Radiohead’s Sina weibo account.
Radiohead is now the latest in a growing (if slowly) trend of Western celebs opening Sina weibo accounts to reach out to their Chinese followers. Last Friday, the English mega-stars made their inaugural “tweet”, which was a rather lifeless “testing the weibo.” Either they didn’t expect the resulting response, or they simply didn’t care to draft an initial message with any feeling to the Chinese weibo universe. That intial post has, in four days, been forwarded almost 11,000 times and received 4,100 comments, and they have received over 60,000 followers.
The big deal here is that Radiohead’s activism concerning China hasn’t exactly been subtle in the past. They’ve used social media to support Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, and have performed at high-profile Free Tibet events. So the weibo account comes as a bit of a surprise, considering the current atmosphere in China.
It makes one wonder whether there were agreements made over content before Sina gave them their little golden “verified account” certification (which has been confirmed by Sina.) If China lets massive international rock stars onto its most active social media platform only to muzzle them if they start spouting politics, I can’t see there being much benefit to either party. And in this scenario, China would definitely come out the losers, PR-wise.
Another interesting observation involves their ballooning followers. While most of the four-thousand-odd comments seem genuine (and super duper excited), the 60,000 fans are less so. Just a quick glance at the list reveals what appear to be quite a few suspect accounts (no pic, no followers.) Hard to say what’s causing this phenomenon.
Other high-profile stars to jump on the weibo bus include Tom Cruise and Bill Gates, who have gathered 2.5 and 1.5 million fans respectively. Maybe Radiohead will make weibo seem “cool” to an international audience and will kick off whole wave of new adherents!
Hey, it’s possible! And probably more likely than any foreigners actually signing up for Sina’s planned English-language Twitter competitor.