This article is part of a series from our latest whitepaper, the China Social Media Platforms Guide. You can download the guide here: https://www.umssocial.com/china-social-media-platform-report/2023?s=blog
Many brands with experience in China have tried promotions on WeChat or have previously operated an Official Account. It’s never too late to start (or restart) engagement on WeChat, and we wanted to compare the features of WeChat alongside the other key platforms to help showcase the flexibility and promotional opportunities that other platforms provide. This multi-platform approach can help to complement and extend a brand’s ‘official presence’ on the internet in China, which starts with a WeChat Official Account.
WeChat is the most popular messaging app in China, made by the tech company Tencent. It combines a range of features for all aspects of life: including messaging, social feed, news, payments, live streaming, channels, apps, and games. The payment options cover goods and services, including utilities, travel, and healthcare among others. It combines features of similar platforms in the West such as Facebook, TikTok, WhatsApp and Instagram.
Over time it has become a “super-app” for users of all ages in China and is also available in a desktop version. This allows users to stay engaged throughout their workday, messaging colleagues in group chats, and checking in with individual family members. It has become an essential tool for brands looking to reach a large and engaged audience in China.
- Messaging: Offers similar functions to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, including images and videos. Sending voice messages is much faster than typing and is popular in direct messaging and group discussions.
- Voice and Video Calling: Not only the most popular social media app, WeChat has also become the default voice and video calling app in China.
- Moments: Users share pictures and updates with their friends on their Moments feed, similar to the Instagram feed or Facebook timeline. Text from the posts can be translated so that users outside China can read them.
- Payments: WeChat Pay is a highly popular payment function of goods and services in store and online. Many users carry a large balance in their ‘digital wallet’ inside the main WeChat app and scan QR codes to pay.
- Mini-Programs: Lightweight apps downloaded inside WeChat provide additional features to users, including ecommerce stores, without having to leave WeChat. Brands can offer Mini Programs with a range of features.
USERS AND BEHAVIOUR:
WeChat’s users are a mix of urban and rural users across China and cover all age demographics. Slightly more men than women are on the platform and WeChat is unusual amongst social media, because 42% of users are over 41. Users are also highly engaged, using the app dozens of times per day for messaging, and payments. It is common for users to look for comments and product reviews before making a purchase, which makes the opinions of influencers, peers and family very important in their purchase journey.
⭐ POPULAR CONTENT:
Diverse content ranges from personal updates to news articles, videos, and games. Users share photos and videos with friends as ‘Moments’ and follow their favourite Official Accounts for updates. Chinese influencers (known as Key Opinion Leaders or KOLs and Key Opinion Consumers or KOCs) share content regularly in blog format, image posts, video content and live-streaming. Influencer content is very popular and often boosted by the brands that are collaborating with KOLs. Mini Programs can combine content for a specific niche, service, or product.
Two types of Official Accounts are available for business use: Subscription Accounts and Service Accounts. Subscription Accounts are best for content-based marketing but are limited to one post per day. Service Accounts are more suitable for customer service and ecommerce and can send up to four messages per month to followers. Any user can set up a Personal Account but an Official Account is essential for a brand looking to engage with an audience.
These include Moments Ads, Article Banner Ads, Mini Program Ads, and Official Account Ads. They can be highly targeted and retargeted to users based on behaviour, interests, demographics, education, and mobile phone type. Mini Program Ads appear in search results, and Official Account Ads appear on relevant pages.
Search ads are now available, and brands can bid for higher rankings in relevant results. The most successful content is often upbeat campaign videos and image posts with strong visual appeal. Click-through rates vary depending on the number of exposures and how relevant content is to users.
Dedicated Mini Programs can offer a seamless shopping experience for users within the app, and WeChat Pay makes payments simple and secure. Official Accounts can set up a WeChat Mini Shop as a Mini Program, to sell products directly to users already following them. Users expect a quick response to queries and orders placed, and fast, affordable shipping. Interest in cross-border ecommerce and international shipping is likely to return, as more Chinese start travelling and studying overseas again.
WeChat can include features such as AI-powered chatbots to support customer service enquiries from buyers, making it a valuable tool for customer relationship management. WeChat Mini Programs also allow brands to access users’ phone numbers and send service messages directly to their inboxes. Chinese shoppers can often be impatient, and these features help a business to respond quickly to customer inquiries, which will improve their overall brand experience.
As the oldest and most trusted channel for social media in China, it is vital to have a professional and clear presence on WeChat. It will help to build brand awareness and engagement in China with a specific target market. Ensure marketing content is written by Chinese social media experts and ‘localised’ for China, and not just translated automatically from the English copywriting.
Other social media platforms provide more scope to have fun with a brand and try new things, however, there is still opportunity to leverage new trends when promoting a brand on WeChat and to reach a large audience. Businesses can build long-term relationships with their followers by creating relevant and engaging content. WeChat is the only social media platform that includes a social CRM, that can provide users with a more personalised experience and improved conversion.
Official accounts are a must-have for any brand serious about making the right impression in China. The platform maintains an outsized advantage over competitors because most of China uses the app to pay for everyday purchases and check it regularly as their main messaging platform, rather than SMS or email.
With its vast user base and active engagement, WeChat is a crucial platform for any business looking to succeed in China’s dynamic market. The wide range of capabilities makes it an effective platform for marketers to reach a target audience, build brand awareness and engage with existing customers, to build advocacy and encourage repeat purchases.
This article is part of a series from the latest whitepaper, our China Social Media Platforms Guide. You can download the guide here: https://www.umssocial.com/china-social-media-platform-report/2023?s=blog
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