UPDATE 2015: much has changed since I wrote this 4 years ago…weibo is now quite out of fashion and everyone is now using Wechat. Please download the wechat app and sign up for my Official Account: myhealthbeijing. Or scan this QR code:
I’ve become a big fan of Weibo, China’s microblogging website that is similar — but far superior — to Twitter (my Weibo account is here. I’m finding Weibo to be a terrific medium to convey health information to Chinese people, and I’m starting to see a lot more expats logging on. The major issue for expats is the language barrier, as the website is only in Chinese. Once you log in each time, you can write in whatever language you want, but the interface is tricky if you don’t know any Chinese characters. This will change by the end of the year when they update their software, but for now it’s a bit mafan if you don’t know any Chinese. But as of last month, anyone can use Weibo in English — by using the Weibo app for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPads. Here’s how:
If you already have a Weibo account and use the iPhone app, converting to English is easy: just click on the “More” icon (更多) in the lower right corner of the app, then click on the “Settings” icon ! (设置) just at the top; then click on the “Language” icon (多语言环境) in the middle; hit “English” and you’re done!
If you don’t yet have a Weibo account: it’s easiest to go first to the weibo.com website and make a new account, then download the Weibo app to your iPhone and then login via your email and password. The hardest part is registering if you don’t know Chinese:
Step 1: Go To Weibo.com. On the right side of their screen is a big green button which you should click on. See the image below:
Step 2: registering a new account. You can choose to get a confirmation via mobile phone or by email, but I think email is easiest. If your Chinese is nonexistent, I strongly recommend you use Google’s Chrome browser both now and whenever you visit any Chinese website. The main reason is one of their awesome features; you can instantly translate any webpage with a click of the button. See the image below for the example on Weibo: click on “Translate” at top and the page becomes passable English. By the way, if you click and it says “error”, keep clicking! It works almost 100% of the time.
OK, now we can see the instructions in English, as seen in the next image. Just follow the image below; the trickiest part is picking a strong password and a cool Weibo screen name. Once you are done, hit enter, follow the confirmation instructions in your email or mobile, and you’re now on Weibo!
Step 3: Download the Weibo app to your device. This part is easy for anyone who has an iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad. Just go to your app store, search for “Weibo” and download the official app from Sina (it’s probably listed in Chinese; their official app download page is here). When you open it for the first time, you have to enter your email address (the top field) and then your password (the second field), and then hit the left button. Then you follow the instructions above under “if you already have a Weibo account” to switch the app to English.
Step 4: Become my fan! You can find my account at weibo.com/daniudaifu. My Weibo screen name is “全科医生圣西睿智Richard”. No, it’s not a very catchy screen name but it gets to the point; in Chinese it means “Doctor Richard Saint Cyr”. I usually update my Weibo a couple times a day with health tips and public health alerts. I usually write in English but am also trying to type more Chinese. You can see my Weibo account here; you can also scroll through my latest Weibo posts here on this website, along the right side of this screen.