Upping Your WeChat Game: 3 Things to Consider
By Andrea Gils
WeChat is the fifth most-used app globally, surpassing 1 billion active users, and funneling 45-billion daily messages and 410-million audio and video calls in 2018.
WeChat hasn’t been a game-changer in the social space just because of its messaging or calling capabilities. Since its inception, WeChat has allowed users to be selective with the content they consume, limiting spam emails and messages with irrelevant content that reach users’ screens.
Moreover, it has allowed brands to make offline-to-online connections, facilitating mobile payments for all sorts of applications beyond peer-to-peer transactions including food delivery, online shopping and other forms of e-commerce, which resulted in a $50 billion contribution to the Chinese economy in 2017.
WeChat Pay allows users to make purchases — making social an inherent part of Chinese e-commerce. This has impacted many brands and sectors, particularly finance and retail, because spaces are now leveraged as marketing and engagement channels, as opposed to being used as the sole point of purchase.
WeChat usage is strong and steady, having increased by nearly sixfold compared to three years ago. It has become a primary method of communication for the Chinese population in multiple spaces. The app’s usage is not just unique to the Gen Z or millennial generations but spans all ages. According to Tencent, 63 million users of ages 55 and older open their WeChat account at least once a month.
What is next for brands that want to up their WeChat game? Here are three things to consider:
If you are thinking of ways to engage your customers, then consider developing WeChat mini-programs, which are sub-applications within the WeChat ecosystem. Mini-programs are adaptable for different uses (e.g. gaming, pop-up stores, task management, etc.) and they are easy to use because they don’t require users to download or install an additional app.
Mini-programs are not just for brands and corporations. Influencers are already developing content mini-programs, which have allowed them to move away from pay-for-post and pushing notifications to their audiences to directly engaging their followers by creating content that includes links. This is important since subscription accounts, the type of account influencers have, don’t allow hyperlinks and therefore restrict influencers’ ability to provide a link for consumers to make purchases.
Traditionally, most international brands have developed social content and adapted it slightly for Chinese audiences. However, small modifications are no longer sufficient. According to Tencent, 41.1 percent of WeChat users follow official accounts to get information while 36.9 percent do so to complement their lifestyle, seeking content that is entertaining, informative and surprising. Leveraging quality-content seekers is what will allow brands to make the win they seek in this social space.
Mini-programs are an effective vehicle for real-time engagement and hosting events such as live streaming, which helps boost the quality of branded content and lets users engage with the rich content they crave beyond videos, articles and more.
For brands that have developed a large following, understanding their audiences more is crucial to unlocking brand affinity and improving the decline in engagement rates observed in this rapidly growing platform.
Unfortunately, WeChat advertising hasn’t proven to be the most effective vehicle to reach the right target audiences and drive sales. This presents a challenge for brands that rely on digital ads to drive conversions, which is why social CRMs are on the rise.
If brands can improve data collection and use automation to develop stronger one-to-one marketing campaigns that are specific to their users’ interest, then they will be able to develop more personal and authentic relationships with their customers in the long term — those same customers who heavily influence their peers’ behaviors and opinions.
With users being a tap away from unsubscribing to content, brands can leverage social CRMs to take their WeChat game to the next level.