WeChat 101: Talking to CCBC about China’s social media giant
Monday, November 19, 2018
WeChat has officially exceeded 1 billion monthly users, making it China’s king of social media platforms. Many would say China runs on WeChat.
Originally its functionality was more limited for users outside of China. Now, WeChat is fully available for Canadians to leverage. That comes with big benefits and big opportunity. Business owners, sales professionals, and exporters interested in China are jumping on the WeChat train and signing up to access this comprehensive platform that goes beyond just social media. WeChat is used for everything from online shopping, booking flights and hotels, scanning the news, to communicating with friends and colleagues. If you want to do business, or do just about anything in China, put WeChat in your business toolkit and on your smartphone.
We spoke with our partners at the Canada-China Business Council (CCBC) to talk about all things WeChat, and to better understand how companies can best use China’s dominating social media network.
Q: First off, who should be using WeChat?
A: If you’re doing business in China, or interested in doing business there in the future, you need to be on WeChat. This is the communications tool people in China are using constantly. If you can’t reach someone through an email, you’ll often get a much quicker response through a WeChat message. It’s a key tool to have if you’re doing business with Chinese partners. Anyone can register for a personal WeChat account and use it for messaging and networking. Businesses can register for WeChat official accounts, which function a bit like a webpage. It’s highly customizable with added features. That being said, not all companies need a WeChat official account. In fact, in the early days of doing business in China, it’s unlikely that companies will be ready to commit the resources needed to manage a company page.
If you’re doing business in China, or interested in doing business there in the future, you need to be on WeChat.
Q: What’s the difference between a personal account and an official account?
A: A WeChat official account is essentially a business page for your organization. It allows you to upload promotional content, create ads and sponsored posts, and push your business content through WeChat. However, WeChat is a closed system, meaning you need to get others to follow your page to see your posts, and someone needs to scan a QR code or connect with your page to view your content. The thing to remember about a WeChat official account is it needs to be part of a bigger strategy for marketing in China.
The thing to remember about a WeChat official account is it needs to be part of a bigger strategy for marketing in China.
Q: What are some best practices for setting up a WeChat official page?
A: The key to having a good WeChat official page is the quality of your content, just like any other website or social media page. If you want to see a good return on WeChat, you need to invest the time and resources and treat it like you would a website or a blog - populate it with content frequently, consider what your audience cares about, and, translation is of course essential. Depending on your level of commitment, you may want to hire someone on staff who speaks Mandarin to help you with this or hire an outside agency. Again, many SMEs won’t see the need for this level of commitment when they’re just exploring or new to the China market. But for the more advanced companies who are serious about China, consider making WeChat part of a comprehensive China marketing strategy. WeChat should just be one component of that, but you’ll need to be ready to invest time and effort into managing the platform.
The key to having a good WeChat official page is the quality of your content.
Q: Are there any social media channels in China more similar to the social platforms used in Canada?
A: Weibo is also a very popular and widely-used social platform in China. Think of it like Twitter. While it's functionality is different and capabilities are different than WeChat, it’s still a very useful tool companies can leverage to promote their business and engage an audience.
Weibo is also a very popular and widely-used social platform in China.
Q: Any final tips for WeChat?
A: Simply put, if you’re doing business in China, you need to be on WeChat. Mobile use is completely integrated into urban China’s daily life, and WeChat is at the front of how people communicate. Anyone can sign up and create a personal account and use it to connect with their Chinese contacts, customers, partners and use it to help build out their network. If you’re serious about investing marketing resources in China and want a WeChat official page to promote your business, make sure you understand how it works as part of your total China market strategy. You’ll need to treat it like a web page that needs to be managed and maintained, not to mention translated. It’s a powerful and exciting tool that is continuing to grow, and no doubt companies will continue to find new ways of leveraging it to market themselves in China.