In China, WeChat is a phenomenon. During the Lunar New Year in 2018, WeChat hit the milestone of 1 billion monthly active users – in a country of 1.4 billion people.
WeChat, known as Weixin in China, is the country’s dominant messaging app, while it also serves as an all-in-one platform for social networking, mobile payments, ride hailing, food delivery and much more.
For many companies in China, or with an interest in China, WeChat has become an efficient branding and marketing tool, enabling direct and frequent communication with clients and reaching out to a broader group of potential customers and other stakeholders. In late 2017, corporations held 17 million official accounts in China.
“Helping our customers to set up, plan and handle WeChat accounts and other applications within the WeChat ecosystem has been one of our fastest growing business areas over the past couple of years,” says Jan Hökerberg, managing director and part-owner of the branding, marketing and communications agency Bamboo, which has offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
“You can promote your brand on WeChat in many different ways,” says Johan Olausson, Bamboo’s sales and marketing director, who in the past autumn and winter held three fully-booked workshops for SwedCham members in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing.
His experience from these seminars is that many Nordic companies in China are already using WeChat, but they are not using it to its full potential to expand numbers of followers and target the right followers, among other issues.
“Several companies that attended the seminars had set up WeChat but found it difficult to generate good content. Others were very familiar with WeChat but wanted to refine the way they work by adding mini programs, or target specific user groups for instance,” Olausson says.
In order to make it easier for companies to navigate the Chinese WeChat and social- media world in general, Bamboo has put together a simple checklist of what to do and not to do:
… dare to be innovative and use interactive WeChat technology such as mini programs, chat bots, quizzes, etc;
… publish only content that you think is engaging, can drive traffic and generate leads;
… not be afraid to publish longer content – it normally works well in China;
… link your WeChat activity to offline activities such as events;
… plan ahead with at least a monthly schedule of what you plan to publish.
… underestimate the amount of time and resources needed to maintain a quality presence on WeChat and other social media;
… go for quantity when it comes to followers – look at the quality of the followers;
… just copy your social media from Facebook and LinkedIn in Europe, where posts are often just a couple of generic sentences and a link;
… overestimate your capacity to create and publish quality content;
… rely on staff who have a lot of meetings, travel, and so on, for approvals.
Key facts about WeChat
1.08 billion monthly active WeChat users (Q3 2018).
17 million active official accounts for companies as of late 2017.
1 million WeChat mini programs are used by 600 million people.
170 million WeChat mini program users per day.