Sina Weibo gets personal, lets celebrities offer subscriptions to followers

2013-10-30 03:49:05 GMT2013-10-30 11:49:05(Beijing Time)

Sina Weibo, China’s hottest Twitter-like social network, is making a big move to revamp its celebrity and brand pages. Starting this week, all ‘verified’ Weibo users have the option of reaching out to their fans and followers via subscriptions. Brands and celebs can offer interesting content for free – using either text or voice messages – via this new channel.

Sina’s (SINA) new social marketing channel is called Weibo Fan Service. It’s aimed at mobile users of the official Sina Weibo app, but it also works on the desktop web app. It could allow, for example, a TV station to tell you directly about a new TV show they think you might like, or for Starbucks to offer discounts in certain geographic areas, or for you to get daily weather updates from a media outlet, all delivered in the form of private messages inside Weibo.

One-on-one with brands

Weibo is replicating what WeChat, the popular messaging app, has been doing for some time with its very direct and personal brand accounts. WeChat even allows paid subscriptions as well, something we looked at in-depth last month in the case of the Chinese actor Chen Kun. It’s possible Weibo could activate paid subs in future too.

Now, when you follow some verified users on Weibo, you’ll get an automated, private direct message from them. If you reply to that private message with the letters “DY”, then you’ve signed up for occasional, free updates from that person.

Sina says that over 60,000 brands and well-known Weibo users have signed up for these subscriptions during the course of the beta testing stage.

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