Sina Weibo. Have you heard of it? No? I would probably be right in assuming that most people haven’t. Perhaps it’s a new band or Man City have just signed him. I mean there’s no chance it’s a social networking site with half a billion users and over a 100 million posts a day is there? Well actually, this is the case with Sina Weibo.
So how has such a humungous entity sneaked under your radar? Unless you have been to China in recent times you probably wouldn’t know that Sina Weibo is the undisputed king of social media there.
Sina Weibo (“Weibo” from the Chinese word meaning “Microblog”) was created and launched in August 2009 by the SINA Corporation. After China’s Urumqi riots in the month of July 2009, which unfortunately led to the blocking of the most prominent social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter, Sina Weibo has become the dominant force amongst Chinese social media networks. With the steep increase in peoples access to the internet in China, the SINA Corporation saw a fantastic opportunity for growth in a market where the social networking heavyweights had been banished. Since then, many experts have valued Sina Weibo at 3.9 billion USD, quite extraordinary for a company that is just four years old.
So just what is Sina Weibo like?
Well to compare it to a better known entity in the west, Sina Weibo operates on the same premise that Twitter does. Each post has a 140 word limit and uses a hashtag and an @user system. In those posts they can include links, files and make use of emoticons. They also can follow people and consequently have followers. Hold on, isn’t that basically Twitter?
One of the main differences with Sina Weibo is its censorship. Over the years Sina Weibo has ensured that it is very much in line with the rules set by Chinese Government, blacklisting some keywords in posts in order to limit unwanted commotion. An example of this is in 2012 when numerous Foxconn workers went on strike. The Chinese Government therefore, ordered the SINA Corporation to censor the event as much as possible.
So where are Sian Weibo headed? Well, over the last year they have expanded their services to both Singapore and Indonesia, a move to help them in tightening their grasp on the Asian market. They have also recently sponsored Spanish football team Villarreal CF to boost their presence in Europe.
So you may not know much about them now, but in a few years’ time, Sina Weibo may be a household name on our shores. Time will tell!