As far as social media goes, nothing comes close to WeChat in China. Now boasting over a billion monthly active users, it has expanded far beyond the scope of a standard social media app to become a utility-driven portal: users can stay within it and do everything from check their finances to play games.
Key to this is the presence of WeChat’s Mini Programs. They’re stripped-down versions of apps that don’t need to be independently downloaded — instead, they can be loaded directly through the main WeChat app, driving the platform’s immense flexibility.
Due to these main points (its popularity, utility, and accessibility), WeChat has obvious merit as a marketing tool. In this post, we’re going to run through the marketing trends worth noting in 2020, and consider what effective WeChat marketing content looks like. Let’s begin:
Continued investment in KOLs and KOCs
KOLs, or key opinion leaders, are what’s known in the west as influencers on the WeChat platform: they build up large numbers of followers who are swayed heavily by their opinions, meaning there’s a lot of value in arranging sponsorship deals with them. WeChat lacks the content virality of something like Facebook, so it’s much harder for a given piece to get a lot of attention if it isn’t routed through someone popular.
Due to uncertainty about the efficacy of KOL marketing, though, more consideration now goes towards KOCs, or key opinion consumers. KOCs are less cynical and obviously money-hungry: they’re genuinely interested in the products they review and present, so even when they have smaller groups of followers than KOLs, those followers are considerably more likely to follow their recommendations and purchase those items.
Vital to selecting the right KOCs is understanding the audience you’re trying to reach. Following the retail method of generating buyer personas can be a massive help: you can then pick out people who fit those personas and investigate which KOCs they listen to.
The involvement of more international brands
It used to be the case that only businesses with Chinese licenses could create service accounts in WeChat, but that changed back in 2018. What’s more, though it’s all moving very slowly, rules for WeChat Pay are also set to be relaxed to allow foreign bank accounts to be used to access the full range of features currently available to Chinese nationals.
This has understandably elevated interest in WeChat for companies elsewhere in the world. They see the huge number of active users and the level of engagement and they want to know how they can take advantage of it. This is why the platform is seeing more and more official accounts from businesses based outside of China.
Rising use of paid advertising methods
Paid advertising through WeChat has generally been a challenge because it isn’t something the platform has been too eager about. While it’s been an option for quite some time, the unwillingness to sully the perception of the platform by overloading it with ads has shaped a selection of ad types that’s very limited and extremely costly — but this is starting to change.
Being aware of the threat of Tik Tok, WeChat has steadily been offering new ad types with more targeting options and reduced rates, making paid WeChat advertising far more worthwhile than ever before. As 2020 rolls on, expect to see brands invest in it far more heavily.
What good WeChat content involves
Having looked at some of the main marketing trends for WeChat in 2020, let’s now run through what good marketing content for the platform involves, because creating content for WeChat is somewhat different from creating it for other platforms:
- It makes the best of the structure. Most social platforms have set layouts for their posts, and WeChat is no different. It closely resembles a blog post and you need to keep that in mind when optimizing it. Get to the point quickly, maintain the reader’s interest throughout, and finish strongly to earn presses of the “Wow” button.
- It’s purpose-driven and high-quality. Because the average piece of WeChat content isn’t going to be seen by that many people (unlikely something on Twitter that could get hundreds of thousands of impressions), it needs to serve a specific purpose when it is It might push a product, provide a brand update, mention a sale… and it needs to be high-quality, because weak content would really sully the attached brand.
- It’s optimized for in-app search. There is an internal search feature, and though it doesn’t get much use, it’s still worth taking into account. Following best SEO practices is adequate, which means including vital keywords in the title and headings.
Overall, then, we can expect 2020 to see more foreign businesses choose WeChat as a priority marketing platform, and they’ll likely invest in KOC relationships and paid advertising using new options. Their content will need to be high-quality to pay off, falling in line with the unique arrangement of the platform.