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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/

The Past, Present, and Future of Social Media

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The Past, Present, and Future of Social Media

By: Bryan Erskine

                In today’s society we are continually connected to the internet. However, back in the mid 90’s many believed the internet was just a fad. Ryan Holmes points out in his article Why Businesses Can’t Survive Without Social Media that there was an article written in 1995 which has become infamous called The Internet? Bah! It was an interesting article where it essentially states that shopping online, and many of the things we do every day now online was all a fad that would never come to pass. Well, reality check, its come to pass. As we all know most people in today’s society cannot survive without the internet now and business have been impacted more than any other. Users expect businesses to have websites complete with pictures, menus, biographies, and much more. Whats more is that social media has been becoming more and more critical to businesses. Social media has been becoming the new marketing tool but is constantly changing.

                Social media itself is constantly changing and therefore marketing with social media is also constantly changing. Marketers are continually asking which tactics should be used with social media, what are the best ways to engage users through social media, how do I measure the return on my social media, how do I find my target audience with social media and many other questions (Stelzner 2015).  Marketers then also have to take a look at time management with all of these outlets for advertising how do you find time to hit all of the social media, website, and many other mediums? Automation is becoming very popular as well as organic media posts. Automation has had some backlash, however, as according to Nick Leffler in his article The Future of Social Media he states that “Automation is ruining social media” he goes on to say that “social media posts are automatically discovered and posted in a queue. One posted, replies and engagement are ignored”. This begins to then saturate social media with information on a product but does not allow for questions to be answered when asked because it is all automated and no actual person is paying attention to the posts. Organic posts are quite a bit more desired by companies as these are getting users who like the product to post on social media, Pinterest, and other areas how much they liked the product. These get shared between users and have no direct roots to the company other than the product they sold the original consumer. This, however, hits the other issue marketers have in how can you measure the return on organic social media?

                These trends then begin to make predicting the future of social media difficult. If we look at past trends in social media such as the death of Myspace and the emergence of Facebook what we will see in the future are more social media avenues for businesses to hit in order to get their product more widely seen. We will also begin to see different tactics such as more videos with shorter times to attract younger users who would rather watch a video than read and article. We will begin to see the continuing to utilize organic marketing as well as what appears to be organic marketing with Bot accounts to begin to push the organic ads to users in hopes to continue them in what seems organic. We will also see more paid ads in places they may not have been before. We may also see a large shift based on changes that may happen with the death of net neutrality. If users are forced to pay for social media there could be a drop in users wanting to pay for a social media add-on to their internet service.

References

Holmes, R (18 Nov 2015) Why Businesses Can’t Survive Without Social Media. Fortune.com, Time Inc. Retrieved from: http://fortune.com/2015/11/18/businesses-cant-survive-social-media/

Leffler, N (30 Jan 2017) Changing from Media to Social. Exprance. Retrieved from: https://www.exprance.com/future-social-media-changing/

Stelzner, M (May 2015) 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. Social Media Examiner, retrieved from: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/SocialMediaMarketingIndustryReport2015.pdf

Voice Search Marketing

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Voice Search Marketing

By: Daniel Meighen

In a world of connected devices, businesses are constantly looking for an edge in digital marketing. A trend that is becoming popular and relevant is voice search marketing. According to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, voice search accounted for 20% of all queries on Google’s mobile app (Muller, 2018). Additionally, it is estimated that by the year 2020 more than half of all searches will be through voice search (DeMers, 2018).

Voice search marketing is geared towards utilizing the voice recognition built into devices to break down audio into readable text and then using that information to present relevant content. For example, Amazon’s Alexa devices can be used to place an order just by speaking. So how does voice search marketing differ from regular marketing? One of the biggest differences is in the approach to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) (Muller, 2018). Voice search devices pull data from different sources. For example, Google Home uses Google data while Amazon Alexa uses data from both Bing and Amazon (Muller, 2018). This difference in sources of data means that the SEO approach will need to be adjusted to account for this. Currently, Google Home gets its answers to voice searches from the featured snippet at the top of the search results (Muller, 2018). An entity that wants to utilize Google Home’s voice search for marketing purposes should make sure they focus on getting their content to the top of Google’s search results. However, if they plan to use Amazon’s Alexa devices, the focus would be better suited towards Bing and Amazon’s search content.

Additionally, keyword research is essential for this topic (Muller, 2018). It is important to find the right keywords that will allow your content to reach the top of relevant searches. A customer may speak differently than how they type so keywords may be different for voice search marketing (Sesto, 2018). On this same path, it would be wise to make sure the target website is mobile-friendly (Sesto, 2018). With 61% of people using voice search primarily because their hands or vision are occupied, it makes sense that mobile devices will be used when viewing the search results (Young, 2016). When conducting keyword research and voice search SEO, localization is an important consideration just as with normal SEO. Although a search for “the best computer” may not need localized results, a search for “great southern food near me” would benefit greatly from using location data. To add to this, the results that are presented from voice searches are different than with text searches (Olson, 2016).

A person may type in a search box something like “best car dealer in Wisconsin” but may say something such as “where can I find a good car dealer?” Voice searches tend to be more conversational and longer than text queries (Olson, 2016). They also tend to be presented in a question format utilizing keywords such as who, what, when, and where (Olson, 2016). Recognizing these question phrases will help with identifying the intent of the search. Someone asking, “what is the difference between a tenderloin and a T-bone?”, may only be conducting research, but asking, “where can I get a great T-bone steak?”, shows intent to purchase. This intent is important to consider when identifying keywords to use for marketing purposes.

With the ever-changing digital trends and advances in technology, it is essential that businesses are aware of these trends and strive to embrace their marketing potential. Voice search marketing is just another method of expanding towards the proper audience. With the growing trend of hands-free voice-recognition devices, understanding how to provide content to these devices is a move that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

References

DeMers, J. (2018). How To Take Advantage Of Voice Search In Your Marketing Campaign. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2018/01/12/how-to-take-advantage-of-voice-search-in-your-marketing-campaign/#4f1d90017d43

Muller, B. (2018). Voice Search: Is Your Content Ready? Retrieved from https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2018/01/voice-search-content/

Olson, C. (2016). Just say it: The future of search is voice and personal digital assistants. Retrieved from https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/just-say-it-future-search-voice-personal-digital-assistants/1392459

Sesto, G. (2018). Digital Marketing Trends to Look Out for in 2019. Retrieved from https://dashtwo.com/blog/6-marketing-trends-for-2019/

Young, W. (2016). The voice search explosion and how it will change local search. Retrieved from https://searchengineland.com/voice-search-explosion-will-change-local-search-251776