VD38: Social Media In China: WeChat

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As you might know, I’ve been busy traveling all over Asia. Currently, I’m in Bangkok recuperating from my non-stop traveling. It’s been a wild ride so far, and not spending enough time in each city has made it a blur, so it feels good to stay put in Thailand for a while.

Before I came to Bangkok, I spent some time in China where I learned about the super-powered social and marketing platform called WeChat. Today, I want to share my learnings about social media in China and how WeChat can expand for your market outreach.

After spending three weeks in China, I got completely addicted to WeChat. I have been joking with my friends in China that WeChat should hire me to pimp their app in the US and Europe (WeChat, if you are listening, the offer still stands). What I love about WeChat is that it’s an all-in-one app: think Uber meets Paypal meets Instagram (with shopping capabilities) meets Whatsapp… It’s incredible!

Now, if you asked me whether you should as a business consider getting into WeChat, I’d answer with a strong YES. Here’s some information on why and how you can take advantage of this impressive application:

1) WeChat has 438 million monthly active users. It’s slowly catching-up to Whatsapp’s 450 million active users. Countries and cities actively using WeChat include China, Hong Kong, and Singapore with more catching on the WeChat wave, such as South Africa.

WeChat can basically act as your first gateway into China. Setting up an account can provide you with insight on demographics. Eventually, as your account grows, you will need a Mandarin-speaking community manager, but I would only invest in the following once you have a considerable amount of engagement.

2) WeChat includes e-commerce capabilities. All you have to do is scan the barcode on the back on any product using the QRcode scanner feature, and WeChat will direct you to the e-commerce site for the product where you can compare prices between competitors. Take that, Instagram (ha!) – I know Instagram is strictly a photo platform, but still…

WeChat facilitates for brands like Zalora, a fashion e-commerce giant in Southeast Asia to sell directly to customers on the WeChat platform.

The Chinese population loves mobile payments: as a matter of fact, this Chinese New Year, WeChat promoted a “Red Envelope” feature which allowed users to send money directly to their family and friends. Users sent a staggering 20 million cash-filled envelopes in just two days! If that doesn’t prove that mobile payment in China is huge, I don’t know what does.

3) How to open a WeChat marketing account: The app used to be closed for businesses outside of China; you needed a Chinese residence ID and business profile. Now, you can create a business by going to APPLY.WECHAT.COM where you can submit information about your business and WeChat will get back to you about your approval process.

The reason it’s not so straight forward to open a WeChat business account is that China tries to protect its user base by ensuring all businesses listed on their app are legit. Fair enough.

If you have more questions about social media in China, simply add them in the comment section.

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