Using WeChat for Small Business Marketing and Brand Loyalty
WeChat is probably the biggest super app in the world that you’ve never heard of. It’s the largest social network in China, and it’s quickly gaining even more momentum in Asian markets. This is not really surprising, since Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram are all banned in China, although South Korea’s KaKao Talk and Japan’s Line are Asian competitors.
Some non-Chinese businesses have made use of the mini programs available in WeChat to penetrate the Chinese market, and many more businesses are likely to follow, since a recent change in policy makes it unnecessary to have a Chinese business license in order to start an account. Here’s how WeChat can be used by marketers to accomplish their business goals.
There are several different types of advertising available on the platform. At the bottom of every article, there is room to have some kind of advertising placed, so it will be seen by the masses. This is one of the most commonly used advertising features, and one of the least expensive. WeChat ‘Moments’ ads are similar to the in-feed ads which businesses make extensive use of on Instagram and Facebook currently.
The platform also has a full-blown e-commerce app within its confines, and virtually everything under the sun is offered to buyers. There are actually many different online stores under the WeChat umbrella, and all these are the primary vehicles for obtaining sales within the app. Since WeChat does not permit any links outside the app itself to other platforms, all users are obliged to make use of e-commerce opportunities within the framework of the app.
Basically, mini programs are other apps within WeChat. Any brand can use these mini programs to offer special promotions, provide gaming opportunities, and even reproduce apps which are available outside the main app. Some Chinese brands provide apps which sell products and services to users without having to leave WeChat. One such example is Mobike, which has a mini program in WeChat that offers bikes for rent to users, without ever having to leave the main app. These are the kinds of mini programs which can be exploited by many different brands who wish to take advantage of the WeChat popularity in Asia.
On WeChat, influencer marketers are known as Key Opinion Leaders (KOL’s). Influencers on the app can provide a great deal of assistance in helping various brands penetrate new markets, or to delve more deeply into existing markets, by the sharing of posts which are sponsored. At present, there are no fixed rates for any arrangements made between brands and influencer marketers, which means it’s kind of a wide-open field for anyone who wants to get involved. Obviously, the most popular influencer marketers are paid much better than lesser figures, just as they are in this country.
Marketing Strategies for WeChat
Apart from using the banner ads at the bottoms of articles, or the Moments ads, there are a whole slew of approaches which can be used to connect with customers on WeChat. One of these is to provide QR codes which can be scanned by users for the purpose of joining groups, finding other users, and researching products. Some brands have made real works of art out of an image which includes a QR code that would direct users to their WeChat account. Since Asian users are just as visual as American users, these creative kinds of images are invariably the most clicked on, or the most scanned images.
Tell your brand’s story using a video campaign
Historically, video campaigns have been very successful on WeChat, partly because of the appeal of video, and partly because of the tremendous number of users which see those videos. Recently a skincare brand named SK–II initiated a campaign called “Meet Me Halfway”, which played on the pressure exerted on many single Chinese women to get married right away and start a family. The campaign itself centered on three such women, who each wrote letters to their parents asking them to be more understanding of the single person’s mindset. The campaign went viral, reaching 75 million views, and was one of the most talked about video initiatives on the platform for an entire year.
Increase loyalty to your brand with a mini program
To show how effective many programs can be at increasing brand loyalty, consider the case of Nike’s mini program created in 2015 as a companion to the Hong Kong Women’s 10K Race. The mini program itself was called Nike WeChat+, and it provided a number of services to participants in the race. Anyone who took advantage of the mini program had access to an eight-week training program, news updates, performance monitors, and unlockable rewards. Upon the conclusion of the race, each participant was presented by Nike with a surprise film which detailed their involvement in the race. Overall, the company experienced a 92% increase in Nike+ Run Club followers, and garnered a whopping 192,124,300 impressions.
Use We Chat influencers to connect with your target audience
One of the most effective ways of connecting with an audience in China is to make use of an influencer or Key Opinion Leader. Since influencers already have the trust of their specific followers, they are generally very much in tune with the likes and dislikes of all their fans, so they are well aware of how to approach them.
One impressive example of influencer success is the well-known campaign initiated by Mini Cooper, which engages the services of Chinese blogger Becky Li. Ms. Li at the time had upwards of 4.5 million followers, and was known to have a very powerful influence on all of them. After writing a sponsored WeChat article about Mini Coopers, more than 100 of the vehicles were sold in less than five minutes. Of course, not all influencer campaigns will be this successful, depending on who you choose as your influencer, but the potential is obvious and the results are often spectacular.