Sina Weibo - A Chinese twitter clone?

Thu 21 July 2011 17:14, Qin Hu

Sina Weibo - A Chinese twitter clone?

Hey everyone, I'm very glad to meet all of you here. My name is Qin Hu and I was born and raised in Huangshi, Hubei Province, China. Since 2007, I have been studying International Business Management Studies (IBMS) at HAN University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Now I am working at a SEM company as a Content Manager intern.

I wonder how many people have heard about Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblog. It was launched in August 2009, and it has become one of the most popular SNS (Social Networking Service) websites in China within a short time. According to its data, there are more than 140 million registered users and it expects to have more than 200 million by the end of this year. (China times)1

Hot discussion:

There is a hot discussion about Sina Weibo. Some people say Sina Weibo is just a simple copycat of Twitter, and that's its success lies in the fact that twitter has been blocked in China. However, many people just think the opposite, which is that Twitter can learn a lot from Sina Weibo.

In my opinion, there is not much sense to continue discussing whether Twitter can be successful or not in China if it was not blocked. We will never know the answer. Instead, maybe it is time for us to be open-minded and get to know what Sina Weibo exactly is. I admit that it was launched as a clone of Twitter or the combination of Facebook and Twitter. So far, Weibo is still a national microblog with some pretty cool features. So what are they? The following matrix shows the comparison of Twitter and Sina Weibo.


To be clearer, I would like to add the following: 

  • Unlike Twitter, Sina Weibo's users can tweet not only 140 words but also pictures, videos, audios and emoticons directly from their homepage. In addition, there is also a function called voicemail tweet. 


  • Microblogging is more social on Sina Weibo compared with Twitter. People can comment on their tweets and all the comments for the same tweets are shown threaded. Furthermore, you will find microgroups, mini polls and social games apps.


  • Recently, HP Labs has done some research on Social Media User Behavior. Twitter and Sina Weibo were monitored. The result was that the Retweets Ratio on Sina Weibo is far more than found on Twitter. 
  • Sina Weibo also has done a good job on information filters and navigation. It allowed its users to customize their timelines. Weibo also classifies the types of tweets. Compared with Twitter's trend, people can find and follow topics or people much easier.





These added features might provide a higher entertainment value and user experience and will also help Sina Weibo's international aspirations. 

Sina Weibo made an ambitious move to launch an English version, which is expected to be released by the end of this year. It says that the target groups will be overseas users, who approximately account for more than 10% of its current total users and are mainly overseas Chinese. Foreigners in China also can benefit from the English service. 

Although Sina Weibo says the English version of Sina Weibo targets different people than Twitter, there is no doubt that it still will compete with Twitter somehow. So far, I have not heard any news about the reaction of Twitter. If any of you know more about this, just let me know!

All pictures are from:

1: A Chinese website and only in Chinese


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