Are you a business looking to market in China? Want to take it beyond simple market research and personal Wechat accounts?
Then today’s guide is perfect for you. We are going to go into various tools and strategies for leveraging the true power of a Wechat Official Account.
What is a Wechat Official Account (OA)?
First, you may not even be aware of Official Accounts in Wechat. They are the equivalent of a Facebook page. Meaning, anyone can “follow it” without needing to do a “friend request”. Also, like Facebook personal accounts, you have a friend limit on a personal account of 5,000 friends. It also can create “posts” that other Wechat users can easily re-share.
So the gist about it is – if you’re serious about growing a fanbase in China, an official account in Wechat is the way to go.
Please note, that to open a Wechat Official Account that can “reach” Chinese users (Mainland China) you need to set it up with a local Chinese company. If you open it up with a non-Chinese company, you’ll get an official account, but it won’t be able to reach local Chinese people (crazy, I know – because most users are Chinese!). This is due to where the servers are based and the Chinese policies on filtering the information that Chinese users can see (let’s not get too political here, we’re a business blog!).
Research The Wechat Official Account Content
Like any good marketer, you need to do your market research before diving in head first creating content. Check who your competitors are and what kind of content they are creating.
You can even see how many people are viewing and liking that content by opening up each Wechat Official Account content page and scrolling to the bottom.
So where should you go to do Wechat official account content market and keyword research?
A search engine called Sogou. Its partly owned by the parent company of Wechat, called Tencent, and does this on purpose. They want Sogou to be the only official search engine for WeChat account content and it has become an indispensable WeChat tool for market research. Please note that wechat official account content is not indexed in Baidu or Google – Similar to Facebook, Wechat’s trying to be a walled garden and keep all the content inside its own ecosystem.
Now that we finished that rant – what you’re going to do is put in keywords and other industry terms and competitor names to find out what the market is talking about. See what articles are hot, and which are not. Write down your main competitors in Wechat and make a plan of how to create better content.
This will be a research tool you should come back to again and again.
Format The Design Of Your Wechat Official Account Posts
Design is critical to standing out, in Wechat as well as anywhere in the noisy social media world we live in today.
The backend of Wechat official accounts is similar to a WordPress or any CMS (content management system) where you can create posts and check comments and other engagement and stats.
But the basic editor they give you is pretty limiting.
Don’t let that stop you! Leverage third party services such as Xiumi to have your content stand out from the competition.
With WYSIWYG (what you see if what you get) editor and plenty of templates to get started, check it out when making your posts.
One strategy I do is I still have it posted in my WordPress post, and then have the team in China help with formatting it and localizing it for China and the Wechat Official Account. Make it a 2 step process.
Create Splash Pages with H5 (HTML5)
Want to make a special campaign that stands out? H5, or HTML5, is how you can create a sort of “invitation” for users to open up a mini site. These can be loaded up with music, images, animations, and more. This is used quite frequently for event invitations and other special events.
When someone receives it, they open it up and slide up or down to go to the next page (or action) in the h5 series.
In my experience, foreigners don’t open these up and use them – but they are normal for the Chinese user on Wechat. It is a great way to make a nice impression on a formal event. I’m not a fan of auto-play music, but many Chinese H5 campaigns I see have it.
Tap Into QR Codes
American and other places around the world still have not embraced the power of the QR code, but here in China they are all the rage.
Once you have your Wechat Official Account, you will have a QR code where users can simply scan and follow.
Tip: People don’t need 2 phones to scan a QR code on their screen, simply long press on the QR code and it will ask you if you’d like to scan the QR code.
QR codes are the new links. Also filling the buzzword O2O (online to offline) – a QR code bridges physical goods with the internet and mobile app ecosystem.
Design posters and banners with the QR code inside. Bring them to events, and put them on your business card. If you do a physical product, design it in your product packaging.
The QR code is like your domain name is in the West. This is the first thing people will look for / ask for when interested to learn more about your business.
A more advanced trick is to have different QR codes for different campaigns. You can generate a unique QR code that has the same function / action as following your Wechat official account, and then only use that QR code on your website, for example. Then you can check the analytics and see which QR code is giving you the best results (ROI).
Smart marketers will use this to measure various marketing channels and paid marketing campaigns. Focus on what works, and cut back those which are a waste of your budget by having these unique QR codes.
What is a service that does this? Cli.im is one of the main QR code generators for Wechat, but there is a plethora of others on the web today.
Run Surveys, Contests, and Grow Your Engagement
Interact with your audience. Don’t just push them content.
How to get more interaction and engagement?
The best way is to run a survey and collect information and ideas from your current fans or friends. Like a surveymonkey or Google forms in the west, Wechat and the chinese internet ecosystem has various tools you can use to collect feedback and data from your fans.
Share these on your Wechat official account, use them as a call to action (CTA) at the bottom of your blog posts (articles) and encourage people to interact with you and give you more feedback about what they’d like to hear from you.
It goes without saying, good marketing is about listening. Don’t say you don’t know what your market wants, engage with them and create fun and interactive “games” where you then share the research back to your fans after they submit the feedback.
What are some survey tools to use in Wechat? The main one is Mikecrm.com (no, it’s not mine!) where you can create surveys and other interactive campaigns for your followers.
Host Offline Events
In China, offline (real-life) events still seem like the most effective way to engage with your audience. Maybe it’s the culture, or the trust, or just the seeing you and your company face to face that pushes them over the edge to become your super fan – but I highly recommend doing events to grow your brand in China.
And remember earlier in this article we talked about O2O? Online to offline – and during your own OFFLINE event leverage this buzzword to grow your ONLINE following.
Make CTA Opt Ins (Lead Magnets)
Similar to the west (even this website – you can subscribe to our newsletter here) you want to capture a “subscriber” that is attracted to your content.
Except in China – no one uses email. The opt-in is to get the person to follow your official account.
But – who really wants to do that?
You gotta give them a reason. So similar to getting website visitors to opt-in – you give the Wechat visitors a downloadable item in exchange for following your account.
The idea is to use something like Pptplus.cn and then people can get the slides from your presentation, or an eBook after following. You set it up so that it automatically sends a “welcome message” in your Official Account with the link / directions on how to get that premium “content upgrade”.
So for those familiar with using opt-ins to get emails, transfer that knowledge and strategy from emails to Wechat OA (official account) subscribers – and then deliver that “bait” in an automatic welcome message to new subscribers to your list. You can also set it so that the new subscriber needs to send a keyword to your official account and then you automatically deliver the upgraded content.
Marketing a Wechat Official Account Is Unique
I hope today’s overview of growing your Wechat official account was helpful. It is a bit different from a website or other Western social media. The main goal is to “keep everything inside of Wechat”. I have heard some people even say they are driving external traffic from other Chinese social media sites into Wechat, and then use Wechat to build the long term relationship and then “sell” them over time.
Basically, like many Western marketers use Email – drive everything in the end to email / wechat to “CRM” (build a relationship) with them over time, build trust, and ultimately sell them something you have to offer.
Easier said than done! What are some of your Wechat Official Account marketing tips and tricks? I’d love to hear it in the comment section below.