Will the World be Sina Weibo’s Oyster?

In a guest post for TechRice, Andy Mok charts a course toward world domination for Sina Weibo … or at least toward dominance in the non-Western world, should European and North American consumers prove “too dogmatic” to embrace a Beijing-backed social network.

As the number of Sina Weibo users match and surpass Twitter’s current user base of 200 million, we can expect to see many more international opinion leaders following the lead of Tom Cruise, et al. For these opinion leaders, Sina Weibo would be their first and possibly only platform for the China market. This then, would attract even more offshore users to Weibo as well.

It’s also useful to note that there are several adjacent markets that Sina Weibo can easily tap – namely Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. For example, according to Penn Olson Sina Weibo already has over 500,000 users in Taiwan and has recently launched a traditional Chinese version for this market ….

With just mainland China and associated markets like Taiwan and the overseas Chinese community, Sina Weibo could easily be the world’s biggest micro-blogging service in terms of number of users. Should it decide to expand offshore, the ASEAN countries with their 600 million people would seem to be a natural next market (because of the relatively closer cultural distance as well as it being a focus for China’s soft power initiatives).

Next, Charles Chao, Sina CEO, has noted that more than 40% of Sina Weibo users access the service through the network of China’s largest mobile carrier, China Mobile, and that he expects this percentage to grow as Sina works with handset vendors and mobile platforms to promote related mobile applications. This of course may also provide a springboard for entering the Indian market with its almost 800 hundred million mobile phone users.

Mok’s comments about the usefulness of microblogs to official bodies coincide with the launch of an official Sina Weibo account by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Beijing News reported Tuesday that insiders from the ministry and sina.com have both confirmed that the account is managed by the information department of the ministry, making it the first ministry-level department in China to use a micro-blogging service ….

The messages were delivered in a casual tone, even quoting Mark Twain: “Mauritius was made first, and then heaven,” while talking about the visa-free policy for Chinese tourists to the country ….

Their followers were increasing by approximately 3,000 every half hour on Tuesday morning. The page is at weibo.com/wjxlt.