Hi Doctor Digital, I’ve had a few of my Chinese customers ask if I’m on WeChat. Should I be?

Doctor Digital Says

Short answer: 是 [yes]. WeChat may not be as well known in Australia as it is in China, but imagine all of the adjectives that describe things that are completely massive, bundled together - that describes the power, impact and influence of WeChat. WeChat is more than a social media channel in China, it is a way of life and simply everyone from grandmas to hipsters use it for simply everything. If you have any interest at all in engaging with the Chinese market or communicating with Chinese customers, then read on.

WeChat is a mobile messaging application with features similar to its competitors such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The aim is to communicate with people you know (friends, family…) and want to know (leads, prospects…) using text, video, voice or image. But WeChat is so much more: it lets you do everything at once. Order a cab? Yes. Pay Bills? Yes. Book airline tickets? Purchase products? Yes, and Yes. WeChat is everything you’ve ever dreamed of in a mobile app.

A verified official WeChat account allows companies to promote their products through high quality content, enabling companies to engage their audience and convert them into real customers. Not only can companies send offers to their target audience, but they can also encourage the creation of a community around its brand, which is one of the powerful functions of WeChat, where groups relating to specific brands and products are common, and a cluster of eager evangelists await. There are two official business accounts a company can use, a Subscription Account and a Service Account, both have their merits, so before you set up, do your research to get the one that is right for you. If you want to communicate frequently you might lean towards a subscription account.  If you want to get serious about transacting, then you need a service account where you can set up a store and “wallet”.

And did I mention it is BIG? Wechat has more than 10 million official accounts, and 866 million active users. Shopping on a smart device is seamless using WeChat as it offers a “wallet” feature that links a person's profile to their bank account or credit card, making purchases possible via a Smartphone. Some 200 million users have already connected their credit cards to their account and more than 83% of WeChat users buy products online. These purchases can be made either directly on the app, or offline by scanning a QR code that allows payment via the app.

QR codes are a big thing on WeChat. They are a way of life in China because they allow fast and fuss-free access to a wealth of content, ranging from special offers, product information, and reviews. Chinese consumers love them because of their convenience, as well as the option to instantly connect with a seller and receive new updates. We haven’t quite got the hang of them in Australia, but in Asia, QR codes are everything. (A QR code is a 2D barcode that integrates encoding information.) On WeChat, by scanning a QR code, you can add new contacts, connect your WeChat account to your computer or validate your loyalty card at the store’s checkouts. WeChat generates your own personal QR code when you sign up, like a business card you can scan with other users. So integrated.

If you’re groaning at the thought of having to learn another social media channel, remember that the great firewall in China blocks Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, so WeChat is your best portal to being able to do everything for everyone in one simple, single channel. It’s China’s version of Facebook in terms of reach (but much more functional) and it is beginning to reach out and influence the way we do business in Australia and Tasmania. And given WeChat owner Tencent has just released an outbound advertising button to redirect Chinese nationals coming to Australia, our capacity to tap into the WeChat lifestyle is better than ever. WeChat is a worthwhile core marketing tool and a gateway to the massive Chinese market that non-Chinese marketers should definitely get acquainted with. If you want to play with the biggest market in the world, you better get WeChatting.

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