting Sina Weibo’s branch via email or WeChat, but be prepared—the process may be much longer and may require some back-and-forth communication.

 

Here’s what the process looks like if you work with us (as an example).

  1. Discuss and confirm with us what type of an account you should be setup.
  2. Issue a payment to NMG (CNY or USD).
  3. Receive a list of the required documents, confirm the name of the account and write a short bio.
  4. Send over the signed forms and other necessary documents.
  5. Get an estimated time of completion. In the meantime, confirm the choice of background and profile pictures.
  6. Verification completed. The account is handed over to you (unless you choose to have it managed by us).

Usually, the whole process takes 2-3 weeks. Additional documents and an extra 2-3 days are required if you are applying for an advertising account and the overall process is usually longer for schools and universities. However, this may vary depending on the country. 

 

FAQs regarding Weibo account setup and verification

 

Q: Will I need a Chinese certification of incorporation (business license) for the account setup?

A: No, if your company is not registered in mainland China, you can use the registration documents from your country to verify your Weibo account. If it’s just for the account setup, you don’t have to provide any business documents. But remember, for the verification step of the process, you need to provide your company’s business license.

Q: Will a Hong Kong-based business license work the same as a mainland business license? Or does it work in a similar way to a foreign business license for Sina?

A: No, companies that hold a Hong Kong business license will be regarded in the same way as those with foreign business licenses.

Q: What is the difference between a regular Weibo account and a verified Weibo account? How big is the difference?

A: The main difference is that a verified Weibo account has additional marketing functions compared to a regular account; you can see the differences in the table above.
It is also about reliability. Users are less likely to trust unverified accounts and you can expect copycat accounts to appear as well.  

Q: How long does it take to secure a Weibo account through Nanjing Marketing Group? Will it be faster than approaching Sina directly?

A: Let's use the company account setup and verification as an example. If you can provide us with all the required documents immediately, the whole process can be completed in approximately 10 working days.. We have our own contacts within Sina and as we have extensive experience working with them, it would be a little bit faster than if you approached Sina yourselves.

Q: Are Sina Hong Kong and Sina in mainland China different? Is the account visible in areas outside of China?

A: Sina Hong Kong and Sina in mainland China are totally identical, and your account will be accessible and visible to users both on the mainland and outside of China.

Q: Will I have to pay for anything else besides the account verification?

A: There are additional costs if you want to launch the VIP feature, and run paid ad campaigns.  Supplementary features such as l analytics access also require extra payment, but we do not recommend paying for that (>6,000 CNY/year).

Q: Can my Weibo account be used to advertise on Weibo? Or is that a separate account?

A: Of course, as long as it is verified. Currently, almost all Weibo accounts (except in some specific industries) can apply to launch “Fan Connect” advertising on Weibo. All it takes is some additional paperwork. But it’s always changing, so it’s best to contact us first to ask whether your business can be advertised. We also recommend submitting your trademark license during the advertising application process.

 

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Comments

I'm from Pakistan, can I sign up if I don't have phone number of a country listed in the phone number section?

Hi Ahmed,

You should be able to register using your e-mail address.

Hi,

I am trying to register an official account using email, but when I push the 'sign up now' button I then have to fill in my phone number (with area code) to get a activation code. Norway, where we are located, is not on the list. Do you know why this is required when we originally choose to use email to sign up?

Hi Petter,

I'm afraid for the official account registration you do need a phone number. E-mail is just for signing up/picking a user name.

What you can do:
1. Try using Facebook to register.
2. Manually typing country code in front of the Norwegian number (for some it worked, but could have just been a loophole).
3. Find someone with a Chinese phone number to help you - either an individual or an agency, like us ;-)

Please, if you tried #1 or #2, let us know if it worked for you!

Hello :)!

I would love to make a personal weibo account, but since I am from Austria there isnt an Option for me :(.
Could he help me out? Thank you very much.

Best regards,

Sonia

Hi Sonia,

In theory, Weibo allows setting up an account with a foreign number. In practice, it's more tricky. If you tried your Austrian number and it didn't work, there are two options:

  • Getting a Chinese phone number.
  • Using another account to set up Weibo. My Weibo account, for example, is set up with my WeChat account, which is registered with my Polish number.

Hope it helps!

I was able to FINALLY login to Weibo using my WeChat. However, on Weibo's website where I enter the login information. It is indicating that they don't recognize my phone number, ID, or username. I have a feeling that my Weibo acc is not set up all the way after being able to login using WeChat....I have the app in English but most of the app is still in CHINESE (including account settings). Is there anyway i can get some help? I would like to view Weibo on the website as well....

Weibo used to support WeChat login on the desktop version as well, but now I only see QQ. You may try setting up the account with a QQ account, but cannot assure it'll work.

Weibo is primarily a Chinese platform.

I tries to sign up weibo via mobile phone.In personal information process I already put gender and date of birth.After I submit nothing happen.In few minute later it shown that can't appply.I have to rerun the process again but there has a message that my phones number tries many time. I can't sign up so what should I do? Please advice.

Hey! Have you tried signing up using both mobile number and email?

Where are you located? Some countries have had trouble receiving text message verification codes from Weibo lately. We've bumped into the issue as well, and reported it. Not sure when they're going to fix it.

Hi,

I hope everything is fine.

I'm from the Philippines, i would like to know if there are ways to change the email address used in account creation for Weiboo. And, is it the personal and verified account have the similar process in modifying it's email address?

your feedback is deeply appreciate.

Many thanks,

Hi Ronna,

You can't change the e-mail address.

Hi, I would like to register a regular company account at Weibo but I can't find any register button for this, it seems like only can register verified company account

Hi Andreas,

There's not such a thing as a Weibo company account. You can register a regular account and later verify it with your company business license. But first you have to register a regular account anyway.

Can a Chinese company register a Weibo verified account for more than one foreign companies?

Foreign companies can verify an account on Weibo with their foreign business entity.

Is there a way to change my phone number on Sina weibo? I want to change my phone number because i am getting a new phone. In mobile i can't change it because it always say invalid phone number. I use a mobile in the USA

Hi Jane,

Do you still have access to the old number? If so, changing the number is quite easy. Weibo will send you a QR code to the old number.

If you cannot access the old phone number that the account is initially set up with, you need to contact Weibo's customer support and prove to them you're the person.

Hello,
my name is Jean-Charles, I'm French and I have created a company based in Hong Kong (Fayuzenmeshuo Limited), and a website (fayuzenmeshuo.com) for Chinese people to learn or/and improve their French.
I'd like to create a Weibo company account in order to be viewable in China.
Could you please help me?
Jean-Charles Margnac

Hi Jean-Charles,

Could you please email us at team@nanjingmarketinggroup.com?

Thanks,
Wiki

I’ve been trying to register on Weibo for a few days now, but I cannot seem to receive an SMS verification code. I’m in the U.S., so my extension is listed in the options and my number should, theoretically, be usable, but I haven’t received anything. I’ve tried using Facebook to register, but that also did not work, and I was unable to go through QQ either, having run into the same issue with my number not working. I don’t have acess to a Chinese phone number, so I have not been able to try that, but I have tried with the phone numbers of a few friends, all of which also could not receive the SMS message with the verification code. Weibo’s customer service site has been of no help. Is there anything else I could try?

Hi, I have a Weibo account for years but haven't used it for some time. I tried to login last night and today -- I wasn't able to use my username. When I used my email address, I was able to use my password to proceed to the next step. However, I was unable to receive a verification code via email. In addition, I was unable to get to the Sino website by scanning the QR code by using WeChat and another scanning app. I went as far as attempting to create a brand new account but failed because I was unable to receive anything by using all the options provided, i.e. email, SMS and QR code. My country is on the list that is allowed to use Weibo. Help!!

I have tried numerous times to register on Weibo.com. Even using an email registration, it requires a phone number for verification and keeps saying that the maximum number of attempts has been reached, but I have only tried once. I tried using the mobile phone method of registering but it won't send me the verification code. Please help me.

Hi Jeff,

The only answer that comes to my mind is downloading the mobile Weibo app and signing up using your WeChat account. We've discussed it over a chat, but I'd like to leave this answer here should anyone else had a similar issue.

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