Micro blog a big way to do a little business

Updated: 2012-03-12 07:38

By Yang Yijun in Shanghai (China Daily)

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With the micro blog becoming a frequently used everyday tool for many people, smart business minds in East China's Zhejiang province have started to take advantage of the busy platform.

An ordinary stall selling Chinese omelette (dan bing) in Wenzhou city became popular overnight after a delivery service called "Zhaijibang Fetch-and-carry" was offered through a micro blog.

Micro blog a big way to do a little business

The delivery agency soon received more than 40 orders and bought all the omelettes the stall had. And there was instant feedback. Some customers even commented in the micro blog that the omelettes were still hot when they received them.

The micro blog account is the agency's only mode of business. Their followers can place their orders by private messages in a micro blog, indicating what product they want, their address, phone number and the time they would like the products delivered.

"We mainly deliver fruit, night snacks and any takeaway food. We are also the authorized express delivery agency for Pizza Hut in Wenzhou," said Tao Jincheng, 23, owner of the agency.

The micro blog account, which was opened in 2011, now has more than 23,000 followers and receives around 200 orders daily.

The delivery fee is about 15 yuan and varies according to distance and weather conditions.

"It's more expensive than an ordinary express delivery company, but express companies can't carry warm food to customers 24 hours a day," Tao said.

In the provincial capital, Hangzhou, where it is often hard to get a taxi, a team of 21 taxi drivers rely on micro blog and Weixin, a mobile phone application similar to Whatsapp, for their bookings.

Customers can send messages to the team's account and tell them when they need a taxi, their starting point and destination. The drivers reply with their phone number and taxi plate numbers.

"We don't have an extra charge for the reservation, but we usually only accept orders where the taxi fare is above 50 yuan ($8). Now I get six to eight bookings a day, many of which are from the city center to the airport, and my income is higher than before," said Jiang Ye, 39, leader of the team.

"Our customers welcome the new type of reservation platform, as they can reach the drivers directly and it makes it easier for them to get a taxi. And we sometimes offer a 10 percent discount for a long-distance trip," he said.

Tong Keyi, a 22-year-old university student in Hangzhou, started her second-hand handbag business on micro blog a year ago. Now her turnover has grown from 10,000 yuan to 1 million.

"I think it's better to sell second-hand bags through micro blog than on an e-commerce website like Taobao," she said.

"Taobao is full of large-scale stores now, so it's very difficult to develop an online store from nothing. Whereas doing business on micro blog sites is not that common and I believe there is space for development."

She added: "I got my account verified, so the customers will trust that the handbags I sell are authentic."

Liu Zheng, the consulting director of Analysys International's Shanghai branch, specializing in Internet market research, said that compared to traditional ways of selling products, using micro blog is more direct and cheaper.

"Micro blog helps the businessman reach target clients and interact with them directly. The interaction also helps to establish customer loyalty. In addition, if a customer posts a micro blog about the product, it may attract some of his or her friends as customers," he said.

You may contact the writer at yangyijun@chinadaily.com.cn.

Men hold the dominant position

The most influential micro-blogger on China's social network is a 40-something male, a report by Fudan University found.

Men hold a dominant position on micro blogs, the report found, accounting for 91 percent among the top 100, and the top 20 most influential bloggers are all men. No government official is among the top 100.

The report, A Study on Opinion Leaders of Chinese Micro Blogs, was the first such study in the country. The report listed the 100 most authoritive users among 5,000 candidates from Sina Weibo, the country's most popular micro blog.

The criteria used to select candidates include personal influence on the Internet and traditional media, affinity with other users, controversy of topics raised and active participation, said Zhang Zhi'an, lead author of the report and a researcher at the Shanghai Social Science Innovation Research Center.

Although those born in the 1990s are the most active users, people aged 30 to 40 account for 72 percent of the top 100.

Entrepreneurs appear most frequently on the list but many have a number of "not-so-high-quality" followers. Media people boast the largest number of followers and provide the most widely sourced news.

Xu Junqian