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What does Weibo’s new character limit mean for brands?

1,500 most common Chinese characters.

1,500 most common Chinese characters.


Last week, Chinese Twitter-like social network Weibo announced that starting today, January 28, it will begin a month-long trial of offering VIP users the option to publish up to 2,000 characters per post. Weibo plans to roll out the new feature to all 500 million users by February 28. The current character limit is 140.

This announcement comes hot on the heels of news that Twitter will increase its character limit from 140 to 10,000.

Weibo’s character limit increase won’t visually affect user timelines too much—since posts will show only the first 140 characters—but that’s partly the problem.

More room for content will certainly help with storytelling. However, Weibo’s main problem has less to do with text and more to do with visual experience, which is key for social media at the moment. Instagram and Tumblr led the way for visual dominant platforms in the west. In China, WeChat improved upon its Tencent predecessor QQ Messenger by offering users a more media rich experience and is currently the number one social network in China. Next generation networks like Snapchat, Meerkat and Periscope skew even purer visual, by featuring ephemeral video.

According to Weibo’s own data, only 10 percent of original posts surpass the current character limit. Furthermore, since the beginning, users have employed the basic solution of posting screenshots to circumvent the character limit. Despite this reality, a Weibo spokesperson told the South China Morning Post via email that increasing character limit will “offer greater choice and a better user experience”—a statement that seems misguided at best.

While Weibo has seen a user decline in recent years, it remains the second most popular social network in China and the platform of choice for PR due to its open, viral nature. Furthermore, no indigenous Instagram or Tumblr alternative has succeeded in capturing a large audience. Weibo is better positioned than any other player to make the leap to a visual driven platform by tweaking its interface (pair down features, enhance visuals) or creating a new platform and migrating users.

China Digital Roundup I Martell, Bomoda, Snap Fashion

A roundup on how digital is transforming our life and business – both in China and the rest of the world through December 5th.

Martell’s Savvy WeChat Campaign Engages China’s Frequent Flyers, by JingDaily

Martell WeChat

Travelers making their way through Beijing and Shanghai airports this fall can participate in an innovative new ad campaign by Martell Noblige Cognac that combined mobile and offline marketing with a focus on interactive participation by consumers. The campaign, entitled Dangdai MingshiYingxiang Xun Lu (当代名士•映像寻旅) in Chinese translated as “Modern Elites and their Journey of New Elegance”, sent famous photographer Justin Jin to 6 Chinese cities to photograph “men of elegance” .

The Beijing and Shanghai airports both featured interactive exhibition of Jin’s photography with a special QR code below each photo. Scanning the QR code allowed users to access the brand’s WeChat page and access profiles of each “elegant man” with audio descriptions of their accomplishments. The campaign also featured a free plane ticket giveaway to winning participants, and those who were not physically in the airport can send a number or voice command via WeChat in order to be entered in the drawing.

 

Bomoda Launches Mobile App Aimed at China’s Connected Fashionistas, by JingDaily

Popular - BOMODA

Since its launch in May 2012, New York City-based online community Bomoda has been building up a quarter-million strong network of China’s most discerning luxury shoppers through its Chinese-language online fashion and lifestyle newsletter. In the past two months, the curatorial site has embarked on a new chapter with the launch of its new mobile app and social sharing site, enlisting major brands, retailers, and key opinion leaders (KOLs) to promote a new interactive platform that is the first of its kind in the China market.

The new mobile app, launched on November 18 for the iPhone, allows for the sharing of images through the company’s new Pinterest-like social site that was unveiled in October. On the site, users have the opportunity to upload, share, collect, and repost their favorite fashion-related images, as well as share on major Chinese social media sites including WeChat Moments, Weibo, Tencent, QQ, and Tencent Weibo. Its high-fashion aesthetic makes it the first of its kind in China, standing out from other more mass-market Pinterest-like sites such as Meilishuo and Huaban.

 

Stores Offer Click & Collect to Attract Consumers this Holiday Season, by Luxury Daily

Click & Collect

Bricks-and-mortar retailers are having to compete with online retailers such as Amazon for the holiday shopping season, and they are finding new ways to get consumers to shop with them. A number of department stores offer click-and-collect services where consumers can order items online and pick them up in-person in-store and, in most cases, with no delivery fee. By doing this, stores are able to merge the ease of online shopping with speedier return, getting consumers to visit their stores in-person for convenience.

Click-and-collect is becoming more popular as it allows the customer the convenience of shopping from home, but [with] the instant gratification of receiving the purchase virtually instantaneously,” said Robert Cuthbertson, senior manager at Boston Retail Partners. “Customers can avoid long lines, busy fitting rooms, being overwhelmed with roaming racks and racks of clothes and product.”

 

Snap Fashion and Styloko: Search Using Images to Find The Perfect (and Cheapest) Wardrobe, by Metro

Snap Fashion app

Snap Fashion just might be your secret weapon this party season – the website is the perfect tool for finding the exact item a celebrity is wearing. You can also use its phone app to snap an image of a dress you find in a shop to browse for similar alternatives, or to find the perfect heels to match.

The technology trawls through thousands of possibilities to find you that exact item, before redirecting you to the retailer’s site to purchase. Or it will present you with styles similar to the item snapped, from a range of different brands and price points.

 

How Ready is Southeast Asia for Online Payments? by Tech In Asia

Online Payment APAC

Rapid economic expansion, a young population, and low-cost smartphones and tablets are creating tech-savvy generations across Southeast Asia. Major e-commerce players such as GrouponeBayRocket Internet, and LivingSocial have ventured into Southeast Asia, making significant investments into these markets. With increasing penetration of e-commerce into Southeast Asia, global payment companies such as PayPal are investing in the region. But as they do, stiff competition is being demonstrated from a number of local players.

While the industry’s potential is obvious, technology investors and global payment providers should be wary of rushing into these markets without understanding the cultural and regulatory differences of each country, which affect how merchants and consumers behave. A tailored strategy then, which considers the unique stages of each market’s development, factoring in technology, infrastructure, consumer preferences, and regulatory environment, is far superior to a regionalized blueprint approach.