Star frenzy brightens Sina prospects

October 9, 2017
Industry News
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Li Tao

China’s Weibo leverages star power to profit from huge youth following as oldies lose interest

Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging site which hosts accounts from most of the country’s celebrities, is now well positioned to cash in on the huge number of young people following star gossip on its platform, but that has come at the expense of older users who have left the site because it no longer fits their interests.

On Sunday, a post by a popular Chinese singer and actor paralysed the social media platform for an hour and a half as fans and internet users swarmed to the site. Lu Han’s news that he was now in a relationship with Chinese actress Guan Xiaotong was only online for 30 minutes before the crash happened. It took 90 minutes for Sina Weibo to get the site back up and running.

Within 24 hours, the post had been forwarded more than 870,000 times, receiving 2.2 million comments and 4.7 million “likes”.

However, not all Weibo users got caught up in the frenzy. Zhang Yi, a Shenzhen father in his mid-30s, did not hear the news until Sunday evening when some friends circulated it in a private WeChat posting.

“I have the Sina Weibo app on my mobile phone but rarely open it these days. There used to be some interesting accounts [on Weibo] that I followed closely, but many have either been shut down or stopped updating in the past few years,” he said.

Unlike the older generations who care more about social issues or health information, many younger Chinese born after 1990s – who form most mobile social platforms users in the country – are keen on entertainment and gossip news. That makes Weibo a virtual playground for youth, and also a lucrative advertising platform for Weibo’s owner Sina, said Ouyang Liangyi, an associate professor of Peking University’s HSBC Business School.

Ouyang, who was born in the 1970s, was also shocked to learn that such celebrity gossip could spread so rapidly on Weibo.

Sina Weibo has seen huge growth in traffic and user numbers after it transformed from a real-time information platform to one with more recreational content.

An earlier report released by the Weibo Data Centre revealed that over 80 per cent of Sina Weibo users are below 30 years old, with 13.2 per cent younger than 18 years old. That compares to 11.7 per cent for users aged between 30 and 40, and 6.3 per cent for above 40. Continue Reading
 
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