27 AUG. 2012

Digital in China: Weibo, WeChat, Zhi Mei

Weibo unveils new design, moves closer to Facebook

Recently released information about the upcoming new version of Sina Weibo (the fifth) will make comparisons with Twitter (that never made much sense in the first place) even harder to support.

Most modifications are minor and focus on making the overall site design more polished and less cluttered (a welcome move in China where bloated web pages often create poor user experiences). For instance inactive icons on the left sidebar of the welcome page will become greyed out and more icons have been inserted to replace text.

So far the only noteworthy addition in terms of site functionalities seems to be a Google + like function allowing users to more easily create groups of friends and restrict posts to certain groups.

The main change has to do with profile pages that will undergo a very significant re-design that will bring Sina Weibo closer to Facebook. New profile pages will include a Facebook-like cover picture and user information will be re-organized to be more prominently featured. The objective seems to be to transform the top of profile pages into more clear and appealing “ID cards”. It should be noted that this new cover picture comes on top of the possibility to customize profile page background.

No information has been released on brand pages but it is unlikely that Weibo will bring major changes to their layout so soon after the release of its latest enterprise version.

WeChat woos brands and celebrities

Last week we went over how Nike was using mobile-messaging application Wechat (or Weixin 微信 as it is known locally). In our view this development was just the start of a trend that would see more and more brands starting to experiment with Weixin marketing.

Recent news shows that Tencent (the parent company behind Wechat) is indeed moving towards making the service more like Weibo (it already has many social-media like features) by inviting brands, media organizations and celebrities on board. Participants so far include TV shows such as “The voice of China”, media groups like CCTV or Caixin and celebrities like superstart Wang Lee Hom. A more complete list along with case studies can be found on the site.

It seems that Weixin’s “enterprise version” is still in beta test mode. There is no centralized section on which to browse brand and celebrity accounts and Tencent appears to mainly count on QR codes (that brands can create after registering and that can be scanned through the app’s integrated QR code reader) for diffusion. However the next week will certainly see changes in app design that will give more space to public accounts.

Adidas partners with social shopping site Zhi Mei

Among the Chinese social e-commerce websites that put an innovative spin on the Pinterest concept is Zhi Mei. The website allows users to pin, create selections and browse products across multiple categories from clothes to housewares and electronics. Unlike Meilishuo and Mogujie, Zhi Mei is targeted towards both men and women. It also sets itself apart through its frequent reward operations, contests and “Piggy bank” tool that allows users to gain virtual currency by accomplishing missions such as inviting their friends, forwarding content on social media etc… Virtual coins can then be exchanged for real products, Q Bi (Tencen’ts virtual currency) or chances to win prizes.

A year after its launch, Zhi Mei is gathering steam and certain brands are starting to use it not only as a storefront (like Vans) but also to conduct more sophisticated operations. Adidas recently created a customized space on Zhi Mei to coincide with the Olympics.

The brand fully integrated its campaign with the site’s key functionalities. Users can accomplish special Adidas missions (that often imply following an Adidas account or forwarding some content on social media), win credits and exchange them against Adidas products in the “exchange” section of the brand’s space. The Adidas space also includes special product selections from Adidas’ ecommerce website. 

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