How Businesses Can Use WeChat for Their Marketing Campaigns
According to iResearch data collected in April 2014, WeChat is now the #1 mobile chat application in China ahead of Sina Weibo and Qzone in terms of effective usage time. But what is WeChat? And why are major brands and businesses including Nike, Burberry and McDonald’s breaking into this app for marketing?
WeChat is an innovative mobile chat application that as of September 2013 has over 350 million registered users. The app was launched in 2011 and has been climbing the ranks of mobile applications ever since. On November 25 2012, WeChat was reported to be the top ranked iOS social networking application in 6 different countries including Hong Kong, Argentina and Thailand. The service supports voice and text messages, videos and pictures.
The popularity of WeChat has to do with a number of factors:
1. The users on WeChat are authentic. Because WeChat requires a telephone number, it’s the strictest social media platform in China.
2. Official WeChat account holders can reach their target audience directly which they can, in turn, choose to categorize based on demographic data.
3. WeChat provides an integral communication platform allowing registered users to interact with their friends and favorite brands through text, pictures, videos and voice messages.
- WeChat was launched in 2011
- As of September 2013, WeChat has over 350 million registered users with 100 million users outside of China
- Approximately 50% of WeChat users are between the ages of 25-30.
With stats like these, no wonder WeChat is one of the marketing channels businesses are successfully using to reach Chinese consumers. The challenge is to get WeChat marketing right. This includes:
- Defining the role of WeChat as an extension of your marketing strategy
- Defining your content strategy to keep your content stream fresh and interesting
- Defining your target audience to push relevant content
- Promoting your WeChat QR code
- Understanding the concept of “Throw A Bottle, Pick Up A Bottle.”
- Being personal and humorous
- Using voice messages to connect with your audience
- WeChat also has a Location Based Service (LBS) function, which allows businesses to reach clients and customers who are nearby
And while most brands are still trying to find their foothold using China’s number one social mobile app for marketing, some have already jumped on the WeChat bandwagon and are maximizing its potential as an extension of their CRM system.
5 Brands That are Getting WeChat Marketing Right
Starbucks was one of the first companies to create a WeChat account in 2012 shortly after it opened up to brands. The coffee chain’s first round of marketing activity took place between August 28 and September 30 that year and it used a simple idea: A user of the app sends an emoticon to Starbucks. Starbucks then returns a song that reflects the mood of the emoticon originally sent.
By the end of that first marketing campaign, Starbucks had amassed 62,000 fans on WeChat.
The British luxury fashion house Burberry joined WeChat in Fall 2013 using the app to promote the advent of its Art of the Trench Campaign to China. This event was followed by a virtual runway show for fans. Burberry worked in collaboration with WeChat so users could receive real time updates from celebrities attending the show. Finally, for the opening of its Shanghai store, Burberry used the mobile app to share a behind-the-scenes, 360-degree panoramic video of the store and host a contest with tickets to the store launch event as the giveaway.
Clearly, Burberry has this new platform for marketing down!
Nike is yet another star of the WeChat marketing bandwagon. Using the Chinese mobile messaging service as a brand subscription platform with a sports-on-the-go concept, Nike truly maximized on the rise of the popularity of WeChat to reach consumers. Since August 2012, the brand has been using WeChat to:
- Improve their one-on-one relationships with customers
- Build their CRM system
- AND exploit marketing opportunities of the youthful demographic
During the lunar Chinese New Year period, it’s customary for people to send good wishes to their friends, family and acquaintances. This year PepsiCo gave a twist to this tradition. Revolving around the core concept of Pepsi “Delivering Happiness”, PepsiCo launched a campaign whereby people used WeChat to record audio messages mixed in with the very popular Pepsi “Bring Happiness Home” soundtrack. People could also add other effects to their message like a horse’s gallop since they were welcoming the Year of the Horse. The brand message, which came from the theme song itself, was subtle but unmistakably there.
And finally, similar to the campaign carried out by PepsiCo, using WeChat’s voice capabilities, McDonald’s also designed a contest requesting people to submit a “Big Mac Rap” in the style of a Chinese TV personality. Perhaps right there is WeChat’s biggest strength: The app opens up possibilities for user-generated content produced on a mass scale.