Sina Weibo enhances recreational emphasis for further growth

China's Twitter-like social platform has transformed to provide more recreational and entertainment topics in a bid to further expand its penetration among younger groups and second and third-tier cities.

As its initial function as a real-time information provider has come to the bottleneck in China due to the popularity of other social platforms such as Tencent's WeChat, Sina Weibo's efforts in enhancing recreational content and fostering internet stars in recent years have started to harvest.

According to data services firm QuestMobile, monthly active users on Sina Weibo have reached 312 million as of the end June, up 66.2 percent over the same period last year, making it the seventh most active application in China, up from the ninth place in 2015.

Weibo's penetration in China's first-tier cities including Beijing and Shanghai has reached 50 percent, up around 10 percent from last year. Penetration rates in other cities are currently between 20 to 30 percent, but the US-listed company believes that gap between first-tier cities and other cities will vanish within two to three years due to its accelerating transformation, which puts more emphasis on recreational content such as travel, cars, TV, movies, and food.

In the first quarter, 12 topics on Sina Weibo, including entertainment stars, animation, fashion and movies, have all attracted over 10 billion clicks in each single month, said the report, adding that these topics have brought significant growth of new Weibo users outside the first-tier Chinese cities, and many of them in the younger age group.

Papi Jiang has accumulated nearly 17 million followers on her Sina Weibo account in less than a year and most of her self-made video clips on Weibo have been watched more than 100 million times. During her live streaming on Monday, clicks on the topic of "Papi Jiang live streaming" have exceeded 400 million on Sina Weibo, according to a Sohu news report.

Weibo beat Twitter to lifting its character limit on posts earlier this year.