China's Sina Weibo targeting Japanese advertisers

Sina Weibo now has 324 million users on the microblogging platform, providing advertisers access to Chinese consumers

One of China's top Twitter-like sites, Sina Weibo, is working to attract Japanese companies to advertise on its platform by helping the firms open and use accounts on the microblogging service.

Sina Weibo now has 324 million users, 30 million of which are daily active users, said Sina chief financial officer Herman Yu on Friday at the CHINICT Internet conference in Beijing. Sina Weibo largely operates as a Chinese-language site. But the company behind it has the eventual goal to expand overseas into non-English markets, Yu said while addressing an audience.

"But I think ultimately our position is still how do you connect (Sina Weibo) with the Chinese community. The Chinese market is very huge." he added.

Sina Weibo has an agency in Japan that is helping companies there, including restaurants and hotels, to market themselves to Chinese users on the microblog platform. The agency helps Japanese businesses translate their microblog posts into Chinese, Yu later explained to journalists.

"That's an example of where we're really trying to expand our resources and be able to go to non-Chinese speaking populations," he said.

Earlier this year Sina said in report, that the company in February had 178 Japanese businesses with accounts on Sina Weibo, along with 208 U.S. businesses. The groups, however, only represent a small slice of the total 130,000 businesses with accounts on the site, most of which are for restaurants in China.

Sina Weibo has been gradually working to create advertising and other revenue generating models for the site. But the company also has to comply with China's strict regulations on censoring online content. This has included taking measures to shutdown user accounts for alleged political rumors, while also starting a system to penalize users for spreading content held to be inaccurate and false.

Yu said the company is doing its best in trying to comply with China's regulatory environment for Twitter-like microblog sites. But implementing content control systems on the site generate "some costs" for the company, he said, without elaborating.

Sina Weibo's potential rivals including Twitter and Facebook are blocked in China, which has paved the way for local social networking sites to dominate in the country. Last year, Sina said it was developing an English version of its microblogging platform, without offering a timetable for its launch. Chinese rival Tencent has already launched an English language interface for its own microblogging service.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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