Social media drive helps lift 'Double 11' sales for Alibaba, Tencent

Alibaba and Tencent post record transactions on Monday, thanks to free gifts and rewards promoted on their online messaging platforms

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 November, 2013, 3:18am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 November, 2013, 3:18am

Social media campaigns helped mainland internet giants Alibaba Group and Tencent post record-high transactions on "Double 11", the world's biggest online shopping festival.

Analysts said Alibaba, through its marketing on microblogging platform Sina Weibo, and Tencent, with campaigns on its popular WeChat social mobile-messaging service, had demonstrated the effectiveness of having a "social commerce" strategy for Monday's shopping festival, previously known as "Singles' Day".

Alicia Yap, the head of China internet research at Barclays, said in a report yesterday that "Weibo has become an important medium for Alibaba to promote the event and direct traffic" to its market-leading online retail portals Taobao Marketplace and

Hangzhou-based Alibaba, which kicked off its Double 11 promotions on October 15, worked with Sina Weibo in a campaign that gave free gifts to users who shared their online shopping experiences on the Twitter-like microblogging site. Alibaba had earlier announced cash rewards of 200 million yuan (HK$254 million) on and 100 million yuan on online payment affiliate Alipay, and free gifts of up to 100 internet-linked "smart" televisions.

Shanghai-based online media group Sina sold an 18 per cent stake in its Weibo business to e-commerce kingpin Alibaba for US$586 million earlier this year.

The Weibo-linked campaign was important for Alibaba because the company worked with more than 300 brands, which encouraged shoppers to visit the physical stores on the mainland selling their goods, about 30,000 in total, in the days leading up to Double 11.

Adam Xu, a director of Booz and Co Greater China, said promoting shopping information and discussion on transactions, services and products "increases the public's interest in interacting with e-commerce and their understanding of online shopping".

The total gross merchandise volume achieved by and Taobao Marketplace on Monday hit a daily record 35.01 billion yuan. That topped the 19.1 billion yuan total on November 11 last year and 5.3 billion yuan in 2011.

Initial estimates released by Tencent, the mainland's largest listed internet company, showed that its 51buy online shopping website was on track to generate gross merchandise volume of more than 500 million yuan in Double 11 transactions, thanks to an integrated campaign on WeChat.

Yap said 51buy's total number of orders was expected to surpass 600,000 for the day, up 500 per cent from 100,000 orders last year.

Tencent's 51buy campaign on WeChat allowed smartphone users to view, make orders and finish payment directly on the social mobile-messaging platform.

"Although this campaign only targeted four first-tier cities - Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen - total orders via the WeChat channels likely exceeded 80,000 orders for the day," Yap said.

Shenzhen-based Tencent started its campaign, which included major brands such as Apple, Samsung Electronics, Lenovo, Sony and Skyworth, on November 4.