Weibo Fake Account Cleanup Analysis
Updated: Jun 7, 2019
With its IPO launch last year, Weibo has been on a mission to kill off zombie fans. Beginning in April, Sina Weibo launched its third clean up campaign. All aspects of tourism, particularly airline, hotel, and shopping industries, have felt the impact of this clean up.
Airlines Popular foreign airlines on Weibo experienced a loss of over 10.5 million followers. The top four airlines that experienced the most lost were Asian airlines – Spring, Hainan, China Southern, and Hong Kong. Asian airlines may be the most susceptible to zombie fans as they are familiar with Weibo as a platform and are well-known in the Asian community. They obviously know how to use Weibo as six out of ten of the most popular posts from airlines in April were from Asian airlines.
Hotels During the April Weibo cleanup, the top two hotels most affected were 7 Days Inn Hotels and Holiday Inn Express Hotels by far. Both of these hotels are economy hotels. Mid-level hotels may need to put in more effort to gain a sizeable following as they are less well-known compared to big names like Hilton and Sheraton. They may hire zombie fans to share posts and campaigns. Both of these brands generally have about 5-10 shares and eight comments for each post. Seeing one or two posts with about 100 shares and comments seems off. However, this is what happened with Holiday Inn Express Hotels on April 30th. It received 113 shares and 94 comments on its post.
Shopping Following a similar pattern with airlines, the top four shoppings brands that received the greatest hit are Shinsegae, Uniqlo, Shilla Duty Free, and Lotte. These are all Asian brands. These four companies lost hundreds of thousands of fans each while other companies just lost 65,000 fans or less. Again, this could be attributed to the fact that these brands are more familiar with Chinese social media and understand that you can just buy fans to fill up your following.
While we cannot know for certain whether these brands purchased zombie fans or simply lost followers during this time, there are some common trends in the brands that were hit the most. Buying zombie fans isn’t illegal but it’s certainly deceitful. Hopefully this clean up serves as a wake up call for brands and paves the way for more honest, innovative posts and campaigns.