WeChat: The Complete Guide for your marketing campaign in China

Gina Gulberti

Many brands are starting to realize the wide scope of opportunities within Chinese Social Media Marketing. It’s time to start learning and discovering the right terminology and the potential of each social platform - an important one that you may have heard of is WeChat. With a wide range of private users, as well as brands and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs), the app has an incredibly wide reach. On WeChat new features, like the WeChat Channel, are always being developed, making it a great platform for branding and marketing strategies!

What is WeChat?

With the initial release celebrating 10 years this year, this app has skyrocketed since its introduction to the world of online messaging and now hosts users all over the world. It is also known for being a globally well-known stand-alone app which’s features reign high and wide, especially in the Chinese market. The application is essentially a communications platform that includes a great multitude of features that users can visit for many different services and content pieces. WeChat itself would describe the app as a lifestyle that goes beyond social media and messaging. In short, WeChat pretty much has it all, not to mention the more than 1 billion regular monthly users who make it clear that the platform truly has something for everyone.

How does it work?

The Features

WeChat can be used for messaging and calls, sharing photos and videos on the ‘Moments’ feature, reading news, playing games, making mobile payments through ‘WeChat Pay’, and for services and in-app e-commerce there are ‘Mini Programs’ and ‘Official Accounts’, as well as many other features like the recent 'WeChat Channel'. The app users are loyal as they can find pretty much anything they need on one single platform.

Image of WeChat Pay. Source: WALKTHECHAT

WeChat's features are constantly evolving, the mentioned ‘Mini Programs’ have been especially popular for e-commerce opportunities on the platform, especially among KOLs who have utilized it in creating boutiques for either resale or their own brands. Previously they would have struggled, not being able to link directly to online retailers or other websites, but now their customers can click straight through to products.

Image of WeChat Mini Program. Source: Parklu

One of the latest additions to the app is the WeChat Channels - a short-video platform where content can be seen from more users than just those on your contact list. Here you’ll find the biggest profiles and KOLs on WeChat and the chance to explore many different media accounts and their video-based content.

The Content

The main Social Media content which you will find on the WeChat site tends to be text-based, however, on the new Channels feature you will see a lot more moving or image-based content like videos. This side of WeChat also allows the platform to keep up with the demand and competition with other similar apps such as Douyin, RED, Bilibili, and so on. In general, the aim of this additional asset is to generate short and easily consumed content that users can access quickly.

One example of the marketing use of WeChat for high-end designer brands is when Dior famously made their first official appearance on the platform - as the first major (Western) fashion brand on WeChat.

Another one is the 2017 campaign with the collaboration between luxury brand Tod’s and KOL Mr. Bags. The Key Opinion Leader shared short-video pieces of the handbags, as well as text posts of his opinions and experiences with his thousands of followers. 

Mr. Bags' WeChat post promoting his Tod's collaboration

Who uses WeChat?

The User

WeChat profiles can be used by private individuals, but there is also support for business and official accounts. The access to different features and the ability to share certain content can vary between the different profiles. However, in terms of Channels, only one can be active for each user account. I.e. you cannot connect several profiles to one account.

Most private individuals will be able to use the app to communicate and share content with those on their contact list and share other content through the Memories feature. The new introduction of the WeChat Channel, however, will allow the users to create short WeChat videos (under one minute), discover more on WeChat Channel, as well as like, comment, and follow on across the WeChat platform.

Brands and Businesses

As mentioned, the Mini Programs feature on WeChat has seen increased popularity in recent times, especially amongst KOLs who have started implementing the tool to create their own online shops and brands. With many major luxury brands already established in the Chinese market, discover how they rank compared to US and European regions in our Top 20 Power Players analysis.

With the newer features, including Channels, the platform is growing with potential. But platforms such as RED and Douyin remain steadily popular amongst brands when it comes to collaborating with KOLs and KOCs, see the graph below showing the Influencer Voice for Louis Vuitton in China.

wechat new features
Graph displaying Insights stats for Louis Vuitton's Influencer Voice

It should be noted that WeChat certainly is rising to the occasion to compete, with the platform leveraging every opportunity to expand, both with what can be accessed on the various features, but also on the growing Channels aspect which is expected to generate increased competition between the already well-established video platforms. 

As seen in the graph below, we see that Max Mara’s presence on WeChat has added great Media Impact Value™ for their brand. This application has received not only the most placements but also the highest value. Luxury-fashion marketing in China is an area worth exploring as the large-scale opportunities that follow bring great promise to any major brand.

Graph displaying Insights stats for Max Mara's Influencer Voice

With the right strategy, collaborations, and carefully utilized WeChat features, there are bountiful opportunities for successful marketing campaigns in China. Discover the trends, explore the app, and ensure your understanding of the nature of the platform and soon enough WeChat will be your brand’s best ally!

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