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How to Create the Best Wechat Marketing Strategy

In a world where the number of social networking apps is increasing day by day, businesses must focus their Marketing and advertising efforts to a few select apps that will maximise exposure to potential customers. Owing to the sheer size of the population, the Chinese market is certainly worth targeting. Although there are cultural factors that impose barriers to reaching out to the Chinese market, if a business can successfully do so, they will undoubtedly be rewarded in long run. In doing so, [bctt tweet="It is worthwhile considering the advantages of targeting the #WeChat platform over more conventional apps." via="no"] Wechat boasts of having over 650 million active users as of December 2015. Over 88% of these users are Chinese. In contrast, number of active users on Skype, Whatsapp, Viber and Line come in at just over 300 million, 800 million, 100 million and 560 million. This implies the following: • WeChat ranks in the top two most popular social networking-messaging applications, based solely on active users. • Considering Chinese users only, WeChat by far ranks as the single most popular application. • Considering non-Chinese users only, WeChat’s total active users will not be representative of its popularity in English speaking markets such as USA, Canada, Australia etc. Therefore,in creating a WeChat marketing strategy, the key question to ask is whether or not you are willing to engage the Chinese market from a long-term business standpoint. If this is indeed the case, then WeChat is an absolute must. Another reason to consider WeChat is that although it currently does not have the largest market share amongst non-Chinese users, this is likely to change in the future. WeChat has done tremendously well in offering features that outdo those of its rivals. It could be argued (although this is highly subjective), that WeChat offers greater usability than its current competition.
Wechat growth

Source: www.techinasia.com/

In the long run, WeChat has major advantages over its competition: • In China, it is more than just a mobile phone messaging application in the way that WhatsApp is to the United States. In China, it out-competes “China’s Facebook”, known as RenRen in terms of active users. This is significant, as it means that unlike WhatsApp in the United States, WeChat is the default social networking medium in China. • Unlike WhatsApp, WeChat is also China’s default messaging service on PCs and Tablets. It is also the default video chat app in the way that Skype is to users within the United States. This is important because PCs and Tablets offer greater visibility for adverts and bring in a larger click-through rate when compared to advertising on mobile messaging apps. • Like Whatsapp, if the user were to lose their phone or change their number, they would be able to transfer all their contacts and messages onto a new phone. WeChat shares all the important features of Whatsapp such as Group Chat, Text Chat, Voice Chat, Web Chat, sending photos and videos and sharing location. Thus, it combines the advantages of social networking offered by Facebook, the mobile phone usability of WhatsApp and video messaging popularity of Skype all in one single platform.

WeChat User Demography

When you organise your marketing or advertising strategy on WeChat, it is important to understand the average user and the demographics that can be targeted. WeChat in many ways is to China what Facebook was to the United States in the mid-2000s. That is to say that it is primarily used by the young and trendy population in major cities of China. This constitutes the main demographic of WeChat users. Thus, a distinction is necessary to made here. As a business, if your product or service caters to elder or middle aged native Chinese population, RenRen might be the better alternative. Only 15% of WeChat users are aged over 35, and of these, Chinese natives constitute an even lesser percentage. However, if you wish to target the native Chinese youth, advertising and marketing on WeChat will serve you very well. The female users of WeChat come in at just under 35% while male users at just over 65%.
Demographic to organise a wechat marketing strategy

Source: http://www.yivadigital.com

Understanding cultural differences between China and the west

To simply apply an advertising campaign created for a western consumer and to expect it to work for a Chinese consumer is a mistake. You must carefully consider the general differences in culture to attract the greatest numbers of potential customers. The following pointers are of particular importance: 1. Western countries and in particular capitalistic countries like the USA are very individual-oriented. This is to say that the business culture is largely based in catering to an individual consumer’s interests. Chinese people on the other hand are more community-oriented. Study after study has found this to be particularly true of Chinese youth, i.e. the largest demographic of WeChat users. A common theme among adverts for western audiences is that of explaining the benefit of the product to the consumer directly (e.g. “with our product you no longer have to….”, “because I’m worth it”). Chinese adverts lay much greater emphasis on “we” and “us” as opposed to “you” and “Ï”. This is especially important in social media marketing. After all, your consumers are using these apps to feel part of a community and to interact with or make friends. 2. Status is very important in China. Being treated like a VIP and being given a taste of high society are very attractive to the Chinese consumer. This is true of both Chinese men and women. When looking at western brands that have succeeded in China, a large number of them have been high-end clothing brands. There is an assumption of high quality attached to brands like Hugo Boss and Versace as is the case with any other part of the world. The buyers of these brands simply will not compromise by buying a cheap duplicate. 3. Nuances of the business environment in China: • China is by far the fastest growing economy in the world. Here, advertising sales have historically outpaced GDP growth by several percentage points per year. • Online advertising in China has high entry barriers owing to regulation: Unlike in free-information societies like the United States, online content is regulated in China. Although this is not as extreme as for TV or radio media, heavy regulation impedes foreign parties from entering China’s online content arena. • Scale and differentiation: Although the collective advertising space is flooded with existing brands fighting for the Chinese consumers divided attention, it is largely monopolised by a few brands. If your brand, product or service offers some form of differentiation which also caters to needs of the Chinese market, it may benefit greatly from advertising on WeChat.

Guidelines for organising a WeChat Marketing Strategy

For the most part, mass marketing strategies for the Chinese app do not differ greatly from WhatsApp or other platforms. However, there are some key differences to keep in mind when you organise your WeChat Marketing Strategy:Use QR codes: Companies advertising on Wechat in China use QR codes a lot more than Whatsapp users in the USA. This means that you should use QR codes in your campaign to allow users to find your product, service and social media pages. WeChat offers in-built functionality to quickly create a QR code. This allows users to effortlessly find you by simply scanning the QR code. Use this to your advantage. Harrods' Wechat Marketing StrategyFocus on creating a following: Having a large number of followers on social media means a lot more in China than in other parts of the world. The larger a following you have, the greater leverage your business has in convincing a potential buyer to purchase your product. Remember that the Chinese people are very community-oriented. The social proof offered by a large following is very important in this market. • Remember that WeChat is more than a messaging service: It is a social media platform similar to Facebook, Skype and WhatApp all combined into one. When a user follows you on WeChat, they are making a public statement effectively endorsing you to the rest of their friends. Ensure that your marketing campaign is warm and welcoming. • Focus on engagement first before sales: While this is true for most marketing and advertising, it is especially so when catering to the Chinese market. Remember that the Chinese people are frugal. You will not win them over by offering value for money alone, as your competition will be able to offer something very similar or even better. To sell to Chinese consumers you must first engage them before selling to them. You must first turn them into evangelists of your brand before you attempt to get them to make a purchase. There are a whole host of ways in which this can be done. For instance, you can offer free content such as webinars, ebooks etc or you could hold contests and special events. • Focus on luxury and exclusivity: Status is an important aspect to consider in addressing the Chinese consumer. Chinese people value status greatly. To them, luxury brands are very attractive. Offering exclusivity works on similar lines. You can offer entry to exclusive events, special privileges and limited time offers. • Focus on “viral” marketing: Ultimately, the strength of any messaging application from the point of view of marketing, lies in the fact that users can convey the benefits of your business or brand name to their friends in their inner circle. WeChat even allows users to find and message strangers. If your campaign encourages users to build a network of people endorsing your product, your advert or offer could go viral. • Don’t spam your followers: WeChat allows you to mass message followers. Although this is very useful to advertise updates, offers and new products, it is bad practise to spam your own followers. This will, in all likelihood, work against you leading to followers “un-following” you. Use the broadcast message functionality of WeChat sparingly. Thereafter, let your followers do your advertising for you! If your campaign is engaging enough, rest- assured it will be communicated to others.

Summary

If you are willing to engage the Chinese market and in particular the age group of 15-35, then focusing your advertising and marketing efforts on the platform WeChat is a worthwhile strategy. WeChat is the single most popular social media application in China and combines the benefits of Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype all in one. It is growing at a fast pace even outside of China. To fully benefit from advertising or marketing using WeChat, it is important to note some cultural differences between Chinese consumers and western consumers. The Chinese people are very frugal and community oriented. They value privilege, exclusivity and luxury. Focus less on price and more on selling high-end luxury products and services.  Place special emphasis on creating a following and engaging your potential buyers before selling to them. WeChat offers a wonderful opportunity for businesses willing to engage the Chinese market, but only if its marketing campaigns are tailored specifically to their target market.

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