Popular social networking app Weibo (Sina Weibo) will continue its double-digit growth this year in China, according to eMarketer’s first forecast on Weibo usage. This year, Weibo usage will grow more than 17% to 340.1 million people in China. By the end of 2018, 24.6% of China’s population will be a Weibo user.
“Weibo has evolved into an entertainment platform that encompasses the features of Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, reddit and YouTube rolled into one,” eMarketer forecasting analyst Shelleen Shum said.
While user growth is slowing, Weibo will surpass 400 million users in China by 2021. This strong demand is propelling Weibo’s ad revenue. In September, eMarketer forecast that Weibo would generate $1.54 billion in net digital ad revenue this year, up 65.0% over last year.
Weibo began as a microblogging site similar to Twitter. However, in a shorter period of time, Weibo usage in China has far surpassed that of Twitter in the US, while growth continues to accelerate.
“Weibo has remained competitive by innovating away from text-based content to more visually rich formats such as videos, live streams and photos,” Shum said. “Its partnerships with local TV networks, foreign sports leagues, celebrities and online influencers have allowed it to create a rich library of engaging content that caters to a variety of interests.”
Three years after its launch in 2009, Weibo had 72 million users, far more than the 7.9 million Twitter had in the US three years after its debut.
“Twitter has taken strides in a similar direction to Weibo, but it was slower to move away from text-based content and has failed to integrate these different aspects as seamlessly as Weibo,” Shum said.