As a social media, with the implementation of convenient functions such as WeChat payment and urban life services, the average monthly usage time per capital of WeChat has reached 1967 minutes. More and more enterprises and merchants are aiming at the huge business opportunities in this new media era.
With its convenient and flexible operation method, the WeChat official account has quickly been favored and valued by the majority of enterprises, becoming an important way for them to spread brand culture and market their brands. You want to communicate in China via WeChat for your business… There are some basic rules that every company should understand.
What is WeChat?
Launched in 2011, WeChat is a free social media application developed by the Chinese giant technology company Tencent. It is an instant messaging on mobile with multiple functions and remains a social network impossible to circumvent for the visibility on the Chinese web.
WeChat offers more traditional networking options like sharing videos and images, games, stickers and the ability to share and connect with friends via WeChat Moments
With more than 1.2 billion users, it is also a platform of social commerce integrating:
- WeChat Stores for online shopping.
- WeChat Pay and WeChat Wallet for payments to online suppliers.
- WeChat advertising ecosystem.
It even offers professional functions like tracking expenses. It can be used to book a taxi, a flight or a medical appointment. It is China’s most popular mobile app but it is important to know that 90% of users are in China.
And, to market on WeChat in mainland China, you must have a registered business presence in Mainland China. Companies based in the United States, South Africa, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand can use a WeChat business account to market on WeChat.
WeChat Business: A Guide For Western Brands
The WeChat features also vary by region. That said, WeChat has been pushing for international expansion, particularly in Africa. It is the platform of social communication more and more strong in Africa.
As the time of writing, there are an estimated 5 million users in South Africa (compare to 13 million South Africans using Facebook). So you should not overlook the marketing potential of WeChat in the rest of the world, even though the numbers are not as important as China.
How to use WeChat for developing your business in China?
Let’s start by examining the three types of WeChat business account:
- Subscription accounts
- Service accounts
- Business accounts (Enterprise account)
They all come under the category of official accounts, which are available to celebrities, media, government agencies and businesses. Subscription accounts offer more messaging, but service accounts offer more robust functionality.
3 types of wechat Business account
Corporate accounts are mainly intended for the management of the organization and are not of primary interest to the marketing specialists. They offer career and business services, but are only available in mainland China.
Subscription accounts: It allows a broadcast message per day to subscribers. The messages appear in the subscription account folder. It is used for marketing and advertising.
Service Accounts: It allows up to four messages per month. Messages appear in the Friends list. Audited accounts have access to nine advanced APIs (APIs) and can apply for WeChat Pay.
Mini-program: Mini Programs are a new open feature on WeChat, open to personal use as well as to government, organization and enterprise. Official parties can quickly develop a Mini Program. Mini programs can be easily acquired and disseminated in WeChat, without download, and can provide an excellent user experience. It can serve as a platform for WeChat online shops. JD, one of China’s largest e-commerce platform has already created its WeChat mini-program.
How to apply for an official WeChat account?
For companies that have a Chinese entity:
These steps apply to the international market platform of WeChat. Follow these Step
If you are a company in China, you can access the Chinese market using the China-Mainland hub.
1. Gather all required information, including your business license and personal identity (Chinese mobile number, Business account operator number, Email address).
2. Go to the official account registration page and submit your request. It takes two weeks for your account to be reviewed. While you are waiting, you can check the status of your application using the e-mail and application number of your application.
For foreign companies:
If you want to create a WeChat official account, you have to have a Chinese entity or get help from a Chinese companies. The permanent solution is registering your foreign enterprise in China in order to get a Chinese license. This way is a little expensive and will take 6 months.
Another way is to get assistance from local companies. WeChat allows every Chinese companies to create 50 official accounts on WeChat. So you can ask one Chinese company to create an official account for your enterprise, which will cost you 500 USD and it is a fast way to get your account.
How to configure your WeChat business account profile?
Once your account is approved, you will get access to:
1. The official account administration platform;
2. The console from which you can interact with WeChat users;
3. WeChat marketing campaigns;
4. Monitoring of results. To configure your profile, scroll to the bottom of the page to go to the Settings tab in the left menu.
On this screen you can choose:
- Your profile image;
- Create your QR code;
- Select your region;
- Add the description of your company (which WeChat calls an “introduction”).
You can change your profile image and introduction no more than five times per month.
How to use WeChat for marketing?
WeChat’s many functions give brands multiple ways to interact with customers.
1. Marketing located
Because official WeChat service accounts can detect the location of the user, they are perfectly suited to site-based marketing.
OrderIn, a food delivery service company in South Africa, uses WeChat to show customers a list of local restaurants based on their current location or address.
Customers can browse menus, place orders, and even pay for food, all in the WeChat application. Once the restaurant receives the order, the staff confirms by the WeChat application when the customer should expect delivery.
It is a seamless ordering experience that never forces customers to take the phone or withdraw their money or credit card.
2. Customized content management and content marketing
High-profile publications such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post and Vogue create official WeChat accounts for daily content distribution to WeChat subscribers.
But BuzzFeed, which is the most virulent of media, uses a WeChat feature in a unique way to allow readers to choose the content they receive.
BuzzFeed’s users automatically receive a daily content item, but they can also use the WeChat feature to access custom content based on a list of keywords that trigger responses.
Example of keywords for BuzzFeed
“Fail “,” win “and” cute “, making it a good fit for the BuzzFeed audience and a great way for users to discover shareable content that they can then pass on to friends through cats or WeChat moments.
3. Wechat Customer engagement
WeChat is a community-based social media, users are classified by groups, it is thus a powerful tool to engage your targets by their different interests. For example, in a Valentine’s Day campaign, Tiffany & Co. used WeChat’s messages to ask subscribers about the meaning of love by sharing their expression on “Love Is …”
The campaign has encouraged user engagement with the Tiffany brand while positioning Tiffany jewelry as an appropriate gift.
Users could use a tool in the official Tiffany & Co account to find the perfect engagement ring and use the store locator to see where they could buy it.
Even if WeChat users did not want to buy a product, they could share animated GIFs of the campaign, boosting the creation of Tiffany on their networks.
Coca-Cola’s game campaign on WeChat
Coca-Cola Hong Kong used mini-games in the WeChat interface to encourage customer engagement.
Users who answered questions and played games could receive offers for 7-Eleven stores. They participated in a draw to win a television.
4. Be creative with Wechat QR codes
WeChat automatically creates a QR code for each official account. The application also includes a QR code scanner, which allows brands to create QR codes inside and outside the application.
In Korea, the E-Mart chain store has created a three-dimensional sculpture of a QR code. Since lunch is a key moment for online shopping, it is at this point that the QR code appears. The digitization of the code allowed users to access the official E-Mart WeChat account, increasing followers and sales.
But perhaps the most exciting use of QR codes is performed by Stuff Magazine in South Africa. The products in the magazine correspond to the QR codes. Digitizing these codes using WeChat brings readers directly to their WeChat clients, where they can order the product with a few clicks and at a reduced price.
Now that you know more about WeChat marketing, it’s time to think about integrating this solid social chain into your overall social marketing strategy.
Discover our WeChat Agency
GMA (Gentlemen Marketing Agency) has been providing foreign companies who want to explore the Chinese market strategies since 2012. We are an expert in Chinese digital marketing thanks to our excellent team made up of marketing specialists from all around the world, including China.
We have worked with many big and small brands, and helped them to grow in this Chinese competitive market, where branding is everything. Chinese cusonmer will not buy your products if your brand is unknown in China.
If you want to utilise Wechat to promote your brand, but you are so confused about all those operations, you can trust us, we are patienate to hear about your project and assist you from the beginning until the end.