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

KAWO

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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 Comment

1 Comment

  1. 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

Are Douyin and TikTok the Same?

China’s popular “Douyin” app is known as “TikTok” in markets outside of China. But is it really one app?

Gabi Verberg

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TikTok, known as the international version of the Chinese successful short video app Douyin, is a global hit. Despite Bytedance’s efforts to present Douyin and TikTok as being the same product, they are actually two separate entities.

Douyin, (抖音, literally “shaking sound” in Chinese) is a short video media app owned by China’s young tech giant Bytedance (字节跳动). The app allows users to create, edit, and share short videos as well as livestreams, often featuring music in the background.

Douyin’s international name is TikTok, an app that looks the same as Douyin, while in fact, the two are not one and the same, despite Bytedance’s efforts to brand it as such.

This is not the first time a Chinese tech company presents one app as being the same everywhere, while it actually is not. Tencent’s super app Weixin (微信), also known as WeChat, runs two different systems for its Chinese and international version, as explained here.

When downloading either WeChat or Weixin, both being the same app, the app determines what features you can use and what information you can see based on the telephone number you register your account with.

In practice, this means that when you are a non-Chinese resident, you will be using the ‘international version,’ meaning you will have access to (international-specific) content that a user registered with a Chinese telephone number will not be able to see. The overseas version also does not have the same Wallet functions the Chinese version has.

 

Two apps, two systems

 

The difference between WeChat vs Weixin and TikTok vs Douyin, however, is not the same. Whereas the first is basically one app with two different modes, Douyin and TikTok are two completely separate entities.

Depending on the app store you use, you will either be able to download Douyin or TikTok. Users of Chinese app stores can only find Douyin, whereas users of the overseas Apple store or Google Play will only find TikTok available for download.

That the apps are actually separate systems becomes clear when running the same search words in both apps. As shown below, both apps provide different content for the same search words.

Left image: TikTok, Right image: Douyin.

For example, one of TikTok’s most popular channels of this moment is called ‘LisaandLena,’ a verified account by two German twins which has over 32 million fans. However, when you enter ‘LisaandLena’ in Douyin, the only result is an unverfied account which only has 102 fans and shows seven videos.

Results are the same the other way around. One of Douyin’s most popular accounts is that of Chinese actor Chen He (陈赫), who has over 52 million fans features 62 videos at this week. However, when running the same name search in TikTok, several unverified accounts come up, all showing some similar videos like those on Chen He’s Douyin account.

Top left picture: Douyin; top right and two bottom pictures: TikTok.

This suggests that, although Tiktok and Douyin have the same functions, layout, and logos, its users in China and overseas are kept completely separate and are not able to interact with eachother, something that a recent Chinese blog also discusses in detail.

 

The Rise of Douyin and TikTok

 

Ever since its launch in September 2016, Douyin has grown immensely popular. Just one year after its release, Douyin had more than 100 million users and became the second most downloaded app in the Chinese Apple store.

In September 2017, ByteDance took its app overseas; branding Douyin as TikTok for the international market, while keeping the app’s original name, Douyin, for its Chinese market.

Similar to Douyin, TikTok appeared to strike the right chord among internet users right away. In the first quarter of 2018 (note: within half a year after release), TikTok was the 6th most downloaded non-game app in the Apple app store and Google play store combined. In the Apple app store, it was even the most downloaded app. With its 45,8 downloads in the first quarter, TikTok beat apps such as Facebook, Youtube, or Instagram in the popularity rankings.

But that is not where TikTok’s short-video craze halted. In August 2018, TikTok merged with short video app Musical.ly (founded in 2014), that had over 100 million monthly active users at the time. In October last year, after receiving several investments, ByteDance Ltd. officially became the worlds most valuable private start-up, valued at 75 billion dollars.

By summer, ByteDance announced that TikTok, (meaning both apps combined) had more than 500 million monthly active users worldwide. About 300 million of these 500 million monthly active users are China’s domestic users.

 

Why does ByteDance separate Douyin and TikTok?

 

Why would Bytedance go through the effort to create two apps running on different systems? The answer partly lies in China’s strictly controlled online environment, where (social) media companies have to adhere to local policies on what is and what is not allowed to be published on their (user-generated) platforms.

In 2018, Bytedance was already criticized by authorities for hosting ‘inappropriate content’ on its news platform Jinri Toutiao. The joke app Neihan Duanzi, also run by Bytedance, was forced to shut down. Afterward, the company vowed to hire 4,000 additional censors, clearly not taking any risks in getting more warnings from authorities.

By separating Tiktok from Douyin, ByteDance can closely regulate the contents uploaded to Douyin, as they will be disseminated within China, while leaving overseas TikTok and its users relatively free to share whatever content they want to share (do note that the app also set up a team of 20 censors in Indonesia to monitor and ‘sanitize’ content from the platform there, after receiving complaints from Indonesian authorities).

 
New regulations for online video content
 

In light of tighter control on online video platforms, it seems that Bytedance’s monitoring team will have to work around the clock. On January 9, China’s Netcasting Services Association (中国网络视听节目服务协会), an association directly managed by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, issued new regulations that online short video platforms in China should adhere to. One of the new guidelines requires all online video service providers to carefully examine content before it is published.

Tech Sina reports that the new stipulations require that all online video content, from titles to comments and even the use of emoticons, has to be in accordance with regulations, which prohibit any content that is ‘vulgar,’ is offending to the Chinese political system, puts revolutionary leaders in a negative light, or undermines social stability in any way.

On Weibo, the newest regulations became a topic of discussion, with many netizens wondering how short video apps such as Douyin are going to comply, and how its users will be affected.

Although Douyin has not responded to how and if its platform will change in light of the latest regulations, we can expect that TikTok will not be affected – it will be marching to the beat of his own app.

By Gabi Verberg, with contributions by Manya Koetse

Interested to know more about Bytedance and TikTok? We recommend listening to this podcast by Techbuzz China.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©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 Digital

Alipay Changes Name to Hanbao (But for Users, Nothing Will Change)

Alipay, oh, Alipay, wherefore art thou Hanbao now?

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First published .

What’s in a name? That which we call Alipay, by any other name would do the trick. But although the title has changed, nothing will change for Alipay users.

On January 8, news that Alibaba’s online payment platform ‘Alipay’ (Zhifubao 支付宝) changed its official name to Hanbao (瀚宝), became a big topic of discussion on Chinese social media. The hashtag ‘Zhifubao Company Changes Name’ (#支付宝公司更名#) received millions of views on Tuesday, reaching over 30 million by Tuesday night.

Zhifubao (支付宝) is the Chinese name for the country’s leading mobile and online payment app. The brand ‘Zhifubao’ literally means ‘payment treasure.’ Outside of China, Zhifubao is known by its English name ‘Alipay.’

Alipay is operated by the Ant Financial Services Group (蚂蚁金服), an affiliate company of Alibaba.

The name change was reportedly registered for the ‘Zhifubao (China) Information Technology Company’ (支付宝[中国]信息技术有限公司), that changed into ‘Hanbao (Shanghai) Information Technology Company’ (瀚宝[上海]信息技术有限公司), just as ‘Alipay China Holding Limited’ has been changed to ‘Hanbao China Holding Limited.’

The name change was registered on December 18th of 2018. The legal ownership of the company has also been changed from Ma Yun (Jack Ma) to Ye Yuqing (叶郁青), who is the Ant Financial Chairman. Yicai Global already reported about a change to Alipay’s legal entity in the summer of 2018.

In October of 2018, the Financial Times reported that Jack Ma had quietly relinquished his ownership of the legal entities at the heart of Alibaba, after announcing he would retire as Alibaba’s chairman.

The Alipay company responded to the commotion, saying that the name change is just an “administrative matter” that will not affect consumers using the app in any way.

On Weibo, however, not everyone is happy with the change. “I owe Jack Ma some money, why do I now need to return it to Ye Yuqing?” one commenter wonders. Many others say similar things, jokingly saying they now no longer owe Jack Ma money. The Alipay platform allows users to buy items with credit through their ‘Huabei’ loan tool.

“Is Jack Ma no longer looking after us?!”, others say. “Being legal representative and being a shareholder are two different things,” one Weibo user replies.

The fact that the ‘Hanbao’ name is pronounced the same way as ‘Hamburger’ (汉堡) in Mandarin is also a reason some people are mocking the name change. Some netizens wonder if ‘Alipay’ will now change into ‘Hanbaopay.’

In 2017, there was also some online commotion when it was announced that McDonald’s China would change its name from Maidanglao to Jin Gongmen (‘Golden Arches’). At the time, McDonald’s China also responded to its name change, saying that it was for “official certification” only.

Time has shown that indeed nothing changed; just as the McDonald’s hamburgers are still the same, Alipay’s official hamburger-sounding new name is unlikely to affect its payment convenience.

Read more: Insights into Sesame Credit & Top 5 Ways to Use a High Sesame Score

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

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

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2018

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