If you’re doing or planning to do business in China, you or your company probably have WeChat, or at least you will have heard of it. No WeChat, no business... that’s the consensus. But how much do you really know about the famous Chinese Social OS?
Not all WeChat features are created equal
Mobile payments, e-commerce, mini programs (your app within WeChat), targeted ads, content marketing, CRM, and customer service are all possible on the one-billion-user-app. All featured in one app is a marketer’s dream. And now foreign businesses can open their own WeChat official accounts.
But, hold your horses: not all WeChat features are created equal! Some may be more effective for your marketing goals than others. WeChat moment ads, for example, sound like an obvious choice at first glance. However, unlike Facebook, which is ideal for broadcasting and reaching large audiences, WeChat is a closed, private platform. You can only see your friends’ content and that of brands you follow. This means that newsfeed ads on WeChat are a very expensive, difficult to track “drops in the ocean” for brands not as well-known as the likes of Coca Cola.
The real value lies in CRM and customer service
Chinese brands concentrate on integrating WeChat deeper into their services and touchpoints. What most of us ‘non-WeChat-natives’ don’t realise, is that the platform is an ideal customer service and CRM tool. It enables direct contact with the customer as well as easy data capture, permitting brands to better connect with and understand their consumers.
WeChat Mini Programs are also very effective. With 80% functionality of a standalone app at 20% of the cost, many brands invest in WeChat mini programs. Retail brands in particular are taking advantage of an additional platform to offer coupons and drive sales online and offline. And, as a bonus, are capturing data in the process.
WeChat Pay enables business and innovation
Although WhatsApp and Facebook have huge potential for such brand accounts and payment systems, they are struggling to implement similar features. Are you chatting to official brand accounts on WhatsApp? Not yet. Can you transfer money within social apps? In China, everyone uses and accepts WeChat pay. Businesses and consumers alike can take advantage of free and instantaneous payments. Facebook pay, if implemented like WeChat, would have the potential to change the world. Yet, for various reasons, much of the world is still unbanked and most of us pay fees to transfer money.
If you wondered why China is innovating at the scale that it is, churning out unicorns and the like, it's partly down to WeChat playing its part.
View the latest in the series of YouTube videos (see above) from the Chinese creative agency Qumin and WeChat expert Matthew Brennan as they get to the bottom of what brands need to know about WeChat in the above episode of “China, WTF?!” (what’s the future). The entertaining and informative video podcast serves to bring us closer to China, or better, the Chinese consumers.
Louisa Loehrig, marketing executive at Qumin.