WeChat for Brands

WeChat LogoMessaging applications have continued to grow and expand their influence over our day to day lives. If you’re a global brand with a focus on China, chances are you’re using WeChat to reach your consumers. For the rest of you, here’s an overview of the platform and the opportunities available for brands.

What is WeChat?

WeChat is often referred to as the WhatsApp or Twitter of China. The platform allows private messaging between friends, but users may also subscribe to brand channel feeds (called Official Accounts). The application is often praised for it’s depth and has successfully activated brands on the network by allowing them to tap into their API for customer service functions, in-app payment to stores and retailers, and other interesting functions like booking an appointment, entering a contest and more. WeChat’s revenue model is mostly built on their in-app games and stickers.

WeChat Dominates Social Media Messaging in China

WeChat Usage

WeChat is one of the largest social messaging platforms with 1.1 billion registered users across 80 countries. They’ve quickly become the most prominent messaging platform in China and Hong Kong, but also have claimed 100M user accounts outside of China. eMarketer reports that
84% of Chinese smartphone users utilize the platform
. Their most recent earnings report claims 600M MAU (Monthly Active Users). While their MAU numbers fall just below that of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, Global Web Index reports that among Internet Users 16-24 years old, they rank #1.

WeChat_Popularity Among Teens Makes it Number One from Global Web Index

3 Things Brands Should Know About WeChat

  1. WeChat is often compared to WhatsApp and/or Facebook Messenger, but the platform is much more expansive in it’s technical capabilities. Where WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are just dabbling in the customized capabilities for brands, Official Account pages serve as a fully optimized digital platform for brands. Brand can build customized experiences within the Official Accounts and enable users to engage with more than just static content. For instance, Pepsi used the app for a “Bring Happiness Home” campaign that allowed WeChat users to customize a Pepsi theme song with a personal message and provided sound effects, that they could then share with their family and friends.  Starbucks shared downloadable songs with users who messaged an emoticon to them. Here’s a great list of some other creative campaigns held on WeChat.
  2. Even though WeChat claims to have 100M users outside of China, most user and brand profiles are still updated or posted to with Chinese or Mandarin characters. There is a translate function that allows users to see all content in their native language, however, if you are hoping to break into this network with an English-only content strategy, it may be a difficult path to success.
  3. Tencent (the holding company for WeChat, Weixin and others) had big plans for expanding WeChat’s presence in overseas markets. However, they publicly abandoned that strategy last year and have instead invested in the Canadian-based messaging platform Kik. If you’re a brand with no interest in WeChat due the regional focus, but crave the available functions that WeChat provides, it’s possible we may begin to see those types of things available within Kik as the platform if the two begin sharing resources or learnings.

If you’re curious about this network, but prefer to read in posts in English, Buzzfeed publishes content to it regularly.

Are you using this network for your brand? Or have you seen other clever brand uses on the platform? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Ignite Social Media