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Microblogging Chinese style:

Alum has Sina Weibo account for the Badgers


by Laurie Dennis

October 2012

When UW-Madison computer science alum Tuo Wang saw the growing success of Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, he wanted to make sure his alma mater did not miss out.  So in early 2011, he applied for an account, securing the user name “UW-Madison” for the Badgers.

“I had my personal account, but I saw no UW account,” Wang said.  “Weibo was already very popular in China, which made me realize that it could be a great way to promote UW-Madison to the Chinese, and also establish connections between UW-Madison and Chinese faculty, education organizations, etc.”

“UW-Madison” now has more than 1,700 followers and this month became one of the few American university accounts to have the coveted “V” certification, meaning that it has been “verified” by Sina Weibo.  The site offers links to the UW-Madison home page, the Wisconsin China Initiative, the “Share the Wonderful” annual campaign, and to photos of the new UW-Madison Shanghai Innovation Office.  Recent posts describe Homecoming events, fall leaf color at Devil’s Lake and the visit to UW-Madison by President Barack Obama.

Sina Weibo has been described as a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook.  It is a Chinese-language microblogging site (“weibo” means “microblog” in Chinese) and was first launched by the Sina Corporation in 2009.  This spring, China Internet Watch reported that Sina Weibo had surpassed 300 million registered users, who generate more than 100 million posts every day.  As with Twitter, users have a 140-character limit, though with Sina Weibo that means 140 Chinese characters, which allows for longer posts.  Users can attach photos, music, emoticons and video files, and can re-post with additional comments.

The rise of social media in China will be the focus of an upcoming panel to be held in conjunction with the Sixth Annual China Town Hall Oct. 29.  Wisconsin China Initiative Director Nicole Huang will be the moderator for “Information Revolution: Social Media in China,” from 4-5 p.m. in room 226 of the Pyle Center.  Guest speaker Min Jiang of UNC-Charlotte will join UW-Madison professors Zhongdang Pan, Melanie Manion and Sida Liu to discuss such issues as how social media have impacted the 2012 leadership transition in China, how the legal the legal profession has been mobilized by mocrioblogs and how internet use affects civic engagement in China.

You can read more about the event on the calendar link, but you can also be sure that Tuo Wang will be mentioning the panel in future posts.

Tuo Wang, who received his Master’s Degree in computer science in 2010, currently works as a software engineer for the San Diego-based Qualcomm.  He and his wife, Lingxiao Li, are both from Xi’an in Shaanxi Province, but married in Madison.  Li still resides in Madison, where she is completing a PhD in the School of Business’ real estate program.

Wang said he works on posts to the UW-Madison site in the evenings after work, sifting through various web pages, event calendars, news sites and comments from friends (including the Wisconsin China Initiative!) to find interesting items about Madison life and students. 

“I collect all the information myself,” he said, and he welcomes submissions in both English and Chinese.

Once the UW-Madison site achieved verification, Wang connected with the UW-Madison coordinator for campus social media (#UWSocial) and then reformatted the Sina Weibo site to match current Badger sites.

With “verification” in hand, Wang hopes to see the UW-Madison site become a Big 10 leader on Sina Weibo.

“Purdue has over 3,000 followers,” he notes of the competition.  The University of Michigan has over 4,600 – and the Wolverine Sina Weibo managers consulted with Wang over how to get website verification.

As he posted recently in reply to the congratulations from followers over achieving verification:谢谢大家的支持!欢迎广而告之!(Thank you for your support! Please get the word out as widely as you can!)

Have a post for Tuo Wang? Send it to him by emailing ldennis@international.wisc.edu




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Click here to learn about President Obama’s “100,000 Strong Initiative” to increase the number and diversity of American students studying in China.


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