Sina Weibo got too big for its britches?
Sina Weibo is becoming quite uppity following it successful U.S. IPO which generated a quarter million USD with its Nasdaq listing. In advance of listing Sina Weibo started to “clean” itself up making it more attractive to foreign investors and reduce conflict with China regulators. This “clean up” almost derailed the IPO because Sina Weibo did 2 things that made it look like the app had reached it zenith and was sliding down the backside. They:
Shut down comments to restrict social noize
Cleared out zombie and questionable accounts
These two actions, understandably, looked like serious government intervention and a huge slow down of Sina Weibo as a viable and growing social site. It is in fact, just the opposite and these actions by Sina Weibo were a brave. Most Westerners not familiar with Chinese social sites may not be aware that social pollution is an important part of Chinese marketing strategy. Appearance is everything and so use of Fake profiles (zombie accounts) and paid comments (gunners) is “the” core strategy of China marketing. Sina Weibo dealt this a blow in advance of the IPO to deliver more accurate user numbers.
And then it all changed. Post IPO Sina Weibo has gotten a little full of itself. Considering it only raised half the money it wanted that half seemed to go straight to its head. Sina Weibo again did 2 things:
Zombie accounts rise from the dead: After cleaning up the numbers for the IPO they then must have realized that to continue to support the share price continued demonstration of growth real or otherwise.
That’s a months salary!? I have been delivering social media solutions to China for 10 years and in the 10 years service has been consistent. . . non existent! But post IPO they have implemented a fee structure for getting Verified and even with payment of the fee they still won’t respond. They have gone full blown mainland service on the world.
The fees structure, regardless of the service level, is creating a burden on business. Many small businesses are taking advantage of the marketing benefits of social media, but increasingly these benefits are being put out of reach by fees and restricted functionality. A Verification from Sina Weibo is only RMB 2,400 (U.S. 300) which does not seem like much, but that is the monthly salary of a University graduate in China. When put into perspective it is a lot of money. Sina Weibo maybe focusing on big business but 90% of business pages are from small business and that means that 90% of the business content likely comes from small business. Think about it.