Social media behind the Great Firewall of China is about to change, though most of the country's many millions of microbloggers might not notice much difference in their online experience. The change involves branding, with "weibo.com" both outwardly and inwardly mirroring Sina Corp.'s immensely popular Sina Weibo site, previously listed as "t.sina.com.cn". The graphic logo which some say resembles an eye wrapped in a scarf will also stay the same.
Chinese netizens have flocked to China's equivalent to Twitter since Sina first launched its microblog service in August of 2009. By the end of January 2011 the site boasted 70 million users; today it has over 100 million and the time has come for the site to have a stand-alone domain name.
“It's a milestone for Sina Weibo," stated Charles Chao, Sina Corp,'s president and CEO. Chao reassured both users and investors that Sina will continue its generous investment in microblogging services, with the Sina microblog mobile site following Sina Weibo in the rebranding.
Chao may have been inspired by the concept of Twitter but he once again took pains to distance Weibo.com from its western counterpart. "The evolution of Chinese social media will be different from Twitter or Facebook,” explained Chao, “as Weibo features high interactivity.”
Finger-pointing aside, no one can argue with the success of social media in China, a nation not far removed from the stifling “thought control” of the Red Guards and the Gang Of Four.
Today China's 420 million netizens – the largest such grouping on the planet – has managed to employ social media to enrich their lives while avoiding upsetting the political applecart.
For Sina Corp., the new domain name and expected further development of the Weibo brand is “One small step for Sina, one giant leap for microblogging,” according to one approving Chinese netizen. I guess the only remaining question is, what's the Weibo equivalent of a “tweet”? (via Xinhuanet, Techrice, and TNW)