If you’re paying for KOL media posts on Weibo to promote your brand, should you also pay an additional fee for Weibo advertising to promote their posts?
While your first reaction is probably “No, why would I do that? Isn’t that what we’re hiring the KOL for?” the correct answer is a firm yes. You should be paying for paid Weibo advertising.
Weibo is increasingly becoming a pay-to-play platform, and even KOLs with large audiences and high engagement can only reach a fraction of their audience without using paid promotion.
But that is not their fault. Similar to Facebook’s declining organic reach, Weibo is making it more difficult to have decent organic reach. Currently, a regular Weibo post will appear in the news feed of about 15% of an account’s followers, but this percentage is also affected by the type of content you publish. PARKLU recently released a list of new Weibo ‘rules’ explaining the negative effect particular posts will have on your organic reach. On the other hand, Weibo seems to be pushing video, live streaming, and Weibo Stories content right now. Keep that in mind when choosing which KOLs to work with.
So how exactly does a KOL media sponsored post on Weibo work?
While there are many different types of Weibo advertising methods, this article will focus on sponsored posts or 博文头条。
After posting content, KOLs can go to the top right corner of a post and click 推广, or promote. They then get a page with options and prices.
Option 1: Promote to followers with Weibo advertising
While KOLs can choose how many followers to target, it makes sense to push to the largest number possible.
Paying to promote to fans is the bare minimum. This option is the cheapest and Weibo usually offers many discounts. These include
- If the KOL posts a video, it will be cheaper than if they are posting photos
- If they use Miaopai to post their video, it will be cheaper than if they directly upload it to Weibo
- If it is their first promotion of the week, they will get a discount
- If they have a Weibo membership, they will get a discount
Option 2: Target potential followers
This means a KOL’s post will show up in newsfeeds of users that Weibo thinks might like their account. This costs 200RMB per 10,000 users.
Now come the super-targeted options.
Option 3.1: Target people based on their gender, location, and interests
This promotion will use information from users’ Weibo profiles to glean their interests. That can mean anything from makeup and fashion to cars and finance.
Option 3.2: Target another KOL media account’s followers
This choice is very useful if another account’s audience is also your target demographic. This is slightly more expensive at 250RMB for 10,000 users.
Option 3.3: Target specific business and shopping locations
Your campaign should target locations if you are promoting brick-and-mortar stores or offline events.
Regular users won’t quickly know you are using paid promotion. While Weibo advertisements clearly say “advertisement” in the top left corner, paid KOL media post promotions just say 热门, or popular post.
At the end of promotion periods, KOLs receive a report that shows important stats like the demographics of the people who viewed the post.
When working with Weibo KOLs, brands should ask them to use sponsored posts. The cost of promotion should be separate from their regular rate. What many brands don’t realize is that the majority of Weibo KOLs are already using paid promotion and including it in their fees. However, they don’t disclose this to brands for fear the brand might think they can’t provide good results on their own and are relying on paid promotion to deliver a successful campaign.
It’s better for brands to be transparent and communicate directly with KOLs about their promotion budget and the demographics they want to target.
But if paid promotion is necessary, why use KOLs at all? Wouldn’t it be more effective to use the money to simply run my own Weibo advertising? Not at all. Chinese consumers are wary of advertising and place a lot of value on word-of-mouth recommendations. They trust KOLs’ opinions and are interested in consuming the content they create.
To maximize campaign results, paid KOL media post promotion is a must. You don’t want to waste the powerful content a KOL creates for your brand by curtailing its potential reach. By increasing your budget slightly to include paid promotion, you will dramatically improve your results.