WeChat, which is considered to be the hottest social tool in China, reaches 400m users and 195m Monthly Active Users since its launch in January 2011. Now not only individual users, but also more and more companies are trying out WeChat as a marketing and sales channel. If you talk to any marketer in China, they will say: ‘WeChat is where it is happening now, go there!’
What exactly is WeChat? WeChat is a smartphone-only IM chat app, users can send text, voice message, images and video etc. via the internet for free. Another very important function in WeChat is the ‘social friends circle’, which shows the more social side of this app, where your post and update will be seen by all your friends, and as well, you will be able to see your friends post and interact with them by ‘like’ and ‘leave a comments’ etc. It is the combination of IM and Social what makes WeChat so powerful.
For business users, however, WeChat also develops two kind of public accounts ‘subscription account’ and ‘service account’ which have more functions in order to meet their commercial needs. This move enhances WeChat ‘s ambition to become an important marketing platform. The introduction of these professional accounts gives much more opportunities for company marketing through WeChat. Companies have a much closer attachment with their clients through connecting them on WeChat, and it also becomes much easier and more targeted for them to pass on their information to their connections.
WeChat is developed by Chinese Internet giant Tencent, which also runs multiple very popular online applications, such as Skype-like IM software QQ, and social networking sites Qzone. As the biggest internet company in Asia, Tencent aims to become truly international, and WeChat is considered to be the best opportunity for them to meet this goal. Now WeChat already opened its office in the US, and it has already taken a significant market share in India, as well as in other southeastern Asian countries. However, in order to really have a global user base, Wechat still has a long way to go. At this moment the biggest challenge outside of Asia, like any other social media tools, is the story of the chicken and the egg – meaning: the users’ community – people only starts to use a social media application after the people in their community are using it.
Compared to WhatsApp and Line, which have a stronger global position, WeChat users are still mainly based in China. Only 100m out of the 400m users are based outside of China. However, in China, this app spreads over the urban Chinese from the 1st tier city to 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th tier cities. The number of users, and more importantly, the number of active users is still increasing very fast because of its friendly usability of the app, and the fact that is saves people costs for text messages and calls.
As a result, WeChat seems to be a perfect marketing tool for companies that target on Chinese consumers. However, before you ‘go there’ and start to practice your marketing efforts on WeChat, you need to know: Is your company and product suitable for WeChat Marketing? Why do you want to start WeChat marketing? Do you want to maintain the relationship with your hard leads, or your main goal is actually to explore as many new potential clients as possible? Do you know enough about WeChat? What’s the difference between WeChat and other online tools? Do you understand WeChat users enough? Answer these question for yourself before you rush into it, you will have a much more clear path and success.