Weibo is one of the biggest social media platforms in China used by a great number of celebrities and influencers. The platform is an effective tool for C-biz enthusiasts worldwide to quickly and proactively update Chinese entertainment news and discussions. However, only a few international fans are on Weibo, mostly because of the language barrier.
Introduction to Weibo
Why Do International Fans Want To Use Weibo?
- A home to a great number of influential individuals and organizations’ official accounts: celebrities, brands, media publishers, government, etc.
- A Twitter-like platform that offers a diverse and huge amount of information that is updated instantly.
- A vivid picture of how C-biz and C-fandoms really work.
Three Ways to Access Weibo
- Website: https://weibo.com/
- Chinese domestic app (微博): A full version with rich features and a dazzling user interface.
- International app (WeiboIntl): A simpler version with basic and customized functions specially designed for international users.
This article will focus on WeiboIntl as it’s easier to get started with for non-Chinese speakers. WeiboIntl is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. The following screenshots in this article are taken from an Android device but the same process applies to iOS devices.
How To Register A Weibo Account?
- Step 1: Download the app.
- Step 2: Register with a valid phone number.
- Step 3: Change your username and update your personal information.
Set Up Your Weibo
Follow Important Accounts
You obviously want to follow your favorite celebrities’ accounts first! Besides that, there are other accounts that you may want to follow:
- For operation: his/her studios, artist management companies, charity funds, or other personal organizations, etc.
- For fandom: Official Fanclub, big fan accounts, fansite masters, comment control stations, anti-black stations, etc.
- For work: brands, magazines, video platforms, music platforms, etc.
How do I know which account is important?
Firstly, go to the Search bar at the top & search using your favorite celebrity’s Chinese name.
Method 1: via SUPER TOPIC
- You will automatically be directed to the TOP tab after clicking the “Search” function. Your idol’s official account will be likely to appear at the top (if he/she is popular enough, hopefully).
- You will see a blue link named XXX超话 (XXX Super Topic) with XXX as your idol’s Chinese name. Then congrats, it’s the gate to heaven! Click it and you’ve arrived at your idol’s Super Topic (more details on Super Topic will be stated below)
- You can through top posts and choose to follow the accounts with content you’re interested in. The accounts with a high number of followers are likely to be the big fans of the fandom.
Method 2: via PEOPLE tab
- A quicker way, you can go to PEOPLE tab instead of TOP tab
- The accounts on the top are most likely the celebrities themselves, their studios, official fan clubs, and fansite masters. Click to follow the accounts you like.
Organize Your Weibo
It may be helpful to group the accounts you follow to specific groups right at the time you follow them. Or else you might feel extremely discouraged when your newsfeed becomes a mess of unfamiliar Chinese characters after following a bunch of accounts.
One of the default groups is “Special” (特别关注)– where you put the most important accounts (your idols, their studios, etc.). This feature allows you to get the latest updates of your most favorite accounts faster by having their posts prioritized on the top of your newsfeed.
If you are a multi-stan or you’re interested in too many things and your newsfeed is a mess, this is the best feature for you.
What if you accidentally put an account in the wrong group or just simply forget to put it in any group? You can totally edit the groups anytime.
Finally, you can set remarks for your favorite accounts to anything you like such as hubby, wifey, laogong, laopo, etc. It doesn’t only help you recognize them on your feed easily but also makes you happier. We all love to call idols by nicknames, don’t we?
Interesting Features You Should Know
Auto-translation (powered by Sogou) is a feature specially designed for international users on WeiboIntl. Although the translation is not always accurate, it still does a decent job delivering the general information you need and getting you familiar with basic Chinese characters.
Download High-Quality Videos/Images/GIFs
Weibo allows users to upload and download diverse formats of content with extremely high quality, some photos can even be used for printing. You can easily download videos on WeiboIntl while the domestic app may restrict video downloads in particular circumstances.
This feature is designed to strengthen community communication, where people with the same interest gather to discuss a particular topic. Weibo does have hashtags for a similar purpose, but Super Topics go beyond that. They’re more like Reddit’s subreddits where users can follow, check-in, form their own circles, and communicate in a semi-private community (It’s more private than Weibo’s public square/ common area, but is still public content after all).
There are 2 main tabs in WeiboIntl’s Super Topics:
- PAGE tab displays all the content posted by fans, which is easily filtered by:
- Posts with the most recent replies
- Most recent posts
- Currently popular posts with high interactions
- HOT tab shows essential posts that are selected by the hosts. They can be important announcements, the latest updates from studios, good opinion articles, etc.
The Super Topics are classified into different categories (Celebrity, TV Drama, Sport, Game, etc.) and ranked based on their popularity. The rankings give more reasons for fans to be active on their Super Topics.
Weibo Hot Search List
Hot Search List is probably one of Weibo’s most popular features. This powerful feature shows the top 50 most searched topics on Weibo in real-time. It’s a massive hub to find out what is currently trending in China.
With Weibo’s huge user base, Hot Search List is considered an effective marketing tool to drive traffic and spread marketing content to the masses. Hot searches can be boosted officially by brands or organizations for marketing purposes. However, fake hot searches are no stranger to Weibo users nowadays as people claim that hot searches can be easily bought and manipulated by the water army.
This exploring mechanism inside Weibo helps users to look for new and relevant information through two main tabs:
- TRENDING tab allows users to discover through mainstream criteria, for instance, search trending, hot topic, stars, super-topic charts, etc.
- TOP tab is more personalized as It recommends related posts based on user’s interests, and provides more diverse content from multi-categories such as Movies, TV Series, Food, Funny, etc.