Considered the “everything app” for China’s smartphone owners, WeChat has become the must-have tool for foreign companies that want to expand their activities in the world’s most populous country. By reuniting all the services similar to Facebook, Skype, Slack, Amazon, and PayPal, WeChat is not only a powerful social app for Chinese consumers, but is at the core of business corporate strategies in China.
That’s why it is important to understand WeChat’s ecosystem and rules, as well as Chinese consumers’ habits, in order to know how to take advantage of WeChat to develop your business in China and attract Chinese netizens.
What is WeChat?
Developed by China’s top tech company Tencent, WeChat (known as Weixin 微信 in China) was launched in 2011 in Mainland China. Called ‘the app of everything’, WeChat quickly became the world’s largest standalone mobile app, reaching 1,26 billion monthly active users in 2023.
WeChat offers many useful features for individuals and companies, from chats, and video calls, to booking taxis and shopping in Wechat mini-programs. This is why it’s important to have a well-thought Wechat marketing strategy so that you don’t miss out on opportunities that come with the app.
WeChat’s ecosystem is one of the most complete apps in the world, providing text messaging with a hold-to-talk functionality, video conferencing, video games, but it also acts as a social media such as Instagram or Facebook with the possibility of sharing pictures and videos on what is called “WeChat Moments”.
As you can see, we can do almost everything just by using a single app that provides a wide variety of services.
Why is WeChat used by the Chinese population in their daily lives?
While our days are punctuated by the use of instant messaging and multiple social media, Chinese people are mainly using WeChat to do almost everything. From the beginning till the end of the day, Chinese people are using the WeChat ecosystem.
Even though WeChat is the main app for Chinese consumers that are using it in their daily lives, in terms of marketing, it is important to take into account that WeChat is a closed platform, and users can only see their friends’ posts. Thankfully, brands can interact with subscribers (people following the brand’s official account on WeChat) on a personalized level.
How to Use WeChat to promote and sell cosmetics in China?
There are many different ways how brands can use WeChat, but in order to leverage all the business opportunities out there, the WeChat journey needs to start with a creation of a WeChat Official Account.
WeChat Official Account
The foundation of successful WeChat marketing is a business account – it’s the key to capturing new potential customers, growing brand awareness and loyalty, sending push notifications to followers, as well as redirecting them back to your website or e-commerce page.
Strategic content that showcases quality also plays a critical role in being able to reach out into China’s massive market share – with numerous international brands now relying on Wechat for their promotional efforts. WeChat official accounts unlock many advanced tools for marketers, like big data, paid advertising, mini-programs, WeChat payment method, and more.
What are the different types of WeChat Official Accounts?
There are four types of WeChat business accounts; Wechat service accounts, WeChat subscription accounts, WeChat Work, and WeChat mini-programs. WeChat Work is an enterprise account for internal communication within the company, so we won’t discuss it today. Mini-programs are useful for business as well, but they are an additional tool and we advise you to start by setting up a service or subscription account first.
WeChat Subscription account: It allows a broadcast message per day to subscribers. The messages appear in the Wechat subscription account folder. It is used for marketing and advertising, but mainly by media outlets and institutions because the messages go to the subscription folder.
Wechat Service account: It allows up to four messages per month. Messages appear in the friends’ list and come with a push notification. Audited accounts have access to advanced APIs (APIs) and can apply for WeChat Pay. Those are also the only accounts available to foreign companies.
The importance of having a verified business account
Many cosmetics companies have a Wechat account that people can follow, subscribe to, and add to their network. However, it’s important to remember about verifying your business account.
A verified account shows that WeChat recognizes that the account is official and shares high-quality and creative content. Thanks to that recognition, the brand can attract consumers by posting high-quality media content such as videos, pictures, and text messages for their followers. On another hand, consumers are more comfortable when they know that the WeChat account is verified and they will be more likely to subscribe.
How to apply for a WeChat business account?
If you want to create a WeChat official account, you have to have a Chinese entity or get help from a Chinese company. The permanent solution is registering your foreign enterprise in China in order to get a Chinese license, it will be a little bit more expensive and will take 6 months.
There are many options to choose from, so the best is to contact us, and we will advise you on the most suitable option for your brand.
Growing your follower base on WeChat is key
When you already have an official account, you can start engaging with WeChat users by posting interesting content. Growing the follower base is the key for any new brand or business on WeChat. With WeChat being a closed network, users can only see posts & content if they are following your account, so you’ll have to encourage them to do so.
From our experience, there is a magic number when it comes to WeChat: 10,000 followers. This number is an important key factor for your future growth with more re-posts, shares, and an animated community engaging with your brand & business.
In order to attract potential clients, your need to enhance your online visibility and develop your network. The more you’ll satisfy your followers, the more chance you’ll have to reach their friends as they will probably talk about your brand, or post content mentioning your brand.
In China, word-of-mouth is the most powerful way to convince people to look at your products. WeChat is a key platform not only as a way to share information but also to engage with users in Q&A posts/live streaming, sending newsletters & ultimately providing incentives for followers to engage with your account.
Focus on good storytelling
In China, the most powerful way to engage in interaction with netizens is to provide quality content. You have to wonder what you can offer to them, how to reach their expectations, give insights as well as provide story-telling.
If you want brand loyalty, you need to convince them first to look at your content, then retain their attention in order for them to follow your account, and ultimately, share your account with their friends. As mentioned earlier, WeChat can be considered a 2.0 word-of-mouth that can reach millions of users.
Here are some tips to grow your Wechat followers base
- Stay focused on sharing content about the cosmetic industry and your brand of course
- Establish yourself as a native expert in cosmetics
- Provide unique insights/offers that are only available on your account
- Create and use HTML5 content to advertise and engage consumers
- Use WeChat as a way to interact with your followers. Be responsive and bring them into the conversation. You can also reward them for doing so.
- If you provide qualitative content, they’ll be more likely to share it on ‘Moments’ feeds’, and nothing is more powerful than P2P sharing amongst social groups.
WeChat’s H5 Brochures are among the best engaging content you’ll find on WeChat
H5 brochures are like mini-websites built into a mini-program, that allow brands to present their products and put information necessary for their followers.
H5 brochures are designed to be highly engaging, they are most of the time interactive, incorporating audio, music, video animations, or mobile shaking triggers. Using animations like sequential animations, animation groups, and time setup allows you to create and play with countless styles.
They can be used for a variety of marketing apps such as games, brochures, advertisements, etc. This is the reason why they are typically used to advertise a specific product or to promote sales and other special events. It can be useful to create an H5 brochure to present your cosmetic brand for example and to provide advice and tips to consumers that want to purchase your cosmetics.
Once you’ll have created an H5 page, you will be able to share the link and Quick Response (QR) code on WeChat groups, or on WeChat Moments. It can also be shared and viewed in any browser, but some functionalities may be limited. Remember, the main purpose of the Chinese H5 page is to be shared within W
Another useful functionality available on WeChat is its mini-programs. The platform’s mini-programs are third-party “apps” that are running on WeChat without requiring users to download them. They have increased to more than one million in 2018, used by brands such as Burberry, H&M, Dior, and Longchamp.
Moreover, SMEs and brands are increasingly connected with users via Mini Programs and WeChat Pay as the annual transaction volume generated from Mini Programs has more than doubled in recent years. Most of the brands use them to have their own WeChat stores where social media users can purchase items without leaving WeChat.
Advertising on WeChat
WeChat advertising is available only to brands that have WeChat subscription accounts or WeChat service accounts. When it comes to WeChat marketing, it’s better to start with other, less expensive tools like official accounts, brochures, and good storytelling, but Wechat ads are one of the greatest WeChat marketing tools for bigger brands that want to increase exposure.
WeChat banner advertising is the most typical way to grow your WeChat followers with a stable ROI. Thus, it is important to run a few test campaigns with different content to calculate the CPA.
Other two types of WeChat ads apart from banner ads are WeChat Moments ads and WeChat mini-programs ads.
Live Streaming on WeChat: a very promising feature for cosmetic brands
Over the years, China’s live streaming industry has grown exponentially, as Chinese internet users are fond of social interaction and entertaining formats that live streaming can provide. As a matter of fact, over the last five years, the number of daily video posts on WeChat has increased more than 33 times, while video content on WeChat Moments is up tenfold.
This explains why live-streaming has even become an important tool to attract Chinese online shoppers, with major social media and e-commerce platforms like Taobao, JD.com, WeChat, and Weibo paving the way.
WeChat’s live streaming functionality that is available for official accounts can be extremely rewarding and promising for the future of online retail. By doing live streaming, brands can attract easily and retain Chinese consumers.
Since its launch, many brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Bvlgari, and Burberry have already taken advantage of live streaming, redirecting clients directly to their WeChat Store or e-commerce shop. Therefore, just like other international cosmetic brands, you should take advantage of WeChat to promote your products via live streaming.
One of the best ways to engage with your audience is to collaborate with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) that are extremely popular online and can drastically increase your sales.
According to a survey on online shopping in China, the usage of live-streaming e-commerce grew by 6.3% during the COVID-19 outbreak. Then, we can also see that shopping via short videos and a linked Wechat mini-program increased by 2.6% in comparison to before the pandemic. The two major players who were able to benefit from this shift in consumption were Douyin and Kuaishou.
WeChat Channels are a fairly new feature on the WeChat app, that allows users and brands to post short videos in a mini sub-platform, similar to Douyin (the Chinese Tik Tok).
This new feature provides users with a platform to create and share their innovative short-video content, which is displayed in an infinite scroll feed that contains both friends’ posts and those from influencers or public accounts. Thanks to this dynamic experience, it’s now possible for any user – whether they follow them directly or not -to explore different creators’ work without having to leave the app.
WeChat Channels are also one of only a few features that allow brands to attract followers out of their follower base.
Case Study: Perfect Diary that mastered WeChat marketing
WeChat is the protagonist of Perfect Diary’s social media strategy. PD has used the app to nurture relationships with its audience through direct-to-consumer services. In fact, not fully trusting other distributors like Taobao or JD, the brand has decided to invest more money in the app.
The results: More engagement, consumer data acquisition, and higher margins.
WeChat Official Account & mini program
As you subscribe to Perfect Diary’s official account on WeChat, an article is automatically sent to you, which contains a little guide about features and promotions, then you’ll receive a link to its Mini Programs and a gift.
In the timetable, there are leads to promotions, cosmetic tips, online stores, coupons, and not only. So, at a first glance, Perfect Diary’s WeChat account seems to be a standard one, however, you can find an original tool just in the bottom right root menu.
Among the four sub-menus, in fact, you can see the labeled “撩小完子” (“flirting with Xiaowanzi”) menu. At this point, you tap “撩小完子” and a QR code pops up, by scanning it you can add Xiaowanzi as a friend on WeChat.
Contact us to kick-start your WeChat marketing strategy
The Chinese market is one of the most promising in the world in terms of opportunities, both for smaller cosmetic companies like startups, but also for larger international companies. But in order to succeed, you will need to adapt your marketing strategies to local demands and methods, such as using the most popular platform in China: WeChat.
To do so, you will need to do a lot of research beforehand and develop a strong marketing and communication strategy. However, expanding its activities in China is not an easy task, as 50% of brands fail because they don’t understand the Chinese market well enough. Working with specialists in the Chinese market is the key to success.
Designing the right digital marketing strategy is therefore key. Working with an agency that has both western and Chinese points of view like Gentlemen Marketing Agency can help you overcome the pitfalls of the Chinese market.
Our agency has developed the marketing strategy on Wechat for many companies. We have collaborated with many companies, helping them with their Wechat marketing strategies and our experts are here to help you develop yours in China.
Our services for Wechat:
- Wechat eCommerce
- Wechat SEO
- Mini/Micro-Site Development
- Ad Campaign Management
- Content Promotion Strategy (Organic)
- WeChat Content Creation & Formatting
- Reporting & Analytics
- HTML5 Content & Account Development
- WeChat CRM & Menu
If you want to get to know GMA, you can look at our case studies:
Of course, if you have questions or need more information about our services, do not hesitate to contact us so we can talk about your projects.