China's Sina Weibo has expanded its presence to Thailand via a local partnership as the Internet giant hopes to capitalize on the market's large number of Chinese tourists.
The Nation reported Thursday Sina entered a partnership with Jiaranai Entertainment to form Weibo Thailand. It plans to spend 10 million baht (US$344,531) on marketing, aims to break even within six months, and generate between 20 million baht (US$689,062) and 30 million baht (US$1.03 million) in revenue within the first 12 months of operations.
It also expects to have an annual growth rate of 15 percent to 20 percent over the next two years, the report noted.
Guo Rui, managing director of Jiaranai Entertainment, said the first priority for Weibo Thailand will be to encourage the Thai tourism industry to connect with potential Chinese tourists. Some 3.8 million Chinese tourists are expected to visit Thailand this year, according to The Nation.
"Sixty percent of Chinese visiting Thailand are not first-time tourists. Thailand's tourism industry is the priority for us to focus on. The next focus industry is exports," Guo said.
Weibo Thailand aims to have 1.6 million active accounts in Thailand by the end of the first year of operations. "That is double the current number of active Weibo users in the country, who are mostly Chinese [living in Thailand]," she noted.
Guo said a distinguishing feature of Weibo is its account verification, which increases confidence among users, especially when using the platform as a business channel to connect to the Chinese market. Sina Weibo also has better features by combining elements of Twitter and Facebook, and mobile engagement, she added.
Nonetheless, she noted: "We do not want Thais to leave Facebook and Twitter to be on Weibo. But we would like to encourage them to benefit from Weibo as the gateway to the Chinese market."
Through this partnership, Weibo Thailand will also form a bridge between Thai and Chinese businesses, and be a gateway for local companies to enter China, the report added.
In a separate report by the Bangkok Post, Guo said since Facebook and Twitter cannot be acessed in China, Weibo is an alternative for Thai firms to enter the Chinese market.
She said Jiaranai Entertainment will carry out the verification service for companies in Thailand for a one-time fee of 60,000 baht (US$2067.19) and split the revenue with Sina. It will also provide consultancy, online marketing and translation services, she added.