Twitter now has a Chinese version, and Sina Weibo might have an English version by end of this year. It seems that more and more foreign media love to talk about Sina’s Weibo and compare it with Twitter, the creator of microblog. I’ve been reading those stories, some points I agree with, and some I don’t and some I think are really nonsense.
Before we talk about Sina Weibo and Twitter, I do think there are 5 facts you must know.
1. Twitter is Never popular in China
Even before Twitter got blocked, it did not have many users in China at all, probably only geeks were playing with it. Now we got millions of Weibo users, I bet most of them do not even know Twitter’s existence. I was in a panel discussing about Weibo’s business value in APEC SME Summit, the panelists sitting besides me even have over one million followers and are now so-called social media experts, but they never used Twitter.
2. Twitter has No Chance in China
Twitter is coming to China because it’s launching its Chinese version? Come on! The answer is not something like, if it comes it is already too late (which could be the proper answer to Facebook’s coming to China), etc. The answer is just a Definitely Impossible. How can Twitter handle the content monitoring? You can not imagine how much effort Sina spent on it and the enormous pressure from different authorities. Besides, Twitter’s Chinese version is just a finished project from its translation community. Twitter is to serve oversea Chinese? it sounds silly, the oversea Chinese can still use Weibo, and if they can live oversea they should understand at lease the foreign language.
3. Sina Weibo’s English version, so What?
I don’t think Sina is serious about oversea market. English version of Sina Weibo is coming by end of this year? Mightbe. But if it’s just an English interface, it is an easy job. Sina said 10% of its weibo users are from oversea, fine, but how many of them are Not Chinese? I have some foreign friends now on Weibo, but they are living in China! Sina Weibo has an ambitious goal ahead in Chinese web market, which is big and interesting enough to keep it very busy for a long while.
4. Weibo is Not Twitter
It’s better not to compare Twitter and Sina Weibo. Sina Weibo is Not a simple microblogging service any more. We have discussed this many times, and the new version of Sina Weibo makes it even more clear. Microblog is the core in Sina’s ambitious plan, but Sina eventually wants an all-in-one social platform which comes with games, eCommerce, applications etc. Although I still think it is risky for Sina to mix so many stuff on Weibo. If Sina can not leverage the media and the platform, it might piss off many loyal users who have already positioned Weibo as a reliable new media resource.
5. Sina is Not the Mighty God
This actually happened to some Chinese media which believes Sina Weibo is creating a new world. We can not overstate Sina Weibo’s value. I do agree Sina has done a great job on Weibo and has been innovative to drive a microblogging service to the next level. However Cao Guowei, CEO of Sina is not the father of microblogging, and we can not ignore the fact that Weibo is inspired by Twitter. Before Sina Weibo’s launch the power of microblogging has been discovered by Twitter and other microblogging service, and it is Not Sina Weibo’s magic!