WeChat is probably the most unknown, famous social platform in the world if you are not from, or have visited China in the past couple of years.
I threw that oxymoron in there to highlight just how big WeChat is, but also how little people know about it. It is currently 3rd in world in the highest number of active users, not far behind from Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp).
Despite being in the top 3 in numbers, since it’s not a mainstream platform outside of China, it frequently gets left out of reports and discussions.
The interesting thing about working with the WeChat platform is that I get a lot digital marketers, even some of the most experienced and well known ones asking me some of the cool things WeChat can do.
With over 846 million users as of Q4 2016, (and all of that growth occurring in just 5 years), it’s easy to see why marketers and business professionals alike are curious about this platform.
Check out the incredible growth of WeChat from 2011 to 2016:
There is so much that can be talked about with the WeChat platform but I have chosen 3 things that I think you’ll find interesting.
Secret #1: Most companies are actually terrible at doing marketing on WeChat
It might be surprising to know that many businesses that are doing marketing on WeChat are actually doing a terrible job at it. I’m not talking about the functionality but the etiquette of its usage, but rather having an understanding of how WeChat users think and what appeals to them.
The headline, the content, the images and timing of the posting is essential.
Many companies are lacking these foundational pieces that are crucial to managing an effective official account on WeChat.
Here are 3 reasons why their account management is ineffective:
- The Headline
When you are competing against for people’s attention, an eye catching headline that compels people to click on your link is in many ways, more important than the actual content. If people aren’t clicking INTO your content to see it, no matter how good it is or how much time you spend making it awesome, a weak headline can really hurt its readership. This is where quality copywriting skills and experience really matters to avoid making your title too generic or sound like an academic article.
Nowadays people have different opinions on titles that are labeled as “click bait”. “Click bait” titles often have a huge promise that is usually unfounded within the article; or it could be something worded in way where it implies you will see information that “you wouldn’t believe!” or would “absolutely shock you!”. Natural human curiosity and impulsivity might get you some good clicks but you have to be able to balance a “click happy” title with content that actually has substance, otherwise it will become your best recipe to tanking your brand’s reputation and credibility.
- The Content
There’s no denying that original content is always the best way to go if your plan is to build a following and establish credibility and authority. Most business owners want to be able to share their insights and give value by providing their own content on their website or their social media platforms, but they also find it difficult to set aside time to write articles or they feel their writing skills are not up to par.
Hiring content writers and copywriters are not uncommon, and the key is to spend time to develop a relationship with a few who understand you and your business at a deeper level and have the ability to replicate your “voice”. If you are pumping out articles written by a lot of different people every week and the writing style varies from article to article, followers are generally quite savvy with these kinds of things and can pick up on the lack of authenticity. The other thing is the time it takes for you to educate your writers enough so they can pull off writing as you. Writers may be good at writing but it requires a certain level of knowledge of the industry that you are in to be able to order certain information.
Also, other than writing articles or blog, consider creating more videos. You can showcase your authenticity and deliver a genuine effort; and really at the end of the day, it’s one of the best ways to have people get to know you better and build that relationship over time as you continue to add more valuable content.
- The Consistency
Lack of consistency and sporadic content postings usually ends up being wasted efforts. Momentum is a huge driver of building a strong foundation of followers, and often what happens is when accounts don’t offer enough activity and engagement, lose interest as the account sits dormant or semi-dormant and becomes completely forgotten. Inconsistent postings also makes it hard to get good data for assessment; a big part of knowing what works and what doesn’t is to look at the key metrics of the official account.
About that posting schedule…
Although there are more ideal days and times to do postings in general, there isn’t a set magical day of the week or time of day that is more effective on WeChat, , much like the other platforms. What used to be the ideal may not be relevant today, and the same can be expected looking forward. Regular analysis of the data to figure out trends is still a method to stick to to figure out trends, which topics get more traction, open rate, number of readership, and to test out the most ideal posting days and times specifically for your audience.
For the sake of convenience, some businesses hire contractors and freelancers to have their content created. While this may seem like a good delegation idea, one thing to take note is that if the content is a representation of your brand, or yourself as an individual, then the “voice” of the content also has to be consistent when you are writing articles and blog.
Lack of consistent engagement with the audience, especially when there is no auto-reply setup when followers reach out is a red flag for them. It’s shows lack of care and dedication, and no one wants to follow any accounts that doesn’t offer any value.
Secret #2: WeChat marketing can be very effective for “offline” businesses as well
The great thing about WeChat marketing is that when it’s done right it can be very effective for offline businesses, so your business doesn’t have to be selling anything online, nor do you need to have an ecommerce store.
When used with the right strategy, the concept of O2O (online to offline; and offline to online) can be very powerful.
The existence of WeChat has revolutionized how we think of online versus offline. Instead of treating them as separate concepts, we can now considered it as a combined effort to form a new concept where the online and offline experience is intertwined with each other.
This allows for a longer and more frequent engagement with prospects and clients and easier access through the continual growth of mobile device usage.
A great successful example of this is the UNIQLO, the Japanese apparel company.
UNIQLO has been very transparent with their company mission which is to become the ultimate ambition of becoming the world’s largest apparel company by year 2020. Their strategy of first dominating the market in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan seems to be on the right track; they are now at over 400+ stores with their 1000 store goal.
It’s decision to center one of their marketing campaigns on the WeChat platform has been a very fruitful one. After launching the O2O campaign in 2015 it more than doubled its number of WeChat followers (which was at around 400,000 at the start of the campaign, to 1 million when the campaign ended)
The campaign was called “Style Your Life” which allowed consumers to try on clothes in the store, then stand in front of monitors equipped with cameras to take pictures of themselves with different featured backgrounds such as New York City, Tokyo or London.
The picture was then sent to their WeChat account where one third of people shared it on their Moments, which is like Facebook’s news feed where all your friends can see. So in addition of more than doubling the number of WeChat followers, Uniqlo had a 30% increase of sales for featured items
The “style your life” campaign was smartly designed to create an experience that cycles their customer’s experience from offline and continuing to extend the experience online once they have left the store; prospects who see the the campaign online then has the desire to visit the store in person to experience it first hand and the cycle continues
If you have an offline business, there are definitely ways to boost your brand’s following, and taking your followers from online to your offline goods and services.
Secret #3: WeChat is way ahead of any other social platform on the e-Commerce side (Facebook is still playing catchup!)
It may be confusing to some to learn that for the past few years, that the king of social media Facebook has had to come from behind to chase after some of the functions that WeChat has already been offering.
While Facebook has put their focus on monetizing targeted advertisements, WeChat was focusing on the e-commerce side of their platform with money transfers, fund investments, online shopping and cashless payment through the WeChat Wallet function within their app.
WeChat Wallet is practically a complete replacement of your actual wallet in China. Users can pay for their food at restaurants, shop for things online, pay for their taxi ride, send money to friends, and many more, all done within the WeChat platform. Even street vendors accept WeChat Wallet as the preferred method of payment.
Not only is the transaction in real time, but it has eliminated the problem of having to deal with counterfeit money. In addition, Chinese shoppers can buy goods from anywhere else in the world and the local currency will be converted into CNY based on the real-time rate. This “Cross Border Payment” includes many major currencies such as GBP, HKD, USD, CAD, JPY, etc.
Facebook has quietly rolled out “Payments in Messenger”, something similar to WeChat where users can buy things, send money to friends and buy tickets directly within the app. Currently this is doable if you live in the United States. You can attach a Visa or Mastercard, or a debit card issued by a US bank to your account.
If you have any insights or “secrets” about WeChat that you’d like to share, leave a comment below!
Author – Victoria Mui
Chief Marketing Strategist / B2B Sales Expert