WeChat is one of the most innovative ways for businesses to communicate with their consumers. International brands Pepsi, Burberry and BMW are already using the social networking app to connect with fans in China.
The app, famous for instant messaging, voice calls, and stickers for every conversation, has revolutionised communication. In China, it’s now more common to ask for someone’s WeChat details instead of their phone number.
Brands now have a direct means of interacting with consumers. Brands can instantaneously distribute official information, alert fans of sales and promotions, send news updates and quickly respond to customer service enquiries.
Considering the opportunities WeChat holds for businesses, it’s essential for brands looking to begin or strengthen their relationship with consumers in China to understand WeChat and its 600 million users to communicate effectively with consumers.
1. WeChat members are avid users
WeChat users are switched on, with 55 per cent of WeChat users opening the app more than 10 times a day, according to Grata. Users spend a significant amount of time on WeChat with the average Chinese adult spending over 40 minutes on WeChat every day. The high frequency and length of engagement means makes WeChat useful for brands that want to alert fans of promotions, flash sales and other time-sensitive news.
The average WeChat user is a 26-year-old man. Men account for 64% of all WeChat users, however, this is partly affected by China’s overall gender imbalance. Most WeChat users are young adults with 86% of all users aged between 18 and 36.
Brands need to understand WeChat’s demographic and how their consumers fit into this to tailor their communication appropriately.
2. It’s not just about messaging
Although WeChat is most famous for its instant messaging services, it is no longer its most used function. WeChat’s voice chat function is the app’s most popular feature with 85 per cent of users reporting they had used the service, according to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).
WeChat offers two services that are changing brand-user interaction. About 22 per cent of WeChat users subscribe to product or service accounts, and an equal number shop on WeChat too. Considering the number of WeChat users, an official WeChat account for your brand and eCommerce function could expose your business to a considerable number of consumers in China. A WeChat presence allows fans to engage personally with your brand at any time or place.
3. Who do people follow
Of WeChat users who follow public accounts, 18 per cent follow brands and 14 per cent follow stores. To maximise the number of followers and improve fan engagement, brands should localise their content for Chinese consumers. Localising is much more than just translations of English web content; it requires an understanding of your Chinese consumer’s needs, habits, and values, and tailoring your content accordingly.
For example, many Australian winemakers focus their marketing efforts on the story of their label. However, in China, where counterfeit alcohol is common, wine drinkers value authenticity, assurances of quality and the geographic origin of wine.
Ensuring your written and visual content is attractive, engaging, and as a result, ‘shareable’, is vital to maximising the reach of your content. In fact, being ‘shareable’ could be more important than the number of subscribers, as 80 per cent of subscription account content views are from shares on friends’ WeChat moments, compared to 20 per cent from direct subscribers, found Tencent.
4. WeChat friends are diverse
Users have diverse WeChat friends. Although 90 per cent of users’ WeChat connections are friends in real life, many users are friends with classmates (81 per cent), family and relatives (76 per cent), colleagues (71 per cent), found CNNIC. In addition to this, 32 per cent of WeChat users are friends with people who they have not yet come in contact with in reality. The popularity of WeChat’s ‘Shake’ function (that connects you with other WeChat users who are simultaneously shaking their phone) and ‘People nearby’ function (that uses your mobile GPS connection to look for people close you) could contribute to this.
5. Why businesses need to join the WeChat trend
As Western social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked in China, brands need to connect with their audiences on platforms that are accessible and popular with Chinese consumers. An understanding of WeChat and its opportunities for businesses can propel your brand forward in the China market.