Amy Collins on Data: Introducing Premium Sina Weibo Data Bundles

Following on from last week’s Facebook announcements, I’ve got another new data product to launch: Sina Weibo.

Overview: Sina Weibo

For the uninitiated, Sina Weibo is a huge Chinese social network. Weibo simply means “microblog” – so it’s closest western equivalent is probably Twitter: 

What about QQ and WeChat you say? Well although they have high usage, the majority of their conversations are private; Sina’s the largest public social network in Asia-Pacific. As well as being public, it’s also a place where people are expressive and speak relatively openly about their experiences.

What can I use it for?

Many of our customers are western brands and agencies who have customers across the globe and need a window into what’s happening in these markets. Sina Weibo provides the best volume, velocity, and variety for Asia-Pacific data, especially when you consider how hard Chinese social data is to access. 

Sina Weibo can be hugely useful for a few major use cases:

  1. Brand Tracking – We’ve seen a surprising volume of conversation about western brands in China, both using their English names and the Chinese terms
  2. Consumer Insights – People use Sina Weibo to talk relatively freely about any aspects of their lives, giving a useful footprint for anyone looking to understand
  3. Brand Protection – We just sold the new data product to a major technology company about their plans to use the data to spot leaks out of their manufacturing facilities in China

So what does the data look like?

From today, Brandwatch supplies the highest grade access to Sina Weibo data for use within Brandwatch Analytics and Vizia.

The good news is the data looks broadly like any other data in Brandwatch analytics:

How do the data bundles work?

For Sina Weibo, you take out a subscription to a data plan along side your analytics subscription. At a very high level, it includes two things:

  1. Incidental Coverage: Ability to access our archive of Sina Weibo data for use in your regular Brandwatch Queries. This is analogous to the main Brandwatch Analytics subscription, where as well as accessing the data that you’ve asked us to search for, you can also benefit from any other data we’ve collected for other customers. As the product is just launching, we don’t have a lot of data in the archive, but it’s growing all the time.
  2. Data Download Allowance: This is the core part of the bundle. You tell us which keywords and authors to follow, we send them to Sina and then we start receiving a stream of matches then store it in our archive. For everything we download on your behalf, we track it against your allowance. So if you search for very broad terms, we’ll download a lot of data from Sina and burn through your allowance quickly.

So this requesting data thing is the same as a Query…right?

Well kind of. For data sources where we have an all you can eat deal (like Twitter), we dismantle your Query, convert it into Twitter language and pass the request on. For something like Sina, where the underlying costs are so much higher and we pay for what we download, we needed to be more granular. I’m going to use a slightly weird metaphor that should explain this concept:

Think of our archive of data like a bathtub.The bath taps are always flowing, filling the bath with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Disqus, Web Data, News Content, etc. (In case you’re wondering, it’s a magic bathtub that will never overflow).

You have buckets with which you can scoop out some of the water in the bathtub for your own usage. If you’re subscribed to a Mention based account, you have unlimited buckets, but pay for the amount of water that you scooped out… I.e. you can scoop up to 10 liters of water per month (10 million mention plan). If you’re on a Query based account we give you 10 buckets and you can fill them with whatever you like.  This is normal Brandwatch Analytics behavior.

For Sina, we’re adding another tap. For this tap, we pay for each drop that comes out of the tap. So we’re telling Sina just to send water down the pipe that customers have asked us for. We have a water meter just above the tap which bills each drop to the customer that requested it. The key is – it’s a two stage process… (1) tell Sina what to send down the pipe, (2) query… I mean… ‘scoop’ the data, sorry… ‘water’ out of the bath. You get what I mean right? Right?

(With writing like this, it’s only a matter of time before they take my WordPress account off me)

So, long story short – you still need to Query the data out after you told us what you want to follow.

How do I request that a keyword is tracked?

Initially, this is a manual process. Don’t worry, it’s pretty quick, you just shoot a message to our support team (or your Customer Success manager) and we add it in. You can request changes at any time. We have plans to add an interface to allow you to manage the keywords a little further down the road.

How do I keep track of my data bundle usage?

Good question. We’re aware that staying on top of this stuff can be tricky even for regular Brandwatch data, let alone this premium stuff. It would be frustrating to burn through it all in a few days.

For this reason, we send you an email at various points throughout your monthly usage: We send you a weekly usage email with a spreadsheet attached with the keywords that you’re tracking and how much data they’ve billed. We also send you an alert once you’ve reached 50% of your allowance, 90% and when you’ve run out.

So how much do the Sina Weibo data plans cost?

As I hinted at above, you pay based on the volume you download. We knew that there’d be a big range of customers in terms of needs and we also knew that we wanted to keep it accessible… A product that was limited only to our largest customers would not serve the demand that we’re hearing from across the market.

Our packages are bought in increments of 100K Sina Weibo posts (if it were Twitter, I’d say Tweets… Weibs? Nevermind.)

As with most SaaS offerings, the cheapest packages are for a 12-month commitment: The entry-level, 100K package costs $400 / £360 / €400  per month. We obviously offer volume discounts at the higher tiers.

We also do shorter term options, which are a little more expensive starting at $600 / £540 / €600  for 100K for a one month plan with no ongoing commitment. Unless it really is a one-time thing, I’d urge you to look at an ongoing subscription as you can only see the data in our archive, while you have an active Sina Weibo data plan.

If you’re an existing Brandwatch customer and you’re interested in getting access please speak with your customer success manager.

If you’re not a Brandwatch customer, but want to find out more, click here to schedule a demo.


As always, if you have any questions – scroll down to the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer transparently.

Have a lovely holiday & new year