WeChat, unlike Weibo or other social media like Instagram or Facebook, is a more private platform so sometimes it might not be as easy to get followers organically. You can’t just search for a product or service on WeChat and get what you want easily because you have to know the brand name or WeChat account name. Hence, brands out there often have to plan more strategically and work harder to make their account visible to their target audience.
But before you start on any marketing campaigns on WeChat, it is advisable for you to know your own target audience in order to fully maximise your returns. For example, what kind of groups or accounts would be interested in what you have to offer? It is only after you know this that you can plan your WeChat promotion strategies.
After this, you can look at achieving a good ROI on WeChat, China’s most used social media platform. How do you do this? Here are a number of ways.
WeChat Promotion Strategies
(1) Push Out Scannable WeChat QR Codes
Create a company WeChat QR code that you can embed in as many places as you can, so that when someone scans the code, they can immediately find and follow your WeChat corporate account.
Most importantly, and there’s a trick here, go deep into the demographics of your target customers and think about which channels or platforms they will use and where they hang out most actively. After you’ve identify your channels, test them and see which one works best for you.
Some of the places that you can embed your WeChat QR code includes your physical products, product packaging, exhibition booths or trade show booths, marketing materials such as brochures, postcards, name cards, discount coupons, lucky draws, souvenirs, email newsletters, print advertisements on newspapers and magazines, or even your other social media accounts such as Weibo, Dianping, or even your own company website or blog.
Also, you can explore becoming an article writer to blogs, websites, newspapers or magazines that are related to your business. At the same time, see if they allow you to embed your company QR code in these materials when introducing your company.
You might also want to make your QR code more personalised and fun by choosing an icon or style that fits your brand image. For instance, if you sell hats, you might want to make your QR code in the shape of a hat. There are many software for you to map out your customised QR code, and you can choose from a variety of themes.
The more places that you can place your WeChat QR code, the more your account will become visible and you will get more followers.
(2) Create Interesting and Useful Content for Your Industry
For you to create content that your audience thinks are interesting and useful, you first need to know them thoroughly and know what they want and need. To know this, you could find related forums in your industry or some specific Q&A sites and go through the questions that they are asking.
For example, some sites such as Quora or China’s Zhihu (知乎) have people asking all sorts of questions, and others like BuzzSumo, ContentStudio are able to generate the content that gets the most shares and buzz on social media, so it is very likely you will find some interesting nuggets of information there for you to know your target customers more. Though these sites are mostly in English and the answers generally from the Western audience, you can use them as a general guide to find out more about what your target Chinese audience likes or wants.
How then do you next create amazing content? It all boils down to this simple strategy:
[What the audience wants/needs or It solves their problem] + [A Headline that incites curiosity and emotion] + [Relevant and your own images/videos]
This formula almost always works. Find out what your audience’s problems are, and answers them in your content, making it unique, with your own photos and videos, if possible. Use unique examples and real-life stories from your own industry so that your audience can relate to them. You may sometimes like to use audio examples or interviews to spice up your content a little.
Finally, remember to embed your WeChat QR code into your content at all time.
(3) Develop Membership or Loyalty Programs
Memberships and loyalty programs are part and parcel of any effective marketing strategy to maintain a long-term relationship with your customers. You can create membership or loyalty programs for your business on WeChat by using geo-location services to locate potential customers and push out offers or promotion packages when they are near your shops.
These include offering them very attractive WeChat promotion tactics or discounts, giving them e-coupons that they can use in your stores, exclusive seasonal sales, or even a VIP card when they visit your stores at a specific time through WeChat. Occasionally, you might also want to offer some educational information or tutorials for your customers to engage them further.
Chinese consumers love to accumulate points for purchasing the things that they love or need to use and this is what makes them more likely to stick to one brand. Offer them more perks or gifts for referring your products or services to their circle of friends and they will likely be more enthusiastic in also sharing your business around.
With so many brands competing for attention, it has become the norm to expect some sort of loyalty perks or discounts when customers purchase more or on a regular basis. This is confirmed by a study by Collinson Group, which states that successful loyalty programs are vital for brand engagement with affluent middle-class consumers in China, with up to 72% of them regarding themselves as engaged members of loyalty programs. What’s important to note is that 89% of the respondents in China agreed that such a program makes them want to spend more.
Do something out of the ordinary to retain and reward your customers and you can capture more followers and fans on WeChat.
(4) Create Special WeChat Marketing Campaigns
A very effective WeChat promotion strategy is to create engagement through special WeChat marketing campaigns such as flash sales, competitions, online live events, surveys, polls or quizzes. Tencent does not currently allowed you to give incentives to fans for sharing your story or promotion, but it’s still alright to encourage fans to comment and interact with one another on WeChat itself. Here are some key ideas for you to explore.
You could also run a one-hour flash sale through your WeChat account. With this, it might be better for you to run some WeChat advertisements just to further promote this one-hour flash sale, just to get more awareness and share among your community. However, please ensure that your sale is good enough for anyone to want to share it or follow you, and for any customers to want to buy it on impulse.
Another idea is to offer free gifts that your customers can redeem at your office or physical outlets in China. This WeChat promotion strategy has been used by big brands such as Gillette, Pampers, Cover Girl etc. very often as they give out many samples, with many customers also staying at the shops longer and buying more things. Also, don’t forget to broadcast your free gift and seed your QR code all over your shops so that your customers will scan it and connect with you online, thereby increasing your fan base.
Some businesses and big brands such as Kate Spade are using gamification on WeChat to interact with their customers and create more brand awareness. Its Mid-Autumn Festival sky lantern-flying game allows customers to choose the lantern’s colour, write wishes and greetings on it, and then release it into the sky, just like what they do in China, but online this time. Interactivity functions, as well as free gifts, are built into it to further increase the chances of sharing and winning prizes.
(5) The Power of WeChat Minisites
To better interact and engage with your fans, it is good to setup a WeChat minisite. (We wrote an article on WeChat minisites before, here’s the information.)
This will allow you an avenue to provide your customers with more information about your products and/or services, as well as let them know about any promotions, offers or contests. Maintain a professional corporate page and upload all your information about your company, products and/or services, plus a corporate brochure. You can even setup a live chat function to chat with your customers if you have a customer service team to manage it.
(6) Reach Out to Other WeChat Account Owners
If you connect with other influencers on other social media platforms, it also makes sense for you to also connect with other WeChat account owners. Look for WeChat account owners in the same industry as you and check if they would like to partner together for some activities or promotions.
In particular, fashion and luxury brands accounts such as Dior, Louis Vuitton and Gucci have many fans in China, and it might be worth your while, if your brand has a synergy with them, to explore a partnership. One disadvantage to this is that WeChat accounts with a high number of followers are usually very expensive to engage and you can’t really predict the ROI after the campaign.
Some examples of successful WeChat promotion strategies and marketing campaigns include companies like McDonald’s and Burberry which have been sharing engaging content through their WeChat official accounts, with contests, free gifts, live runway shows, audio commentaries and more.
WeChat is now the go-to platform for any business who wants to engage with the Chinese audience in China. As a result, it is very important for you to choose the correct WeChat promotion strategies for your business in order to gain a foothold in the country.
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