Foreign businesses who are interested in breaking into the Chinese market would be forgiven for wondering why WeChat is successful in China. After all, it’s just another messaging app, right? Wrong. Not only is WeChat China’s largest and most dominant social network by far, but it’s so crucial to reaching potential clients here that it may also be considered an essential part of China company setup too! In this article, we can discuss why is WeChat popular in China?
What is WeChat?
WeChat is a major player in the social space, so in that sense, it is a bit like Facebook. This brings it into direct competition with Weibo in China. It contains instant messaging, so it is like WhatsApp. It has an app store, so it has similarities to Apple and Google.
Why WeChat is Successful Compared to Other Messaging Platforms
WeChat offers a wide range of useful functions, all within the one app:
- Video calls
- Moments (like micro-blogging)
- Interest groups
- Online payments
- Official company accounts
- Advertising options
Now it’s possible to use WeChat to send a friend a voice message while at the same time paying for your groceries.
Compare this to Facebook, the world’s largest social network, and you can see why WeChat, despite being Chinese in origin, has become so popular. Simply put, WeChat is a multi-purpose platform that offers both companies and users real convenience by being able to perform a plethora of everyday activities without needing to switch between apps.
Why is WeChat popular in China?
Larger User Base
While Tencent, WeChat’s creator, may not be globally famous, Shenzhen’s tech giant was already a huge player in the Chinese social space with its still-popular network QQ.
Any visitor to China before 2011 would be well familiar with QQ’s high-pitched cheeping as messages were coming in, and so Tencent leveraged their large user base of hundreds of millions of QQ users to migrate them across to WeChat, as all that was needed to sign up was, you guessed it, a QQ account. Unlike other Western apps, the local users’ existing relationship with Tencent made it easier for WeChat to steal a march on its competitors in China as it was easy to get started.
Foreign Sites Has Been Blocked
Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube, and many more foreign sites have been blocked in China since before 2010.
WhatsApp, Kik, and Line were also spearheading mobile communication apps, with Facebook Messenger coming a little later.
But the censorship of certain foreign sites and apps did WeChat a favor, when you consider that this meant that some of WeChat’s potential competitors such as Facebook Messenger were (and are still) simply not even on Chinese users’ radars at all, due to not being available, this left the field open to WeChat to hoover up the many users who are thirsty for mobile communication apps.
WeChat, unlike many of its competitors, can be linked to your bank accounts and credit cards. Using a QR code system, users are able to pay for goods and services just by bringing up their ‘wallet’s’ QR code on their screen, which is then scanned by the store to take payment from the related account.
It is also fascinating that users are able to transfer funds, for free usually, between each other, which are handy when splitting a bill for instance. This has revolutionized payments in China, which are around 5 years ahead of the West in this where contactless payments and new services such as ‘Apple Pay’ are only just becoming widespread in 2016. WeChat has been doing this for years!
Users may now use WeChat to:
- Pay for shopping
- Buy items directly from online stores
- Purchase train tickets
- Pay for doctor appointments
- Pay rent and utility bills
With a healthy bank balance and a smartphone equipped with WeChat, there is almost no reason to carry cash in China any longer, and paying through WeChat usually attracts no additional fee too!
Unlike, say, Facebook, where business users are almost completely forced to pay to promote their pages or content in order for them to be seen by followers, WeChat allows businesses to open an official account and gain a following on the platform for free.
Beginner to Professional: Learn How to Use WeChat
Download WeChat App
First of all, you should get the WeChat app downloaded and installed on your smartphone or computer. Now, you can head to its official website or the app store to download the WeChat.
Sign Up WeChat
Once you download the app, you need to launch it. To create a WeChat Account, just tap on the “Sign Up” button to register the program via phone number. Now, just choose the region you live in and enter your phone number. After that, you need to verify the account with a four-digit verification code you get.
On the Setup Profile screen, you can add your name and profile photo. Then you can find friends on WeChat from your contact lists.
To add your friends and get started with WeChat, you should go to “Contacts > New Friends > Add Contacts (top right corner)”. Now you can enter your friend’s WeChat ID/phone number, or use the Friend Radar, Join Private Group, Scan QR Code, Mobile Contact, and Official Accounts to add more friends or services.
If your friends have added you as contact, you can simply accept it on the “New Friends”. Now, you’re ready to use WeChat!
What Can You Do with WeChat?
WeChat is a messaging and calling app. But users can do much more than multimedia messaging. Now, let’s take a look at what you can do with the WeChat app.
Chat with Friends
Go to “Contacts” on the WeChat screen and touch a friend’s name. You can choose to send messages or video & voice call.
If you tap on “Messages” icon, you can type a message or send a voice message in the message field, touch the smiley face button to add emotions, send a photo or video, or even take a photo or video to send.
If you tap on “Video & Voice Call” icon, you can call your friends with Wi-Fi or data connection and it won’t charge you any other phone bills.
Post Your Life on WeChat Moment
Go to “Discover > Moments” and tap on the camera icon on the top right corner and you will be able to select or take photos/videos to post on the WeChat moment.
WeChat Pay for Cashless Payments
To successfully use the WeChat Pay, you need to connect your e-wallet with your bank or a credit card by going to “Me > Wallet > Cards > Add Back Cards”.
Now, to make a payment with WeChat Wallet, you should go to “Discover> Scan QR Code” and align the QR Code within the frame to scan.
WeChat Official Account for Business
You can access the Chinese market by applying for a WeChat Official Account. Why? You should know that China blocks the foreign websites and people there are not able to access much of the global internet. On the other side, you will find out that almost all of the users who own a smartphone would have the WeChat app on their devices. So if you have a business based in China, you should get started to apply for a WeChat Official Account.
WeChat users can register as an official account, which enables them to push feeds to subscribers, interact with subscribers and provide them with services. There are three types of official accounts:
- Enterprise account: for internal company use and have a separate backend. This blog is concerned with the other accounts that consumers will follow.
- Subscription account: appear as extremely limited in some functions, but it’s still a good fit for organizations for which sending one message per day is key.
- Service account: more efficient at collecting data from users and using this data to send them targeted marketing. It will also enable more complex functions to be implemented.
How to Use WeChat for Your Business
Lead generation: WeChat has many tools built into it, such as QR codes that are specifically designed to aid lead generation.
Content marketing and Advertising: Most users consume content on WeChat several times a day. Posting regular, relevant content is a good tactic. Once your account has been verified, you will be able to access WeChat’s advertising platform, giving you unprecedented access to WeChat’s 768 million daily active users.
Payments: WeChat Pay is one of the most popular mobile payment methods in China.
Let’s have a look at each of these in more detail.
WeChat works especially well when it comes to the generation of leads, having functions designed to help businesses reach the right audiences; for instance, it’s popular for businesses to provide Wi-Fi for users asking them to follow the business’ account in return. Having said this, businesses sometimes make the mistake of creating an account on WeChat and remaining inactive on it, hoping that it will do the job by itself.
Part of the reason for being on WeChat is to spark a conversation between companies and their customers: if users are not getting what they need from the accounts they are following, they will delete them. It is very important therefore to cater to users’ interests and needs on your account and make sure that you make the most of the opportunities it offers.
Content Marketing and Advertising
WeChat is a powerful platform for content publishing: most of WeChat’s users read content on the platform in one format or another at some point during the day. Official accounts on WeChat can suggest content to followers, but this should be done carefully: if the content is irrelevant for the users, they may stop interacting with the brand.
Verified users can also gain access to WeChat’s advertising platform, which can be used to promote the account, the company website or the business app; the platform also has the option for you to choose where your ads will appear.
Within the WeChat app, you can also complete online transactions, and this is, in fact, one of the most popular mobile payment methods in China. This is probably due to the fact that it is very convenient and widely available, currently accepting as many as nine currencies.
Tips to be Successful Using WeChat for your Business in China
Companies can create content and show new products and offers to members. The content should be useful, interesting and relevant in order to attract and keep users. This content could be audio messages, videos, photos, and texts.
WeChat acts like a perfect CRM tool due to its one to one communication. Its best use is for loyalty programs and customer relationship management because WeChat allows a personal conversation between brands and followers. Provide to users the feeling of being unique, be the sole focus of the brand is an effective strategy to engage them.
#3 QR Code
One of the features of WeChat is that consumers will usually not be able to find you directly via a search and instead they have to do it through QR codes. That’s why the brand’s QR Code should appear in your packaging, shops, social media, and website.
#4 Customer Feedback
It is a great platform to gauge consumer satisfaction because, via WeChat, companies can collect users’ feedback. It’s useful for brands to know customers’ opinions of their products, besides companies can present them their new products in order to know their first impressions.
#5 Online to Offline Sales
Companies are using promotions to moving sales from online to offline. For that, brands launch promotions online that members can use in the retail location. For example, via WeChat, brands can send an alert to their followers saying that in the next few hours a promotion will take place in their store.
#6 Product Launches
When companies are preparing product launches, WeChat becomes a good tool in order to invite specific subscribers according to their browsing history or location.
#7 Payment Services
Wechat has added a payment tool which allows users to purchase products which one-click payment. Customers can use WeChat payment to link their bank cards and receive some benefits and offers.
Get Started With WeChat Marketing!
There are many brands such as Burberry, Pepsi, Starbucks or Coach that are already enjoying the WeChat benefits.
Companies are integrating the social platform into their marketing strategies because they know the influence that exerts on consumers.