Marketing Your Brand To China On WeChat


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WeChat simplified...

WeChat is China’s most dominant social media network owned by Tencent. It started out as a messaging service and has transformed into an all-in-one app where users can do almost everything. WeChat offers far more than any other social media channel or messaging app in the Western world. WeChat is where the majority of China-based consumers spend their time and engage with brands. This is an ideal opportunity for western business to bridge their brand with a diverse volume of people looking to buy western brands, travel or study abroad, to name a few.

In terms of comparison, WeChat consolidates all of the Western social media platforms into one: For example, imagine combining Facebook, WhatsApp, Google News, Tinder, and Pinterest into one single platform. Now, imagine adding a payment gateway on top of this,  WeChat also integrates their own version of Revolut, Google Wallet or Apple Pay. Yes, WeChat is used by its users to pay for the majority of payment transactions. WeChat has become an essential place for Western companies to promote their brand to the right audience at the right time.

WeChat continues to transition into an unrivalled app and create numerous opportunities for various businesses. It also contains 1 million third-party apps within the WeChat mini-programs. Over the years, WeChat is the undisputed champ in China’s vibrant social media landscape where Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube, and many more foreign platforms remain blocked. For Western brands aiming to target a China-based audience, WeChat is the primary platform. Its main functions include messaging, payments, mini programme, games and top-up, video calls, moments (like micro-blogging), interest groups, official company accounts, advertising options, etc.

Western companies usually find it challenging to set-up and manage a WeChat account, and navigate the complexities of bureaucracy in China for foreign-owned companies. Surfstr can aid Western clients in this process alongside our partners in China.

We can help you get started, so you can start promoting your brand on WeChat and drive consumers to your company. We provide end to end WeChat digital marketing services, campaign strategy and implementation, content creation, account management, graphics and design, translations, microsite set-up, reporting and much more.

Key WeChat Statistics

  • 1.08 billion—monthly active WeChat users (Q3 2018)
  • 1 billion—daily active users (Jan 2019)
  • 750 million—  daily Wechat moments users
  • 79%—WeChat market penetration in China
  • 5th—most-used app in the world
  • 10 billion hits on WeChat Moments every 24 hours
  • 30 million active users of WeChat at Work, 1.5 million enterprises
  • 17 million active ‘official accounts’ as of late 2017
  • 900 million users of WeChat Pay on a monthly basis
  • Around 30% of mobile internet time in China is spent on WeChat
  • 83% of WeChat users use the general app for work

How can I use WeChat for my Business?

The bottom line, marketing Western Brands to China on WeChat requires a solid understanding of the Chinese market trends, a realistic strategy, html5, graphic design, videography, proven marketing skills in China and legal know-how. Without these essentials, western companies will find it challenging and costly to create compelling and successful campaigns.

Surfstr bridges our Western clients to a China-based audience. Your brand will be promoted in China by Native marketers that genuinely understand and embrace market trends. Furthermore, we have native designers and developers that work together to launch your brand successfully. Surfstr offers a variety of solutions for varying budgets types, including B2B and C2C clients.

There are many different ways to advertise or market on WeChat. It depends on the type of product you want to sell, what your goals are, what your budget is, are you B2B or B2C, or maybe you just want to create content. Surfstr offers a free consultation to new clients to explore your opportunities.

Understanding the platform and market
Getting accustomed to the platform can take some know-how for western brands. There are two options that Surfstr offers to bridge and build your brand following on WeChat: a subscription account that lets brands push out one message per day and a service account that caps the number of brand messages to one a week. Both require account set-up, registration and that needs you to have a registered business in China. However, we work with our partners in China to complete this process for our clients.

With subscription accounts, brands can push out consistent messaging, which Surfstr recommends for marketers that already have a robust content marketing strategy.

Service accounts, on the other hand, reach more people but can’t be used as often by marketers. These accounts are better suited for brands that want to do more than use the platform for branding-including e-commerce and customer service. In either case, it’s hard to break through the clutter, and the app requires brands to act more like users than marketers.

Then there are service ads, called WeChat Moments, which recently opened to all brands after a small rollout to a handful of accounts in January. The news feed-style ads look similar to Facebook sponsored posts and run in between pieces of content. Traditional means of advertising on WeChat is expensive. However, our Savvy social media team use different approaches for a cost-effective advertising solution. Surfstr can target Moment ads by age, location, gender and device type and specific interests.

Content Marketing
This is where you create lots of content on WeChat subscription or service accounts. The goal of content marketing is to gain followers, engagement, and increase brand awareness.

WeChat Moment Ads
Moments ads are as they sound. They look like any other moment, but it’s an ad. Moments ads only appear on users with a large following and with frequent moment updates from their friends. You can target your ads base on:

WeChat Moment Card Ads
The Moment Card ad format is pretty new to WeChat; it reminds me of Facebook newsfeed ads. So instead of having six pictures (standard moments), you get one big image and title/description below it.

WeChat Banner Ads
Banner ads are ads you can purchase with WeChat to be placed on the bottom of a subscription account’s contents. You can choose which subscription account you would like to place your banner on, but the account owner must first approve your request. Think of WeChat Banner ads like Google Display Ads. Instead of choosing a website to place your ads, you choose official accounts.Alternatively, you can directly approach the account owner and offer to pay to place a banner ad on their official account.

KOL (Influencer Marketing)
KOL stands for Key Opinion Influencer, the term KOL is just mostly used in China. In the west, it’s just influencer marketing. WeChat influencer marketing is pretty much the same as any other platform’s influencer marketing. Mostly you pay the influencer to promote, write, mention, or talk about your product.

The reason KOL marketing in China is prevalent is that there are so many KOLs in China, and they work depending what you are selling. Regarding price, they can be cost-effective to costly. It depends on their following and engagement.

H5 Campaigns
The H5 stands for HTML5, this type of campaign is widespread on WeChat in China and is usually unitised by large brands. The way it works is simple; you lead with copy content, for example, you may ask an influencer to write a piece of content regarding the top travel destinations in Europe, and then use copywriting to relate it to your goal at the very end. For example, in this scenario, you would be advertising on behalf of Tourism bodies in Europe where you can advertise the country as a travel destination. This form of content marketing drives engagement, and at the end of the article, there is a read more button that takes you to the website of Tourism Ireland.

Once the user clicks on the button, they are directed to a HTML5 WeChat page, and usually, the ad is interactive. Finally, on the H5 page, the user can click on the product that will lead them to TMall, JD, or other e-commerce platforms where they can make a purchase.

Personal or Sole Proprietor
If you are a sole prosperity and you want to advertise on WeChat, your options are limited. Paid advertising in China is more expensive than the West. In the West, a sole proprietor can set-up Facebook ads for as little as 5 EUR a day and can achieve decent results depending on your market and what you sell. But this is not the case in China.

Networking & Moments
The most common way is networking, there was a period in China where people would add you randomly as a friend so that they can push their advertising on moments. This made the majority of people in mainland China extremely cautious as to who they friend on WeChat.

You can form groups on WeChat just like Facebook groups, however, unlike Facebook group, there is very little management when it comes to WeChat groups. First, anyone in your group can invite another friend into the group without the owner permission.

International WeChat Advertising
It’s worth noting that if you want to advertise on WeChat and your audience are Chinese people living abroad; the only way is to find local KOLs or use your personal account as a networking tool. WeChat does not offer location base targeting outside of China with their ads, so there is absolutely no point in paid advertising if you’re planning to target Chinese people living abroad.
However, as of 2017, WeChat allows advertisers to target Chinese tourists travelling outside of China. WeChat now offers the solution to target this very group of customers.

Through the geo-location feature of WeChat, WeChat knows precisely where users are located. And Tencent, therefore, offers foreign brands to target customers. WeChat knows who has logged in on WeChat and from what countries, and the specific time and day. Albeit, no city-level targeting is possible at the moment, but the feature is on the roadmap. WeChat is only capable of tracking 16 countries/regions.
Asia: Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand

  • United States and Canada
  • Germany, France, England and Italy
  • Australian and New Zealand
  • The list of countries is expected to increase.

Video Advertising
WeChat moments video advertising has taken the platform by storm. The Surfstr Multimedia and Videography team are happy to create fresh and exciting videos for your target audience.

Become A Case Study
Discuss with a Surfstr representative what is the best solution for your business. We offer free consultations to new clients, and we look after all of the complications that obstruct western business, so you don’t have to.

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