Point of view: Twitter's Weibo smackdown

Peony Wu
Ogilvy & Mather China

With more than 300 million dedicated users across mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Sina Weibo is China's heavyweight answer to Twitter. Since the microblog burst onto the Chinese internet scene in 2009, shortly after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Sina's rise has been fierce and dramatic. Today, more than one quarter of the country's people rely on it for their daily social networking fix and to access up-to-the-minute news and gossip that even the censors can't keep up with.

One year after Sina's introduction, its primary competitor Tencent launched its own version of Weibo. Now the two media giants' total number of registered Weibo accounts easily outnumbers the current population of the US. While China's highly publicised censorship practices certainly play a role in driving Chinese netizens into the arms of Weibo platforms, their popularity is also rooted in Chinese people's micro-blogging habits. Weibo made its debut at just the right moment in time, offering interactive features and such a fun and easy user experience that it even won over Chinese communities in Hong Kong and Taiwan where Twitter is not banned or censored.