In Part I of our Weibo insights, we looked at how China’s two most popular sports leagues, the Chinese Basketball Association and the Chinese Soccer League, were performing on the platform.
We’ve scaled up for Part II and asked how foreign leagues perform on Weibo.
The basketball National Basketball Association (NBA) and the football English Premier League (EPL) are two of the biggest sports leagues in the world. We crunched the numbers from the past three months to see if these leagues make any noise in the highly-coveted Chinese market, and provide you with some more check marktips for optimising your digital strategy.


basketball NBA = 32.9 millionfollowers.
football English Premier League = 3.2 million followers.
Big difference.  However, despite lagging behind in sheer size, the English Premier League has seen a 6.8% increase in followers over the last three months and continues to rise.
check mark A smaller following means more potential for growth, but NBA’s new followers were only 10k short of EPL’s. A strong content strategy means audience growth at all levels – NBA certainly has one.
basketball The NBA posted content over 6.5k times, averaging 86 times a day.
football English Premier League posted nearly 1.5k times an average of 18 times a day.
check mark Finding the right posting frequency is critical to a successful content strategy. It’s clear from the data that EPL need to increase theirs on Weibo.


basketball Links 73%| Hashtags 68%| Pictures34%| Videos37%| Reposts 19%| GIFS 2%
football Links 23%| Hashtags 35%| Pictures 38%| Videos 6%| Reposts 28%| GIFS 2%
check mark Original video is the most engaging form of content. EPL need to produce significantly more original video content and reduce their reposts in order to better engage and grow their audience.
check mark Don’t forget to build value on your own platforms.  Don’t just pay Weibo’s bills… NBA uses external links successfully that allows them to monetise their self-owned channels.

 What are they talking about?

 Talking hashtags…
basketball NBA’s top hashtag = #2017nba全明星周末#2017nba All-Star Weekend.  Posted 258 times and received 46k engagements.
Other popular hashtags included one referring to the year anniversary since Kobe Bryant retired (#KobeBryantretiresyear) and the Houston Rockets retiring Yao Ming’s number 11 jersey (#YaoMingjerseyretired).
check mark If you want to engage with basketball fans on Weibo, talk about the latest news, big players and key matches.
football EPL’s top hashtag = #英超| #premiership. Posted 203 times and received 89 engagements.
The most engaging content was birthday wishes to English Premier League footballers and historic moments from previous years.
check mark If you want to engage with football fans on Weibo, use the English Premier League hashtag and talk about historic moments. EPL need to start taking advantage of major events happening within the domestic league.

 When are people talking?

basketball NBA engagements peak between 10:00 and 12:00. This period accounted for 22.4% of all engagements, the time of most evening NBA matches in the USA.
football EPL’s engagements peak between 22:00 and 01:00. 25.5% of the daily average engagements came in this time period, which is in line with the typical match times in the UK.
check mark Take advantage of your sports events. Fans are most engaged at the time of the event. Be informative, emotive and topical to get the best response.

Currently, NBA dominates English Premier League on Weibo.  Although basketball is supremely popular in China, there are some digital tactics EPL can implement to catch up quickly and grow the soccer audience.
check mark NBA have evidently recognised their Chinese audience is massively different to their domestic audience. If you’re trying to engage in China, adopt NBA’s tailored approach.  More original content.  More video.  And use those all-important influencers specific to that audience.