While Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, continues its success at its home turf, they are starting to cater more to their international audience by offering an English version of their microblogging service. The new version itself is still a work in progress as only parts of it are translated along with some formatting issues still need to be flushed out. Even Sina themselves admitted that the English version of the the Weibo website is not done yet globally. The mobile app already has an English version for two years, but the website is getting there. Sina Weibo currently has over 400 million users, but once the English version, I would expect that number to increase a bit when other countries are able to use the web version without knowing any Chinese.
To some people’s surprise, there are more celebrities from the United States that have Sina Weibo accounts than some might think. Brad Pitt recently signed up along with rapper Snoop Dogg and Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame. This could be a sign that more celebrities will sign up to interact with their Chinese fans better if they want to. Social networks such as this, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are kind of a gift and a curse because you have to be more careful what to say on certain topics and to fans. Weibo’s English version is just one of many things Sina has been working on in recent months. Monetizing the service has become one of Weibo’s many priorities this year along with going after the e-commerce crowd by releasing their own payment platform. They also managed to beat their old record of messages per minute when the New Year celebrations happened, which is now 729,571. We will see if users can top that when Chinese New Year comes up. I’ll be curious to see how this English version of Sina Weibo’s website fares outside of China especially here stateside.
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