Digital Marketing on WeChat in China

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Digital Marketing on WeChat in China

By: Yuting Li

WeChat, an instant message App developed by Tencent Technology, is replacing traditional text messaging and other instant message platforms in China nowadays.  Accoding to Statista, WeChat ranked top 5 in the most popular most popular social networks worldwide as of April 2018, evaluated by number of active users (Statista, 2018).  There are over 960 million WeChat accounts in 2017 in China (Statista, 2018), which means about 70% of the Chinese population use this social media platform.  Besides Wechat’s huge active user base, the platform itself brings a huge business opportunity for a variety of individuals and organizations in the digital world.

Figure 1: top social network worldwide (Statista, 2018)

Even though the App is famous for its simple and clean style, as opposed to Tecent’s instant message software QQ, WeChat still offers complimentary features inside the software, one of which is called the WeChat Offical Account aka Subscription Account or Public Account.  It is different type of WeChat account different from an ordinary user account which the owner of the account can send articles to its subscribers.  The owner of the official account can be an individual, an organization, a company and government.   WeChat describes an Official Account as a “channel of communication inside and throughout Wechat application” (WeChat, 2018). 

WeChat Official Account has created a new way for digital marketing in China or in Asia, where WeChat is the most popular at.  Prior to the raise of WeChat, the main search engine Baidu dominated the whole digital marketing field in China.  The benefit with WeChat Official Account is that it reaches directly to millions of WeChat users, who spend more time browsing on their mobile phones than those who use Baidu, who are most likely to be on a computer.  Mobile channel has more mobility and is more actively used by its owners than a computer, which often sits at home or office.  Information will generate a higher frequency and impression if it’s being spread on mobile platforms instead of on the PC side.  When the information is being spread on a high-traffic instant message app that users use on daily basis, the result is more promising. 

The interface of the WeChat Official Account is shown as in figure 2.  It’s grouped separated from users chat history.  When user enter and subscribe the official account, as shown to the right of figure 2, they will be able to click the menu bar on the bottom of the official account, where the account owner can choose to develop all kinds of features suitable to whatever they want to promote on their account.  For example, a lot of the accounts develop an online shop in their WeChat Official Account.  Subscribers can visit and shop easily, and receive push articles related to their product and service. 

Figure 2: WeChat Official Account (walkthechat, 2018)

Walkthechat is a service to help foreign business or individuals set up their WeChat Official Account and market on their account.  Their service includes setting up WeChat shop and WeChat content or store management, which are the basic operation one can do with a WeChat Account.  Appearances of services like Walkthechat shows there is demand for foreign business wanting to expand the Asian market.  

The raise of WeChat Official Account as a new channel of digital marketing has a lot to do with the contribution of the successful accounts.  Luojisiwei (逻辑思维) is one of the classic examples for this case study.  The account is created by Luo Zhenyu.  As one of the earliest profitable WeChat Official Account, Luo started it as a normal subscription account that shares his reaction, summary and analysis to a book that he read.  The difference is instead of sharing an article or image like most of the Official Accounts do, he shares his audio message.  While WeChat limits each audio message to 60 seconds, he is able to contract his take on the book within a minute.  From the subscriber’s point of view, he or she is able to know about the book in one minute.  This is why he was able to generate 5 million followers (Walkthechat, 2018).  In the fast-developing era, everybody is eager to gain more knowledge.  Reading is a great way but most people don’t have the patience to spend the time nowadays in China.  At least comparing to spend an hour reading a book, one is able to know 60 of them by listening to Luo’s message.  Luo then integrate his book shop into the account since his subscribers are book-lovers and learners.  His business model is formed and his profit is showing.

  Nowadays the majority of famous brands in the Chinese market has registered and managing an WeChat Official Account in their own ways.  The futures of WeChat marketing is uncertain since there are more and more of those accounts trying to share the market.  One day the market will reach equilibrium.  As of today, WeChat Official Account is more like a standard or essential to a business or brand in term of their promotion.  

REFERENCES:

Statista.  Most popular social networks worldwide as of April 2018, ranked by number of active users (in millions.  (2018).  Retrieved May 8, 2018, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/

WeChat.  What is Wechat official account?  (2018).  Retrieved May 8, 2018, from http://www.wechat-help.com/official_account/

Walkthechat.   What is WeChat marketing?  (2018). Retrieved May 8, 2018, from https://walkthechat.com/wechat-marketing/