How do you make money off Twitter? A firm from China takes on an interesting business model where it “incubates” Sina Weibo (China’s Twitter equivalent) accounts then later sells them for a price.
An active Sina Weibo user (@jiuhongbinglan) actually runs a company with a core business of collecting followers for microblog accounts that are sold at a later date. A Sina weibo account with over 200,000 followers was reportedly sold to an enterprise at the price of “several hundred thousand rmb.” Interestingly, it only took Jiuhongbinglan 40 days to amass that many followers for the account.
Jiuhongbinglan and her company are now “incubating” around 100 Weibo accounts, which collectively have around 2 million followers. The Report mentions that a venture capitalist valued these accounts at around RMB 5-8 million ($760k-1.2 million). Each account focuses on a different industry, such as cars, pets, shoes, etc., and is kept in stealth mode until it is sold.
Furthermore, Jiuhongbinglan also charges customers by publishing tweets or retweeting. She actually has a Taobao shop (China’s version of eBay) which lists the price of one retweet on an account with 200,000 followers at around rmb 200-300 ($30-45). This is actually a very effective and inexpensive way to market goods and services locally. She claims that in a promotion campaign on Taobao, one tweet from an account she owns was retweeted 20,000 times. This generated 18,000 unique views and more or less 2000 transactions in the following week.