The Weibo Social Commerce Model that Twitter Should Copy



Sina Weibo is not making money. Not yet at least. But it may have found a way to do so, as we saw from last week’s Weibo social commerce test with Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi. The manufacturer offered 50,000 MI2 phones to Weibo users, which they could order through tweeting. Payments are all done within Sina Weibo.

The result was staggering, with 1.3 million reservations made for those phones in just over five minutes. That was pretty shocking, and I chose it to be my pick for the top news story of last week. As I noted then, we have to give credit to Sina Weibo as a platform as it enabled Xiaomi to capitalize on such high demand. If Xiaomi could to fulfill each request, that would have meant $416 million!

I can’t help but feel that this is something that Twitter could try too. In fact Twitter has already tested something like this with its @EarlyBird experiment. That turned out to be a flop.

But the mechanism is different. @EarlyBird helped brands tweet out deals, but that’s about it. In contrast the Xiaomi-Weibo experiment last week was led and spread by Xiaomi. Folks who made a reservation also had to tweet their orders. And the result of this brand and fan push was a viral one.

Another key difference between Weibo and Twitter’s @EarlyBird is that payment is made through Weibo credits, thus providing a seamless process of ordering and paying for a Xiaomi MI2 entirely on Weibo.

I’m not sure if Sina Weibo will open this up for all brands, but given this Xiaomi success, my guess is that it probably will.

(And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)

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