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As is known to all, Tencent‘s CEO Pony Ma has instructed his staff, they must make Tencent Weibo more popular than Sina Weibo this year.
“They try everything. Every editorial staff at QQ.com, Tencent portal, has to post at least 10 messages on Tencent Weibo each day,” said one people close to QQ.com.
A recruitment ad appeared on May 23, saying Tencent is hiring 10 more editors for its Weibo division. Besides posting headline news on Tencent Weibo, the editor will also cooperate with other media and organize offline events.
The key of Weibo is not number of users. Everyone in the industry knows Tencent’s instant message platform has tones of users. The key is about having opinion leaders to use your Weibo service to distribute their messages, and attracts a lot of followers, who redistribute the message.
Industry insiders said Tencent are paying top dollar to attract celebrities to use its Weibo. One of them is Olympic champion, Liu Xiang, who has 16 million fans so far. Another is Chinese actress, Xu Jinlei, who is also a top blogger on Sina’s blogging services (not Weibo). Xu has about 7 million fans on Tencent Weibo.
In comparison, Sina Weibo’s top blogger, Chinese actress, Yao Chen, has about 8 million fans.
However, apart from these “hired” helps, most of Tencent’s users are low-end, who seem to not responding well to its own weibo service. According to a report done by Mirae Asset in Jan 2011, 14% of Chinese internet are microblog users today. Of which, Sina Weibo has 54% of the total users and Tencent’s has 21%. But if we take into account usage rate (i.e. pageviews), Sina Weibo has 87% of the market and Tencent’s has just 8%.
One thing Tencent can try to boost its Weibo usage is to automatically post a message on its user’s Weibo whatever the user change his/her statues on QQ. For example, a lot of people write something about their mood, their status, etc. on QQ. These can be Weibo contents.
However, Tencent has tried that before, but it failed to have any significant impact. That function eventually incorporated into Q Zone, Tencent’s social network.
It seems Tencent has a lot of work to do to make its microblog surpass Sina Weibo’s success.