Marketing Micro Blogging is ‘the Next Big Thing’

More than 1,000 Nokia N8 smartphones were booked after a special online press conference completely held on social networking websites. Provided to China Daily

New users to jump from 8 million to 145 million in only two years

Micro-blogging is set to become the next battlefield in China’s online advertisement market as the Twitter-like practice becomes more popular among Chinese netizens.

Micro-blogging was still at a nascent stage in China last year, but user numbers are expected to exceed 100 million next year as it is quickly becoming the new marketing tool for multinational companies such as Nokia, Dell and Lenovo to promote their brands and products, industry sources say.

“Micro blogs provide a new tool for us to interact with our potential consumers here in China,” says Yang Weidong, head of Marketing Activation of Nokia Greater China.

Yang says that because Chinese users are more open to accepting this new form of communication compared with users in other countries, the Finnish cell phone maker will increase its investment in marketing Chinese micro blog services in the following years.

In October, Nokia launched unusual press conferences that were held completely on social networking websites, mainly in micro-blogging services.

Micro-bloggers could wear 3D eyepieces to watch Nokia’s online 3D promotion video and interact with the company through its micro blog on Sina Weibo, China’s biggest micro-blogging website.

According to Yang, at least 400,000 users marked this micro blog event and more than 1,000 Nokia N8 handsets had been booked after the event, which was considered a “very good” experiment for using micro blogs to promote the brand and products.

Marketing on micro-blogging services is not unique to Nokia. US PC maker Dell also started using micro blogs to promote itself in China.

Dell reportedly used the US micro-blogging website Twitter and sold millions of dollars in the US.

Earlier this year, the company opened its Chinese micro blog on Sina Weibo. Since then, the companies have launched several online campaigns to promote products online, which received “hundreds of thousands” of visits and responses among Chinese micro-blogging users.

According to figures from domestic research firm Analysys International, China’s micro-blogging users reached 8 million last year, accounting for a tiny proportion of China’s 420 million Internet users. But the number surpassed 75 million by last month.

The Beijing-based research firm forecast that the number of China’s micro-bloggers will reach 145 million by the end of next year.

“The increasing number of mobile Internet users will make micro-blogging more common among the Chinese,” says Yu Ming, an analyst for IT analysis company Dratio.

Yu also says more companies are starting to realize the commercial value of micro-blogging services.

“With the number of Chinese users of the service continuing to grow, advertisements through micro blogs will become a necessity,” Yu says.

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