WeiboAgent: Understanding Chinese Consumers Via a Brand’s Weibo Followers
Currently in incubation at Chinaccelerator, American entrepreneur Michael Michelini has co-founded a brand-new service that aims to help brands do much better social media marketing on Sina Weibo, the nation’s hottest Twitter clone. Called WeiboAgent, it’s a SaaS advisory tool built on top of social media analytics. The goal, Michael says, is for brands “to understand what the Chinese customer wants – and doesn’t want – and adjust accordingly.”
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And so WeiboAgent has actual human advisors on hand, and it’s not just a way to post to Weibo. It’s currently being honed in closed beta, and Michael reckons that WeiboAgent will be fully up and running – and monetizing – even before the final Chinaccelerator demo day on October 31st.
We fired Michael a few emails to learn about the inception and mechanics of WeiboAgent:
How was Weibo Agent conceived?
I had been doing full service consulting here in Shenzhen for many years – e-commerce, SEO, social media – for both Chinese going abroad as well as for Western companies coming into China. Now more than ever we were getting requests for Chinese social media help, so the idea of a Chinese social media tool to help people better understand and improve their performance was born.
The idea was taken to Shanghai Lean Startup Machine weekend and our team learned and utilized the lean startup methodology to craft the business model and at the same time met a lot of other entrepreneurs, investors and incubator managers.
We had an outstanding presentation and got a ton of positive feedback – potential customers, advisors, investors, and incubators have all been contacting us and we are overwhelmed and extremely excited about the future.
How did you pitch Weibo Agent? What is the basic idea of the service?
We’ve been refining and practicing our pitch again and again. Here’s our 10 second pitch: “During the London Olympics there were 2x as many Chinese tweets – weibos – than tweets on Twitter. Chinese social media is something that businesses cannot ignore.”
Weibo Agent is a Chinese social media analytics and SaaS advice tool to understand what the Chinese customer wants – and doesn’t want – and adjust accordingly. Login, check your metrics, get feedback from real human advisors who’ve analyzed your account, and see results from your Chinese social media presence.
We are more an analytics and advisory tool rather than a client like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. We believe there is a bigger demand for people to understand and improve their Chinese social media rather than finding an easier way to post to it. Our lean startup canvas exercises are testament to this.
What is the plan after the incubator?
We love the Chinaccelerator concept and so far its been amazing; a perfect launchpad to test our product positioning and work under pressure from day one.
Our plan after Demo Day is the same as it is now: deliver a great product with a focus on our customers. If we find we need to raise a round to do that, we’ll go that route. The program ends on October 31st in Beijing with a Demo Day where we will be showcasing our startup to an elite room of investors. We are on track to come out of closed beta and to start monetizing before then.
How is it monetized?
We are learning pricing structures, and believe quarterly subscriptions for our advisory and outsourcing models [is the way to go]. Some clients just want us to give them tips every month for them or their staff to use, others want us to get more involved in the process. We are still developing this in the incubator, but the quick answer is quarterly service subscriptions.
You can request an invite to the WeiboAgent closed beta on its homepage.