They say a baby who cries out the loudest gets the most attentions. It might be the golden rule of social media buzz as well. And this is what Liu QiangDong, founder of 360buy (China’s second largest B2C platform, sales in 2011 speculated between RMB 20 billion and 30 billion) is exactly trying to do in order to promote himself and his company in China’s social media, especially in Sina Weibo.

Liu QiangDong always enjoys the spotlight of Sina Weibo, his bickering with rivals, fight over investors, bombast about his company’s achievements etc.  And this time, this 38 years old divorcee, stirred the buzz again, by unintentionally revealing his secret lover out of the closet. All the high drama was actually triggered by a tiny tomato photo which he took at his home’s balcony and tweeted in Sina Weibo. Miraculously sharp eyes of weibo users soon discerned one of his subordinate directors also posted same tomato shot taken from her home in the same balcony. So connection made and the two should live together.

It is said this gossip is for real and no big news for 360buy’s internal employees. However what striking here is 360buy turned this “tomato love affair” into a marketing campaign for special sale of its fresh fruit and vegetable, including tomato of course. Additionally, embracing such headline attention, Liu QiangDong is murmuring his plan of launching the most drastic online price war anew.

360buy’s humble origin was an online retailer specialized in 3C (computer, communication and consumer electronics products), which was the building block of its success. But now its ambition is to wipe off that 3C image and transforming into an online shopping giant for everything and eventually supersede China’s e-commerce King Taobao. So where else can you find such perfect conduit to infuse such awareness to your online consumers other than Sina Weibo?

Again this story told how important brands and retailer need to invest in China’s social media. Internet gossip is an aid for social bonding for large groups in the virtual world. When seeds of gossip begin to sprout out, time for online marketers to kick in their market campaigns contingent to the scenario.

As for Liu QiangDong, such a clamorous man on Sina Weibo, he still managed to raise the highest amount of investment in China’s e-commerce financing history; his business is still managed to chug along the way, albeit under severe losses. More or less, can we say social media is partially counted for 360buy's gasping survival?  



By Cécilia Wu
English & Chinese Editorial Manager