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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Lifestyle -> 
SPEAKING OUT LOUD ONLINE
    2014-05-16  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Tan Yifan

    cicitan2011@gmail.com

    IT would be hard for those who lived 20 years ago to believe that they could voice their thoughts to the public whenever they want without a journalism degree. Although they typed away on their clumsy computers, spreading messages online was still limited to a small group of IT geeks.

    But today, we don’t even have to switch on a computer — simply by touching and flipping our smartphone screens, hundreds of fresh ideas and news items present themselves in front of us. Scrolling down, we can read elaborate posts typed by different individuals and share pictures. We can subscribe to various short articles through microblogs, apps, WeChat or other online social networks. The writers might be professionals in a particular field or just a kid who lives next door.

    In general, these new news sources are called “grassroots media” or “We Media.” Many people who spend several hours a day creating short but eye-catching passages are not street journalists who report breaking news around them. They are grassroots media writers. They might not even know that term, but that doesn’t stop them from creating hype and gathering a large group of fans.

    “I opened my own Sina Weibo account a few years ago and now have a WeChat account with over 60,000 followers,” said Liu Bin, owner of the locally based WeChat wine education account “wikiwine,” during a fans meeting event at Shekou’s Sourceland Wine Cellar. “Unlike average users who talk a bit about their lives from time to time, I only write wine-related articles and post at least one original piece of writing a day.”

    Working in the wine business for around 10 years and once serving on an online wine information platform, Liu knows about wine and his target readers.

    “I want to have my own brand, not to make my own wine label, but to create a professional online media presence. I don’t expect to make big money out of it, but I would like to make it valuable,” Liu said.

    “Two years ago, people still relied on microblogs to build their media presence, but now many of them have switched to WeChat, which does not limit the size of a post and lets account owners know more details about their followers.”

    WeChat’s number of overseas users increases by over 300 percent every day, according to Xinhua news. WeChat now seems to be a more effective and promising platform for users to reach more readers both in and out of China.

    “The ways to run a WeChat account are basically the same as all microblogs [all you have to do is to write and post pictures], but since it is based on a fandom that includes users’ friends, relatives and other familiar faces, it will help you build a more real and effective reader group,” Liu said.

    Before creating an account, users are encouraged to study different online social media platforms. For example, it will be more effective if you apply for a VIP account and post exclusive breaking news on Sina Weibo to build a larger readership within a short time. But if you are a WeChat user, you’d better apply for a public account and remove the information that is too personal.

    Having many friends on your WeChat platform will save you a lot of time drawing fans’ attention, but Liu stressed that the key to operating a successful WeChat account is to write authentic, high-quality posts.

    “The content decides everything,” Liu said. “No matter what platform you plan to use and what new ideas you have in mind, the only way to entertain your readers and get your posts going viral is to make sure your writing is interesting with a unique take.”

    Many readers unfollow accounts because they get bored of the style of writing and the topics they read.

    “It is common to find your fans unfollowing your account after you have just uploaded a post; only be alarmed if they are leaving because the content is boring,” Liu advised. “You should focus on the areas that you are familiar with and try not to cover every aspect of life.”

    Besides original content, writers can repost others’ articles on their platform, but they need to cite the source and limit the volume. After all, readers want original content, not repeated ones.

    Liu also suggests that users classify their posts. Some microblogs do not provide classifying services, but if you use WeChat, you will find that you can post more than one article at a time.

    “You can have several pieces of news in one post and send it once a day. But make sure the news pieces are designed for different readers,” Liu said.

    “For example, I once sent very professional articles to all of my subscribers and it didn’t win many fans. Now I will only write one article on professional wine-related issues and the rest of the posts are on common-interest topics.”

    Some account operators like to post videos, gif pictures and add links all in one article, which Liu advises against.

    “When you post an article, you have to be aware of the speed of a reader’s Internet. For smartphone users, many of them still use 3G service. If your file is large enough to cause Internet traffic jams, you’d better take off the videos or gif pictures,” Liu said.

    “Less than half of the readers will click on the link inserted in a given article.”

    Liu also said page settings are important. Writers need to wisely choose the colors they will use, the size and font of characters and pictures.

    “Try to avoid vertical pictures,” Liu said. “Use transverse pictures if you want to add one in the article on your WeChat platform, and make sure the size isn’t too big. Also you need to use clear pictures.”

    “You should know the right time to send out your post,” Liu continued. “You can carry out a readership survey to figure out the reading habits of your target readers. Generally, the best time to send out a post is in the early morning or at night — when people are free to check the news on their cell phones.”

    Some account owners will organize offline activities and send gifts to fans. But if the quality of the content declines, the activities will not help retain faithful followers.

    “Some people put advertisements in their posts, which are not a totally bad thing, but to win fans they need to remember that hard selling will never draw people’s interest. They should never put ads at the top of their posts,” Liu said.

    “Update your account frequently and make adjustments when necessary; you will be surprised to see the data curve of your followers rise far above the horizontal line.”

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