You may have heard that WeChat is a must-have mobile app in China. It’s used for everything from instant messages to news to mobile payments.
But, to give a firsthand look at how WeChat is used on a daily basis in China, I want to share with you a personal experience with the app.
I just spent the Chinese New Year in China. During this festival, Chinese people traditionally give a monetary gift called “red envelope” to each other.
WeChat launched a feature for electronic red envelope three years ago, and many Chinese people have shifted to this easy, seamless way to continue this tradition. I was able to quickly give red envelopes to my cousins and nephews who live in other cities via WeChat.
My red envelopes were just a handful compared to the 46 billion electronic red envelopes exchanged on the New Year, according to Tencent (WeChat’s parent company).
That represents an increase of 43.3 percent over last year. WeChat has become a must-have app during the Chinese New Year; it’s just one way WeChat is providing connections and simplifying life in China.
China Internet Watch data shows 53.3 percent of WeChat users use WeChat countless times per day and the vast majority (87 percent) of users open it more than ten times per day.
To understand more about WeChat, check out my previous post that provides an overview of the WeChat platform and other popular social media apps in China.
Today, I dig deeper into how WeChat, in particular, can be leveraged for your B2B marketing goals. The first suggestion would be creating a WeChat Official Account.
What Is a WeChat Official Account?
A WeChat Official Account is a formal channel for businesses and individuals to interact with customers and audiences through the platform.
Registration is free; as long as you have a WeChat account, you can quickly register an Official Account with your personal ID or business license.
Through the WeChat Official Account Admin platform, a company can deliver updates to raise brand awareness and promote products and services.
After a WeChat user subscribes to your Official Account, you can interact with the subscriber in several ways: sharing content, communicating via text/voice, and even setting up various features/services via API.
3 Types of WeChat Official Accounts
There are three types of WeChat Official Accounts: subscription accounts, service accounts, and enterprise accounts. Let’s look at what makes each one different:
A subscription account is like a daily news feed. These accounts can post one update per day to subscribers. The update can be a single post or multiple posts bundled together; it depends on your content production capabilities and marketing needs.
Although a subscription account provides more frequent interaction opportunities with your followers, your profile is in a subscription account subfolder and your followers will not receive any specific push notifications when you post content.
As the above screenshot shows, your profile is competing with all the other official accounts, and your audience will have to truly look for your information.
This type of account is most appropriate for a publications or blogs.
As the name indicates, a service account is mainly used for businesses and services. It’s limited in some ways; WeChat only allows four updates per month with this type of account. However, your profile will be shown in the WeChat conversation timeline and a subscriber will receive an alert when an update is posted.
With a less frequency, you may avoid annoying followers with lots of updates and you’ll have more time to produce better content.
Also, there are many WeChat features (like CRM, custom menus, payment integration, and mini websites) that are only available to service accounts.
For a B2B company or a corporate brand, a service account is a good choice.
Enterprise accounts are primarily designed to serve as an internal communication tool for organizations. The messages and management of these accounts are more secure. We won’t talk much about it here since it is rarely used for marketing.
Challenges B2B Marketers Face with WeChat
While there are enormous opportunities associated with WeChat, there are also some challenges in using it as an effective marketing tool.
Take a look at the following data:
- Crowded field: In 2016, the number of WeChat Official Accounts exceeded 12 million, and it will increase to 14.15 million in 2017 (from iiMedia Research).
- Leveraging for promotion: 75 percent of companies are using WeChat for promotion (from CNNIC).
- High competition: 7 million articles are published every day (from iiMedia Research).
- Limited user attention: 60 percent of Official Accounts keep updating content, but only 10 percent of Official Accounts are continually catching users’ attention (from iiMedia Research).
- Content quality: 65.2 percent Internet users unsubscribe to WeChat Official Accounts because of poor content, and 57.9 percent of Internet users unsubscribe because they aren’t frequently updated (from iiMedia Research).
What do these statistics tell us? Marketers need to break through the noise, differentiate from their competition, post quality content, and target their audience.
Let’s take a look at some specific actions B2B marketers can take to overcome these challenges.
Best Practices for WeChat Official Accounts
The study from CNNIC found the five important ways of searching for a WeChat official account: keyword, QR code scanning, friend recommendation, friend circle sharing, and Weibo enterprise account. B2B businesses need to make sure they can be found in all five ways.
Choose Your Official Account Name Wisely
When users search for an Official Account, they’ll put the keywords in the search box. However, to meet their needs and interests, your official name cannot be too broad for them to choose, or too narrow/exact for them to even find.
So, how to name your WeChat official account is a tactical decision, and it needs to be carefully determined with SEO in mind.
Be Connected Everywhere
In China, people like to scan QR codes to receive information or connect with people or organizations. Businesses should include their QR code across promotional materials: websites, catalogs, trade show materials, or even on business cards.
Create a Thorough Content Strategy
Content marketing is a crucial component to WeChat social marketing. You need to conduct thorough research on your target audience and generate a comprehensive content strategy before rushing to launch your Official Account.
There are a few things to keep in mind:
- Make sure your content is relevant to your audience and fits their interests.
- Make your content visually appealing, interactive, and engaging – people won’t spend time on any boring content.
- Make it original. WeChat encourages and supports original content from Official Accounts; those that simply copy posts of others without including original content will get less exposure compared to an account publishing original content.
- Make the content sharable! Just 20 percent of WeChat users read news or messages through Official Accounts directly; 80 percent are exposed to them in Friend Circle Moments. When content is interesting enough for people to share, your Official Account could gain more exposure and followers.
Another tip for WeChat Marketing is leveraging trending topics for your content, i.e. holidays, hot topics, news, etc. However, don’t jump on every trend or occasion. Always consider your audience’s needs and feed their interests. Creating relevant content that resonates with the target audience is always a good idea.
Keep Updating and Catch the Best Time
As we mentioned before, users will unsubscribe from an Official Account that isn’t frequently updated. Posting consistently is a critical part of a WeChat Official Account strategy.
In addition, companies also need to be strategic about when they post. Research shows that 80 percent of Official Accounts publish posts on working days with 36 percent publish on Wednesday and Friday. Time of day is a key consideration. Studies show the peak time for reading via WeChat is 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
As you might imagine, many official accounts have already occupied these slots to publish. To avoid noise and competition, we suggest capturing the audience at another peak reading time between 8 and 11 p.m. when there is less competition. Of course, businesses should also experiment with posting times to find out the best time for your audience.
WeChat continues to prove its value to users, both as a personal tool and a marketing platform. B2B businesses need to do more than simply have a presence on the social platform; marketers need to learn how to best leverage its incredible audience and reach.
There is great opportunity there, but finding and nurturing a target audience takes time, effort, and a content strategy.
Are your business looking to establish a presence on WeChat, or expand into the China market? Let us know if we can help.