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The Chinese version of the social networking giant, has already picked up an audience twice the size of its US counterpart's audience and is continuing to grow.

Valentina Park
  • 18 july 2011


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This article titled “Weibo: The Chinese Twitter that dwarfs Twitter” was written by Jemima Kiss, for guardian.co.uk on Friday 15th July 2011 06.00 UTC

The scale of China’s domestic Twitter rival, Sina’s Weibo.com, puts Twitter itself in true perspective.

Around 56m accounts have been opened on Twitter, yet only an estimated 21 million users actively publish each month. Twitter’s own Josh Elman, in charge of user retention, described to BusinessInsider the turning point from casual to regular user at the point where they follow 30 accounts and those people then begin following back. (Update: see end for updated Twitter stats)

Sina Weibo is in a different order of magnitude with 140 million users and 50 million active monthly users, Sina claims, with 10m new accounts signed up each month. Sina is hoping for significant revenue growth from Weibo in the next two years, reported China Daily late last month.

赵连海的微博

Photo by DigiPub on Flickr. Some rights reserved

There are some subtle differences in how Weibo is being used, particularly with the type of content being shared. HP research into Weibo reads like an introduction to the microblogging market in China, based on a 30-day analysis of 4,411 keywords on Weibo and comparison to 16.32m messages on Twitter.

The most commonly shared content on Weibo is jokes, images and video, most of which are retweets. The effect is less comment on shared comment, but there is also less sharing of news stories.

Marketing is taking off in a very big way; 60,000 accounts of Weibo are verified accounts for celebrities, sports stars and major brands.

Actor Yao Chen has 8.9 million followers and is turning down offers of 100,000 yuan (£9,600) per promotional tweet, while marketing professor Ye Feng predicts Sina’s ad revenue will grow 50%a year due to enhanced marketing for brands and products using promotions and videos. He told China Daily:  “Until now, the top 100 ‘grassroot’ accounts have created profits of about 20m yuan (£1.92m) from advertisements since they opened their accounts.”

Sina is learning to push campaigns out at peak times – 10 to 11.10am and 2 to 3.30pm – and is also looking at other chargeable service for brands. No doubt Twitter will be watching its development very closely.

The MIT Technology Review published some interesting data on the value of users on different networks. Based on a threshold of per user as a starting point, Groupon is way ahead at revenue per users, while Google has , Facebook and Twitter .75.

Compare that to market capitalisation or estimated value into, Google dominates at 0bn, Facebook on bn while Twitter “languishes” on something around bn.

• Update:
Several readers have questioned the stats on the Business Insider piece and the rationale of determining which of those users are ‘active’, ie use their Twitter accounts at least once each month. Part of the reason BI published those estimates was because Twitter itself won’t release active user numbers, hence BI’s attempts to identify those. But for base registered account numbers we checked with Twitter – here’s what they told us:

• Twitter has more than 200 million registered accounts
• There are now 600,000 signups per day
• More than 200 million Tweets are sent per day
• Twitter has more than 500 employees (and is hiring)
• 40% of Tweets come from mobile devices
• 70% of Tweets come from outside of the US

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