WeChat lets users lead their lives online. It also allows companies to get closer to customers than ever before. We discuss how to use the app well and grow your business in China.

WeChat was developed with the mission for connecting everything, and it’s pretty close to doing just that. But most significantly for Chinese eCommerce, it is slowly but surely producing a cashless economy in China.

Though known as WeChat outside China, its domestic product is known as WeiXin, and contains far more useful features. A hugely popular lifestyle app with 768 million daily users, WeChat allows people to pay bills, order takeout, shop online and interact on social media all in the same place. Its massive success makes it a crucial element of any social media strategy in China. For maximum impact, here are three secrets to success to make sure your chats with users develop into lasting relationships.

1. START RIGHT ON WECHAT

woman hand holding credit card and using laptop making online payment online, online shoppingThere are two different versions of WeChat for overseas and Chinese users. If you want to connect with Chinese users, you will need a domestic account. Although Chinese users can search for overseas accounts, they can’t follow them, which means your reach will be limited from the get-go. But getting a domestic account can be easier said than done. You will need an official business account. To get this, you need to prove you are a legal entity registered in China and supply WeChat with your business license and other relevant documents before you can begin.

It can be tempting to cut corners in this lengthy process. Some agencies offer to open accounts for overseas businesses, setting them up under the agency’s own address. However, this is not a good idea. Chinese users have been burned in the past by untrustworthy, low-quality domestic products. They often look to overseas brands for what they see as higher-quality products, making brand image an important marker of quality. While it may take longer, it’s worth going through the process of getting a domestic account rather than having your reputation potentially damaged before even getting started. Thankfully, there are some legitimate overseas WeChat partners who can help you open an official account the right way.

2. DEFINE YOURSELF

young man wearing t-shirt standing in front of skylineOnce you’re in, you need to make it count. Users follow accounts for two primary reasons: they’re either looking for content or solutions to their issues. First, you need to decide which type of account you want: a subscriptions account for content, or a services account for customer service. Choose wisely because this decision is irreversible – however, you can open up to 50 different accounts to suit the various divisions of your business.

Many businesses join WeChat without any real strategy. Without a vision, follower traction will fade. If you’re sharing content, then make sure it’s high-quality and posted regularly. If you’re promising excellent customer service, then make sure it’s fast, reliable and dependable. This will help make sure your followers stay engaged.

Once you start building out your account, make sure it’s presentable, detailed, relevant and most importantly, personalized so that it connects with your audience.

3. MAKE FRIENDS

WeChat is a personal form of social media, based on small group interactions, so communication with your target audience needs to be personalized and carefully tailored. Half of WeChat’s users use the app for over 90 minutes daily, split into micro-moments across the day (source: Webcertain). Capitalize on these micro-moments to make them think of you – for all the right reasons.

It’s best to not send just one generic message to all users, as this is seen as spam and deters users from returning to your page. Instead, look at WeChat as a customer management tool. By providing good customer service or interesting, relevant content, you can build a relationship with users. As you get to know them, you can then send tailored information and encourage them to share with their friends. For example, WeChat Wallet allows users to share your brand’s vouchers with friends, expanding brand awareness beyond your target audience.

Four male friends hanging outConsider fusing online and offline content to promote your brand. Add a QR code to your print material and website to draw people to your WeChat page, which can turn real fans into virtual ones. For example, many businesses offer free Wi-Fi to users who scan their QR code and follow the business’ account. Merging online and offline payment using QR codes is also possible through WeChat Pay and is another way to build your presence on WeChat.

WeChat advertising is another possibility, either appearing on users’ Moments page or at the bottom of articles. You can also send push notifications to users. WeChat Moments’ latest feature allows brands to include short videos – either in a 6- or 15-second format – as a teaser shown on a user’s timeline. Interested viewers can click on the video, which directs them to an internal ad page to view the full commercial (source: Jing Daily). In terms of audience insights, WeChat provides basic user information like gender and language and saves conversations between businesses and users. So, if a user tells you they want to send something to France, you can send them customized offers about France in the future. If your content is relevant, tailored and shared with the right people, users will come back to your page time after time.

FINAL THOUGHT

Ultimately, successful marketing on WeChat requires proper setup, a personalized and defined brand and strategy for building loyal relationships with users. Online to Offline (020) campaigns are taking off with great success. One of our clients, Uniqlo, makes a great case study, in which they managed to boost their WeChat followers from 400,000 to one million in six months.

Their marketing campaign was called Style Your Life, which fused physical stores and social media sharing. Users were encouraged to try on outfits in-store where they could take selfies in front of monitors projecting scenes from around the world, such as London and Tokyo. QR codes enabled the images to be automatically uploaded to WeChat where they could be shared with friends.

Making campaigns on WeChat personal, engaging and shareable has helped clients, such as Uniqlo, reach Chinese users in a memorable and effective way. Learn more about our WeChat service offerings and how we can help you achieve your Chinese marketing goals.