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The World of Weibo Verification: Options to Verify Accounts on Sina Weibo

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What’s on Weibo often receives emails from readers asking how to get verified on Sina Weibo. While we’re keeping up with the trending stories, our friends at KAWO know all about the tech & marketing side of Chinese social media. KAWO’s Tianyi Han explains the verification process on Weibo for our What’s on Weibo resources page.

In an online world of ‘fake news’ and online scams, it is sometimes hard to know what and who is real on social media. This is especially true in China, which has an online population of over 770 million, of which more than 350 million people are active monthly users of Sina Weibo.

As the user base of China’s social media has seen a staggering growth, it has become more important for businesses, brands, celebrities, or other accounts of public interest, to get verified to show netizens they are authentic. This adds credibility and trust to an account – generally increasing the number of followers and influence.

Weibo has a somewhat complicated variety of options to verify accounts, all leading to that one goal of authentication: a ‘V’ on the account page. All of Weibo’s celebrities, Key Opinion Leaders or ‘KOLs’, and a myriad of companies and micro-bloggers, now have that desirable ‘V’ on their account.

That little ‘V’ is of great importance; it even led to the widespread popularization of the term “Big Vs” (大V), referring to those verified and influential accounts on Chinese social media.

Since Weibo’s online support for verification processes are rather chaotic and scattered around, we’ve created this guide for you. (Click here to enlarge.)

 
Some Things to Know about Weibo Verification:
 

  • Individual verification is free.
  • All users need to bind their phone number and upload a clear profile photo.
  • ‘Golden verification’ is only awarded to most popular accounts on Weibo.
  • A contract grass root media account gets more privileges on media content, which include:
  • Paid Articles: allowing readers to pay to read your articles;
  • Article Notifications: followers will get notified via PM when a new article is published;
  • Allow users to follow an account from inside a video;
  • “Original work” option (similar to “original content” on WeChat in which a special tag clarifies that content is verified as being unique and not infringing on copyright);
  • Drive users to continue reading an article.

It’s important to remember that Weibo only charges organizations for verification so there are a lot more options, which we have listed below.

 
Organization verification
 

For a so-called ‘Blue V’ verification, which is awarded to verified businesses, there are three levels and it includes benefits in 6 different categories:

  1. Basic Services
  2. Promotion
  3. Events
  4. Coupons
  5. Private Messages
  6. Data Analysis & Social Listening

 
1. Basic Services
 

(Click to enlarge)

A purchase of the Blue verification will give you a banner image slider on the homepage, on the top of your post feeds. You can insert up to 5 images and 1 video.

 
2. Promotion
 

Weibo’s promotion tools are essential for any brand looking to boost engagement and grow their account.

Basic plan users will experience some restrictions in utilizing the campaign and promotion tools. If you would like to run campaigns on Weibo, we recommend you buy a medium plan and ideally splash out for the 9,800 RMB Advanced plan if you’re a heavy user of fensi toutiao (粉丝头条, ‘fan headlines’: option to push post to top of newsfeed of followers).

 
3. Event Platform
 

Weibo offers 6 types of event promotions:

  1. Wheel of Fortune: spin to win a prize or red packet.
  2. Flash Sales: limited time offers inside Weibo.
  3. Repost to enter a lucky draw.
  4. UGC: reward users who post your campaign on their Weibo with a prize.
  5. Pre-order: similar to how Apple lets people pre-order iPhones.
  6. Request a Sample: users fill out a form to get a free sample.

 
4. Coupons
 

Coupons are a great way to entice users to follow your account and give a little nudge to those with demonstrated intent to purchase.

 
5. Private Messages
 

Private messages are almost a direct copy of WeChat’s articles. The basic plan – bizarrely enough – only lets you send them to a random 10% of your follower base and has other restrictions on menus and auto-replies.

 
6. Data Analysis & Social Listening
 

This is not to be confused with Weibo’s “data helper” (数据助手), which costs an additional 6,800 RMB/year, although medium and advanced plans can get a discount on it.

 

Overseas brands need to pay $1000 to apply for organization verification. Detailed information can be found at Weibo’s Support Page. If you do not want to worry about all of these details, KAWO’s team can help you get a better reporting experience.

 
Lastly..
 

Some final remarks about Weibo verification. There are also many organizations that just get individual verification status, and those that do not even bother getting verified at all.

While it is true that ‘Blue V’ gives an organization instant authority and credibility as an official account, trust and authenticity can also be built up through consistent posting, a formal tone of writing, and professional quality content. One good example is Penguin Market, an online import food and lifestyle seller with 50k+ followers. Their account has remained ‘unverified’, yet they have succeeded in becoming and staying popular. Before spending time and money on a Blue V-status, it is, therefore, worthwhile to consider if a free verification may be sufficient to meet your needs.

Adding to that; non-Blue V accounts actually can also purchase the RMB 5000 and 9800 packages. It took us wuite some research of all the Weibo documentation to find out that non-verified users can also purchase the same service pack. It does, however, carry a different name: “Super Fans Package” (超级粉丝包) – sounds just as good.


KAWO connects teams across the globe providing data insights, greater transparency, and increased efficiency. We help international brands in China be more authentic and consistent on social media.

Interested to learn more? Schedule a free demo.

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KAWO is a What's on Weibo contributor. KAWO connects teams across the globe providing data providing data insights, greater transparency, and increased efficiency. They help international brands in China be more authentic and consistent on social media.Interested to learn more? Schedule a free demo.

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  1. Avatar

    amy

    April 5, 2018 at 9:53 am

    I’ve been unable to use Weibo for a few months, since they asked me to verify my account but I don’t use a mobile. Now I’m unable to post anything or fwd things :/

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China Digital

Summer Censorship: Weibo Launches “Project Sky Blue”

No hot summer on Weibo: the social media network announces extra censorship on ‘vulgar content.’

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Earlier this week, the administration of Sina Weibo announced a special summer holiday crackdown on “vulgar content,” including “pornographic novels, erotic anime, pictures or videos.”

In a public announcement that was posted on July 4th, the Weibo administration writes that the primary goal of this campaign is to “create a healthier, more positive environment for underage users” during the summer break period.

The censorship plan is titled “Project Deep Blue” (or: “Project Sky Blue”) (蔚蓝计划), and will use filter systems, human moderators and user reports to censor more content for the upcoming two months.

The project even has its own Weibo account now, where Weibo users can ask questions, report inappropriate content, and get more information on the campaign.

Weibo states it will further expand its team of online content supervisors, and also explicitly encourages netizens to flag ‘inappropriate’ content to make the online community ‘more wholesome.’

The hashtag #ProjectDeepBlue (#蔚蓝计划#) topped the hot search lists on Weibo this week; not necessarily because of the topic’s popularity, but because it was placed there by the social media site’s administration. At time of writing, the hashtag page has attracted more than 180 million views.

Online responses to the summer censorship program are mixed: many commenters voice their support for the latest measure, while others express frustration.

One Weibo user from Hubei calls the latest measure “hypocritical,” arguing that minors surf Weibo just as much during school time as during the summer holiday – suggesting that launching a special censorship program for the summer vacation does not make sense at all.

But many popular comments are in favor of the project, saying: “I support Project Deep Blue, the internet needs to be cleaned up,” and: “China’s young people need to be protected.”

This is not the first time Weibo launches a special intensified censorship program. Throughout the years, it has repeatedly carried out ‘anti-pornography‘ campaigns in cooperation with Chinese cyberspace authorities.

Often, the crusade against ‘vulgar’ content also ends up being used for the purpose of censoring political content rather than to actually eradicate ‘obscenities’ (read more).

By now, it seems that many Weibo users are quite actively using the Project Deep Blue tag to report on other users who are posting violent or vulgar content.

“If you’re not careful, you’re hit with vulgar and obscene content the moment you’re on the internet,” well-known mom blogger Humapanpan (@虎妈潘潘) writes: “Now that the summer holiday is coming, I hope we can join the Project Deep Blue, and clean up the internet environment.  Actively report obscene content the moment you see it – let’s protect our future together.”

By Skylar Xu & Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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China Celebs

Faking Street Photography: Why Staged “Street Snaps” Are All the Rage in China

Staged street photography is the latest “15 minutes of fame” trend on Chinese social media.

Manya Koetse

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It looks as if they are spontaneously photographed or filmed by one of China’s many street photographers, but it is actually staged. Chinese online influencers – or the companies behind them – are using street photography as part of their social media strategy. And then there are those who are mocking them.

Recently a new trend has popped up on Chinese social media: people posting short videos on their accounts that create the impression that they are being spotted by street fashion photographers. Some look at the camera in a shy way, others turn away, then there are those who smile and cheekily stick out their tongue at the camera.

Although it may appear to be all spontaneous, these people – mostly women – are actually not randomly being caught on camera by one of China’s many street fashion photographers in trendy neighborhoods. They have organized this ‘fashion shoot’ themselves, often showing off their funny poses and special moves, from backward flips to splits, to attract more attention (see example in video embedded below).

In doing so, these self-made models are gaining more fans on their Weibo, Douyin, Xiaohongshu, or WeChat accounts, and are turning their social media apps into their very own stage.

 

Street Photography in Sanlitun

 

The real street photography trend has been ongoing in China for years, near trendy areas such as Hangzhou’s Yintai shopping mall, or Chengdu’s Taikoo Li.

One place that is especially known for its many street photographers is Beijing’s see-and-be-seen Sanlitun area, where photographers have since long been gathering around the Apple or Uniqlo stores with their big lens cameras to capture people walking by and their trendy fashion.

A few years ago, Thatsmag featured an article discussing this phenomenon, asking: “Who are these guys and what are they doing with their photos?”

Author Dominique Wong found that many of these people are older men, amateur photographers, who are simply snapping photos of attractive, fashionable, and unique-looking people as their hobby.

But there are also those who are working for street fashion blogs or style magazines such as P1, and are actually making money with their street snaps capturing China’s latest fashion trends.

Image by 新浪博客

People featured in these street snaps can sometimes go viral and become internet celebrities (网红). One of China’s most famous examples of a street photographed internet celebrity is “Brother Sharp.”

‘Brother Sharp’ became an online hit in 2009 (image via Chinasmack).

It’s been ten years since “Brother Sharp” (犀利哥), a homeless man from Ningbo, became an online hit in China for his fashionable and handsome appearance, after his street snap went trending on the Chinese internet.

 

Staged Street Scenes

 

But what if nobody’s snapping your pics and you want to go viral with your “Oh, I am being spotted by street fashion photographers” video? By setting up their own “street snap” shoots, online influencers take matters into their own hands.

It is not just individuals who are setting up these shoots; there are also companies and brands that do so in order to make their (fashion) products more famous. According to People’s Daily, in Hangzhou alone, there are over 200 photographers for such “street snaps” and hundreds of thousands of models for such “performances.”

The photographers can, supposedly, earn about 20,000 to 30,000 yuan ($2,890-$4,335) per day and the models are well paid.

In this way, the “street snap performance” phenomenon is somewhat similar to another trend that especially became apparent in China around 2015-2016, namely that of ‘bystander videos’ capturing a public scene. Although these videos seem to be real, there are actually staged.

One such example happened in 2017 when a video went viral of a young woman being scolded on a Beijing subway for wearing a revealing cosplay outfit.

The story attracted much attention on social media at the time, with many netizens siding with the young woman and praising her for responding coolly although the woman was attacking her. Later, the whole scene turned out to be staged with the purpose of generating more attention for the ad of a “cool” food delivery platform behind the older lady.

In 2015, photos of a ‘romantic proposal’ made its rounds on social media when a young man asked his pregnant girlfriend to marry him using over 50 packs of diapers in the shape of a giant heart. One bag of diapers carried a diamond ring inside. It was later said the scene was sponsored by Libero Diapers.

 

Wanghong Economy

 

Both the latest street snap trend and the staged video trend are all part of China’s so-called “Wanghong economy.” Wǎnghóng (网红) is the Chinese term for internet celebrities, KOL (Key Opinion Leader) or ‘influencer.’ Influencer marketing is hot and booming in China: in 2018, the industry was estimated to be worth some $17.16 billion.

Being a wanghong is lucrative business: the more views, clicks, and fans one has, the more profit they can make through e-commerce and online advertising.

Using Chinese KOLs to boost brands can be an attractive option for advertisers, since their social media accounts have a huge fanbase. Prices vary on the amount of fans the ‘influencer’ has. In 2015, for example, the Chinese stylist Xiao P already charged RMB 76,000 ($11,060) for a one-time product mention on his Weibo account (36 million fans).

According to the “KOL budget Calculator” by marketing platform PARKLU, a single sponsored post on the Weibo account of a famous influencer will cost around RMB 60,000 ($8730).

The current staged street snap hype is interesting for various online media businesses in multiple ways. On short video app Douyin, for example, the hugely popular street snap videos come with a link that allows app users to purchase the exact same outfits as the girls in the videos.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, an online survey by Tencent found that 54% of college-age respondents had the ambition to become an “online celebrity.”

 

Making Non-Fashion Fashion: The Farm Field as a Catwalk

 

Although becoming an actual online celebrity used to be a far-fetched dream for many Chinese netizens, the latest staged-street-snap trend creates the possibility for people to experience their “15 minutes of fame” online.

Just as in previous online trends such as the Flaunt Your Wealth Challenge or A4 Waist Challenge, you see that many people soon participate in them, and that they are then followed by an “anti-movement” of people making fun of the trend or using it to promote a different social point-of-view.

The 2018 “Flaunt Your Wealth” challenge, for example, in which Chinese influencers shared pictures of themselves falling out of their cars with their expensive possessions all around them, was followed by an Anti-Flaunt Your Wealth movement, in which ordinary people mocked the challenge by showing themselves on the floor with their diplomas, military credentials, painting tools, or study books around them.

In case of the (staged) “Fashion Street Photography” movement, that now has over 103 million views on Weibo (#全国时尚街拍大赏# and #街拍艺术行为大赏#), you can also see that many people have started to mock it.

“I find [this trend] so embarrassing that I want to toss my phone away, yet I can’t help but watch it,” one Weibo user (@十一点半关手机) writes, with others agreeing, saying: “This is all so awkward, it just makes my skin crawl.”

The anti-trend answer to the staged street shoot hype now is that people are also pretending to be doing such a street snap, but ridiculing it by making over-the-top movements, doing it in ‘uncool’ places, wearing basic clothing, or setting up a funny situation (see embedded tweet below).

Some of these short videos show ‘models’ walking in a rural area, pretending to be photographed by a ‘street fashion photographer’ – it’s an anti-trend that’s become a trend in itself (see videos in embedded tweets below).

Although this ‘anti-trend’ is meant in a mocking way, it is sometimes also a form of self-expression for young people for whom the Sanlitun-wannabe-models life is an extravagant and sometimes unattainable one.

They don’t need trendy streets and Chanel bags to pretend to be models: even the farm field can be their catwalk.

In the end, the anti-trend “models” on Chinese social media are arguably much cooler than the influencers pretending to be photographed. Not only do they convey a sense of authenticity, they also have something else that matters the most in order to be truly cool and attractive: a sense of humor.

Also read: From Mountains of Taishan to Faces of Amsterdam – Interview with Street Photographer Jimmy on the Run

Also read: Beijing Close-Up: Photographer Tom Selmon Crosses the Borders of Gender in China

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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