And for more on this topic, read our posts on:
- Social media marketing in China: Which platforms should you invest in?
- How and why Western brands are experimenting with WeChat
1. China’s Communist Party uses WeChat
Specifically, to hand out virtual red envelopes ahead of Chinese New Year.
WeChat users this year had to use phrases from President Xi Jinping’s New Year speech to unlock the lucky money via Alipay.
2. Ads play differently in China
There was consternation when ads first launched in WeChat Moments in January 2015 (Moments is the WeChat term for social posts shared to friends, sort of like the Facebook timeline).
While those unfamiliar with the platform may have suspected the backlash would be a standard anti-commercial sentiment, in fact the opposite was the case.
Users saw BMW ads as validation, and those who were served Coca-Cola ads instead felt diminished.
Three different Moments ads (via China Daily)
3. WeChat has only just released an automated platform for Moments ads
WeChat continues to finesse its ad products in 2016. Until Q1 of this year, advertisers have had to liaise with Tencent ad sales to purchase ad space.
Now WeChat has rolled out a programmatic platform. With the same beta release, WeChat is allowing for geo-targeting of ads, alongside existing demographic targeting.
Tencent has had difficulty monetising WeChat through ads, with banner ads on account profiles proving unsuccessful.
4. WeChat websites allow brands to provide products and services
While businesses can share updates and product information via WeChat messages, any self-respecting brand has a WeChat website.
It’s this website customisation, alongside the differentiation between personal, brand and service accounts, that makes commerce work well on WeChat.
Here’s Elle’s WeChat website, based on Google’s Material Design (via Walkthechat.com)
5. Brands use WeChat CRM systems
Alongside a clunky backend interface, WeChat official accounts only store customer messages for five days.
This limitation within the platform means that brand service accounts must use third-party software to efficiently store chat history.
6. There’s no deep linking from WeChat to brand apps
WeChat does not allow deep linking like Facebook does, so brands cannot direct users to their own mobile apps.
Interaction remains firmly within the WeChat ecosystem.
7. Foreign merchants can use cross-border WeChat payment
WeChat users can use WePay when abroad to pay for offline goods and services (using a QR system in-app, much like the Starbucks system), as well as for payment on foreign websites.
WePay allows for payment in eight foreign currencies, including the US dollar and British pound sterling.
8. WeChat and the internet of things
The LINQ hotel and casino created a WeChat interface to allow hotel customers to control lighting, thermostat, curtains and the door lock.
Though this isn’t a trend to be given great heed, it highlights how WeChat is a flexible platform that works with a variety of inputs (such as GPS, gyroscope and voice) to create diverse interactions.
9. Links trump photos and video
Unlike Facebook, where video and photographs posted within the ‘walled garden’ are favoured algorithmically, WeChat makes sharing difficult for rich media.
Engaging with content from WeChat takes two or three clicks, which means users prefer to engage with longer form content (articles and collections of photos, rather than individual pictures and comments).
Brands should therefore adopt a strategy of directing users to their owned media.
10. Users cannot delete a WeChat account
Users must contact WeChat customer service before an account can be deleted.