WeChat: what is it and how does this social network work?
The social media environment never stops changing. While some are revealed as a passing fad and end up falling into oblivion, others resist year after year and others emerge and succeed in a short time.
In this article we will tell you all about a Chinese social network that already It has more than 1 billion people and has set out to conquer the world: WeChat.
What is the WeChat social network?
WeChat is a Chinese application developed by Tencent, which offers multiple messaging and social functions :
messaging service with text and voice messages, live broadcasts, video calls and sending of images, videos and vide games.
Geolocation . For example, users can add close contacts using the “friend radar” or see close people with a public profile.
Official accounts or verified, which allow you to send notifications to all subscribers, interact with them and offer them exclusive services, similar to a Facebook page.
- WeChat Moments . The functionality most similar to what we understand by a social network, in which users can share images, statuses, links and other elements to a series of selected contacts.
WeChat Pay . A mobile payment system that arrived in our country in June 2017.
Mini programs . A feature where programmers can code programs under 10 megabytes in the WeChat interface.
Entreprise WeChat : a special version designed for professional use, with functionalities similar to Slack.
Transferring files from computer to mobile.
As you can see, WeChat is something like WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Google Play and Slack at the same time, so it is not surprising that they call it “the super app”. And it is clear that its functions have penetrated among users, since it has 1,151 million active users according to Statista. In addition, it is available in 20 languages, including Spanish.
The secret of WeChat’s success
WeChat not only has a lot of users, but they also spend a lot of time on it. The average is 66 minutes a day, and 34% spend more than 4 hours a day, according to a TechNode report. But what are the reasons for this success?
Integration with everyday life . WeChat supplements the functions of a lot of different applications, so it has many ways to integrate itself into daily routines. In addition, China is a country with a high penetration of smartphones, which manufactures more phones than any other country in the world and in which about half of sales are already made through mobile phones.
The functionalities for businesses. According to a report by TechNode (TechCrunch’s official partner in Asia), 80% of WeChat users use it for work issues. 90% of small business owners use WeChat for their operations and 70% of freelancers use it for transactions. Its success reaches such an extent that it is even replacing work emails.
Payment via mobile . WeChat Pay is a very well designed feature that is well received by its users. It allows making transactions through QR codes and in different currencies. In addition, it not only offers the possibility to pay in stores, but also to send the “red envelopes” that are offered as gifts in China on special occasions.
The mini programs . The mini-program functionality allows WeChat to become an “application application”, which users can customize by adding the functionalities that interest them most.
Verified accounts for brands . In China, many startups start their digital presence with WeChat and only later launch their own website or app. The advantage is that WeChat offers a very low cost of entry, makes it possible to grow through word of mouth and also allows you to integrate e-commerce stores.
And it is better that WeChat does not It only triumphs among users, but also among advertisers . Thanks to its high utilization rate and multiple functionalities, it has managed to accumulate a lot of data about its users: what they do, see, read, buy, where they go, who they are with … AND This is a gold mine to be able to make ad campaigns that hit the spot.
How do you use WeChat?
If you want to better understand how WeChat works and how you could use it for your brand, it is best to try it for yourself! Let’s see how to take the first steps in WeChat : create your account, add contacts and send them messages.
Download the WeChat application and open it.
Tap the “Register” button and indicate your region and phone number.
Verify the account with the 4-digit code that will be sent to you by text message.
Create your WeChat profile with your name and photo (optional).
Find your friends. You can add friends automatically or manually. For the first option, on the “Find friends” screen, you will be asked if you want to find your friends on WeChat. If you accept, the names, phone numbers and emails of your mobile will be uploaded to the WeChat servers to find your friends.
To add friends from Manually, press the “Contacts” button. You can import friends from your contact list or search for them directly through their phone or WeChat ID.
To send a message, go to Back to “Contacts”, tap the name of the friend you want to contact and then tap the “Messages” option to open a chat window. You can send text, emoticons, photos or videos, as well as make calls or video calls.
WeChat in your business strategy
WeChat has a lot of functions to make life easier for companies, both at marketing level and internal organization . Of course, in order to use them, it is necessary to have a company in China or at least a business license abroad that allows us to create an official account.
WeChat has been very careful about monetization strategies and has limited the ways brands can reach people to avoid the spam effect. His point of view is that the platform is primarily a site for users to engage with people and brands they already know. Even so, it offers many options to be able to connect with potential followers and do marketing.
WeChat for the business organization
If we want to use WeChat As a productivity and internal organization tool , the first thing we will have to do is create a business account . This type of account requires both the follower and the account to approve each other. Among its functions, we highlight the following:
Task manager to organize work within the company.
Communication by groups or departments. Content submitted by a business account on WeChat cannot be shared with unauthorized users, so they are perfect for internal company newsletters.
WeChat for marketing
If we want to communicate with the public, we will have to use another type of official WeChat accounts : subscription accounts or service accounts.
subscription accounts are primarily intended for communication and allow up to 1 push message per day to be sent to followers. These messages are grouped in a special folder, which appears next to the messages of friends in the chat.
The service accounts are more visible, since they appear directly as friends in the chat section. In addition, they offer additional features such as WeChat access, WeChat payment, and geolocation. Their major drawback is that they only allow you to send 4 messages a month.
In addition to creating an official account, companies can also use the mini programs to offer extra functionalities users.
Companies located in China can create a profile in WeChat Stores to upload and promote their items and services. It is a kind of Amazon integrated into WeChat itself.
The WeChat Marketplace allows you to carry out secure and professional transactions, as we would in any online store. Companies can manage their products and orders or even answer customer complaints.
In addition to using the WeChat Marketplace itself, we also have the option of using this platform to redirect users to our own online store . For example, H&M launched a game with which users could earn discounts. When finished, the user was sent to the brand’s online store so that he could redeem them.
Marketing actions in WeChat
Finally, we are going to see some practical cases of brands that have already used WeChat for their marketing actions .
The New York Times: daily content
There are quite a few outlets that have a WeChat account and use it to send daily content to their subscribers, such as BuzzFeed, the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post or Vogue.
The New York Times has had an account created since 2015. And subscribers to its WeChat channel receive a bilingual compendium of the most important news every day, being Chinese and English.
The work is carried out in collaboration with the technology agency CuriosityChina, which is helping to expand the reach of the Times newspaper to the millions of monthly users that the app has in more than 200 countries.
Starbucks: discount coupons
For Starbucks, the ultimate goal is to take users to physical stores, and coupons are one of the most used strategies to achieve this. Since WeChat is one of the most popular payment methods in China, it was an ideal platform to distribute coupons.
Seeing this success, the Starbucks in Malaysia wanted do the same and encourage coupons a lot so that you end up paying with WeChat Pay.
The Forbidden City: User Generated Content
The Forbidden City is one of the most popular tourist attractions in China, but being a site of historical interest, it was not easy for him to connect with the younger generations.
To solve this problem, they launched a marketing action on WeChat called “The Next Idea”, a creative competition in which participants had to design emojis based on historical figures who had lived in the Forbidden City.
To make the campaign even more fun, they launched a landing page in which Emperor Zhu, who ordered the construction n the Forbidden City, he did things like rap, take a selfie, or post on WeChat.
OrderIn: geolocation-based marketing
OrderIn is a food delivery company in South Africa that took advantage of one of the functionalities of WeChat’s service accounts: detecting the user’s location.
In this way, they used the app to show subscribers a list of local restaurants based on your location and your address. Users could view the letter, place the order and pay without leaving WeChat.
Burberry – An interactive New Years greeting
Burberry fans on WeChat received a photo of a cylinder-shaped gift box , along with instructions to open it: shake the phone, touch and slide. Following the instructions, the box would open to display a lunar New Year greeting, which could then be customized to send to other contacts.
Tiffany & Co: interaction and participation
In their special Valentine’s Day campaign, Tiffany & Co asked their WeChat followers what love means to them. In addition to participating in this challenge with the phrase “Love is …”, users could also share animated GIFs of the campaign.
In parallel, Tiffany & Co enabled on-page chats so that users could use them to locate their ideal engagement ring and then see where to buy it through the store locator.