Doing business with China: WeChat Marketing 101

If you are doing business with China, you might already know that Western social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and so on are banned in China. So how can you harness the power of social media to increase brand awareness and engagement there?

Weibo, WeChat, Youku and more are the main social media channels in China.

“Companies not only need to translate all their content but must also localise their social media content and channel strategy,” says Jiao Li, co-founder of Cambridge-based Crayfish – the unique online platform dedicated to helping Western companies do business in China. Here she offers some top tips for using WeChat, which she says is the super app in the country.

Jiao says:” WeChat is spreading at rocket speed: it has now surpassed over 1 billion monthly active users as of March 2018 and almost half its users log into the app every day.

“WeChat is often perceived as the equivalent of Facebook and WhatsApp in the West. However, it’s a huge mistake for any international brand to look at WeChat this way.

“WeChat is much more than just a messaging or social media app. As mentioned above, it is THE app which covers all aspects of your social life - it’s a combination of Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, PayPal (Apple pay), Trip Advisor, Uber, Skyscanner, Google and so much more – all within one single app.

So how can you use WeChat for business?

“Let’s start with what account you should have for your company.

“There are three different types of WeChat official accounts:

  1. Subscription paid account
  2. Service account
  3. Enterprise account

“The Enterprise account is designed for internal management of companies. It requires the account owner to approve the followers, so the content will be limited to authorised users only. Therefore, most companies will usually choose either a Subscription or a Service account,” explains Jiao.

“But what’s the difference between the Subscription and the Service accounts? Briefly, the Subscription account enables you to post more frequently (daily), while the Service account only allows you to post four times a month. However, notifications for any updates on Service accounts will appear directly in a user’s conversation log, while the posts from a Subscription account are limited in a subscription folder without any visible notifications on WeChat’s main operation panel. Furthermore, many of WeChat’s unique features, such as CRM and custom menus, are only available to Service accounts.

“In general, if your product offering is content-centred (e.g. media, key opinion leaders (KOLs), newspapers and magazines etc.), you should go for the Subscription account. In other cases, especially when you run an eCommerce business, Crayfish will suggest that you open a Service account.”

Next week Jiao offers suggestions to help you increase WeChat official account followers, so watch this space.

And if you need help setting up or managing WeChat for your business in China, can assist. It matches talented Chinese speaking professionals with Western businesses who need help in dealing with their Chinese partners and audiences, providing a source of qualified people to undertake projects and offer information, knowledge and cultural insight.

Business users post their projects on to the Crayfish website and freelancing Chinese speakers bid for the work, with the transaction carried out through the platform. Users pay a fee after they accept a freelancer's proposal, with payment – less commission – released on completion of the job. The Crayfish team also offers to project manage on behalf of the client for larger and more complex tasks.

See also the Crayfish blog: How do I register an official WeChat account as a foreign company?

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