With the fast development of the Internet and technology, social media have a significant role in Chinese users’ minds. Social media are the foundation of the rise of mobile e-commerce and e-commerce in general. More and more companies are doing online business through social media because the number of social media users are still increasing until now.
The development of China’s social media is different from that of Australia or America. In 1998, Chinese government enacted the law to protect local commerce and internet moral through building The Great Fire Wall. Since that moment, Chinese internet and social media were isolated from the global-scale social media. Chinese government totally controlled the access of the internet.
Although Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google cannot be used in China the increasing number of social media were created by Chinese companies and became popular. WeChat is one of the most powerful and influential platforms among Chinese-speaking group.
Users, in China at least, can order and pay for a taxi; donate to their favorite charity; send DIY postcards from whatever city they’re in; transfer money to a friend; find their nearest petrol station; check in for a flight; search a library catalogue for a book; shop; pay off a credit card; book a doctor’s appointment; follow the official accounts of celebrities ranging from Fan Bingbing to John Cusack; buy movie tickets; keep up with the Communist Party line via the People’s Daily (WeChat’s most heavily subscribed official account); check the points
on their driver’s license; top up their mobile accounts and find restaurant reviews, in some cases discovering how many people are queuing for tables before adding their names to the list. WeChat is, as David Pierce wrote in Wired magazine, ‘The Everything App’.
What is Wechat?
WeChat (Chinese: 微信; pinyin: Wēixìn; literally: “micro message”) is a mobile text and voice messaging communication service developed by Tencent in China, first released in January 2011. It is one of the largest standalone messaging apps by monthly active users.
The app is available on Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Symbian phones. Web-based OS Xand Windows clients also exist; these however require the user to have the app installed on a supported mobile phone for authentication, and neither message roaming nor ‘Moments’ are provided. As of May 2016, WeChat has over a billion created accounts, 700 million active users; with more than 70 million outside of China (as of December 2015).
WeChat provides text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messaging, broadcast (one-to-many) messaging, video conferencing, video games, sharing of photographs and videos, and location sharing. It can exchange contacts with people nearby via Bluetooth, as well as providing various features for contacting people at random if desired (if these are open to it), next to integration with social networking services such as those run by Facebook and Tencent QQ. Photographs may also be embellished with filters and captions, and a machine translation service is available.
For work purposes, companies and business communication, a special version of WeChat called Enterprise WeChat (or Qiye Weixin) was launched in April 2016. The app is meant to help employees separate work from private life. Except the usual chat features, the program lets companies and their employees keep track of annual leave days and expenses that need to be reimbursed, employees can ask for time off or even clock in to show they are at work. Security has been upgraded and companies must register before their employees can use the service.
WeChat Influence as
a MarketingChannel WeChat is a much more social tool than Weibo.
Weibo operates much like Twitter in that feeds are created to allow users to receive information as it is pushed out by chosen channels. WeChat is primarily a text and audio service between private users or small privately invited groups of up to 100 people. Users can extend their reach by posting ‘moments’ which are a stream of images, text and links that are available only to their exclusive contacts network.
WeChat’s moments are akin to the Facebook Wall concept, but in a more streamlined fashion.
In this way WeChat has made itself a much more potent tool for reaching tighter knit groups. The downside for business, is that because it is a chat app, marketing to each group is completely permission based. On this basis WeChat largely relies on an offline relationship, or a referral for a specific purpose to generate connections. WeChat is not generally somewhere to meet virtual friends, and consequently has a more limited viral impact.
WeChat does have features that allow random parties to become friends, but this type of use is fairly limited.
Forwarding can only be done inside the user’s groups, so vitality is limited to hopping from small group to small group-this means vitality is a more complex task than on Twitter or Weibo where posts can be automatically received by an almost unlimited number of followers.
Accessing any WeChat group can be tougher from a marketer’s point of view, but once you are in you have a more personal and direct influence than on many other platforms.
Chinese consumers on the whole tend to be more influenced by their peers than the average Western market and especially WeChat’s younger user base. This further reinforces the potential power of using WeChat for business when seeking to influence smaller groups and communities.
How to Use WeChat for Business
Use Verified Accounts
Individuals can follow verified brand accounts by either getting a member of their WeChat network to share their account or scanning a QR Code. High quality creative content is key to attract audiences. The verified account allows a brand to post rich media content including audio messages, videos, photos and text to followers of their WeChat stream.
Use Membership Functions to Convert Followers
WeChat membership functions can actually convert your followers into members. The functions create loyalty programs where individuals can use their geo-localized membership cards to pair up with users by their WeChat ID or phone number. This allows brands to adapt their marketing content and highlight sales promotions to a certain section of consumers.
There are three typical ways to apply WeChat into your marketing activities:
Issuing a virtual VIP card
Sending promotional offer notifications. Delivering e-coupons. To initiate business interactions with your customers a welcome message is a crucial step, especially for newbies.
You can also ask questions to convert inquiries to several sets of prescribed answers. To respond correctly to your customers, you can use five types of content including text, audio, visual, video and text+visual.
In addition, you can also choose to respond with a URL of a mobile-friendly site. Most importantly, the conversation remains confidential between you and your fans unless you or your fans wish to spread it out.
Use WeChat QR Codes to Promote Your Brand
You can actively convert fans through various means. One such means is to make your brand’s QR Code featured in all point of purchase materials.
Always give your consumers a reason to scan your QR code. A few inducements, such as top up promotion for a purchase, discounts, lucky draws, souvenirs or a free WiFi pass code are always appreciated.
Additionally, adding your QR code on your packaging is another great alternative. The best tactics to consider are to either feature your brand’s WeChat QR code on your Weibo page or promote your WeChat activities through wall posts to grab the attention of audiences.
Share Your Brand Images
Brands can get their due attention by displaying their logos on the subscribers’ personal pages. This allows brand followers a way to show off their personal tastes and preferences and you can choose whether or not to showcase your logo.
Incentivize to Entice Followers
WeChat’s API allows you to integrate the services into mobile apps to entice followers. However, consumers who follow a business on WeChat should be given a motivation to sign up. Offer
prizes, POS promotions, pictures or entertainment to optimize your conversion rate.
Create a Mini Website
Apart from conversation based on chats, WeChat enables brands to set up a full mini website to complete their brand experience. This website can be divided into two-level menus which can work as a series of marketing purposes. These two-level interacting menus are an important tool to better manage interaction with your fans. This can be set up on the WeChat account panel or with the help of third-party services.
WeChat is a marketing platform where brands can geo-target their community and specifically categorize people according to their gender and location.