If you ask anyone who has spent some time in China what defines daily life here, you can be sure their answer involves WeChat. The most powerful social network and messaging platform in China, WeChat has gained a stronghold in the Chinese marketing system with its fast-developing new technologies such as its mini-programs, WeChat store, vouchers, membership cards, 红包hong bao shops and more. Any brand or company wanting to engage with their customers and consumers needs to have a strategy that utilizes WeChat and makes full use of its increasingly sophisticated functions.
However, if you’re not China-based and not using WeChat daily, this expanding universe within the WeChat ecosystem can be hard to keep up with – and even harder still if you cannot read and write Chinese.
WeChat Marketing has flourished into an industry in its own right with a growing pool of experts on-hand to advise on a successful strategy and execution. WeChat Marketing differs greatly from traditional marketing avenues due to the level and nature of the consumer-user and the speed of transactions and click-throughs. The level of competition for marketing campaigns on WeChat is also unparalleled, requiring companies to remain 10 steps ahead to stay relevant.
Today we speak with some of 2018’s leading WeChat marketing experts who share their invaluable experience on how to leverage the power of WeChat this year to build your Chinese brand presence and increase your audience engagement.
Tip #1: Don’t push out content just for the sake of trying to remain active
Olivia Plotnick, Marketing Manager of Brandigo, a branding agency specializing in B2B Marketing in China, says: “WeChat has seen incredible growth, and people can’t stop talking about it. However, most marketers, especially in the West are still under the impression that WeChat is going to drive brand awareness, or even conversions, and this is just not the case. As the number of Official Accounts has skyrocketed and the number of users has plateaued, read rates are going down, people are less willing to follow accounts, so the strategy and the metrics people were previously using are not as relevant. My advice for brands looking to run a successful WeChat account is first to try and provide a service, whether this is through publishing a valuable report once per month, or connecting the account to a useful mini program – don’t be pushing out content just for the sake of trying to remain active.”
“Second would be to look into marketing automation for WeChat – as Joseph Leveque from 31Ten pointed out, this is so under-utilised by brands right now, even though it can be incredibly valuable. Chatbots, CRM, and automation software can significantly increase your ROI and it is something that brands will have to implement in order to stay on top of the game.”
Tip #2 Learn How To Optimize WeChat SEO
It has been a year since WeChat launched its new “Search” feature, giving Baidu (the prevalent search engine used in China) a real run for its money. Baidu has until now enjoyed a virtual monopoly of China’s multi-billion search market, boasting an almost 80% market share in 2017. However, WeChat’s search feature platform may mean that users have no need to go outside the app at all: the tide is turning. “In the near future, WeChat will continue to focus on Mini Program with special focus on games with purpose to have a higher retention of their users. Moreover, the particularity of WeChat Mini Program is not only about what people are doing now and what you can see but also about your imagination. To be able to perform on WeChat you need to be different and find new ways or ideas to promote your services“ says Quentin Pignard, Co-Founder and COO of QP software, a digital agency specializing in web development and e-commerce.
Jason Blondeau, Director of Marketing at QP Software, agrees. “WeChat is going to improve its Search Feature to be able to compete in the future with the other Search Engine we all know. Once it will be optimized, they will establish the rank rules (as they are doing now) and in the end it will be become a very good opportunity for the company to expand their visibility on WeChat.”
Tip #3 Make The Best Use of Your Official Account
WeChat is increasingly difficult as a broadcast channel, and it will only get noisier: in 2017 50% of accounts were stagnating at best or losing followers. It is not enough simply to have an Official Account that churns out general articles. As Joseph Leveque notes, WeChat is increasingly difficult as a broadcast channel and it will only get noisier as more and more companies enter the WeChat ecosystem.
In 2017, 50% of Official Accounts were stagnating at best or losing followers. Mr Leveque cautions that not having a targeted content broadcasting strategy. Simply sending the same content to your entire audience of followers can quickly create a disengaged follower base.
One of the top mistakes companies make with their WeChat accounts is trying to do too much with a single Official Account. Serving prospects, customers, and HR management all from a single account might be inefficient. It may be best to breakdown the WeChat presence.
For example, have a dedicated account or members or a loyalty program (e.g. Ikea Family) and a dedicated account for HR application and management purposes. While at first this may seem admin-heavy, it will be far more efficient and effective in the long-run.
Indeed, WeChat as a marketing medium in its own right is quickly developing into an incredibly powerful vehicle and mode of engaging and connecting your brand with consumers and followers. By partnering with the right advisors, your company can gain the strategic positioning it needs to be successful in the ever-competitive online Chinese consumer space. Interested in learning more? Contact us at HI-COM to have a chat!