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How WeChat for Business Works – An Introduction

Tencent’s brainchild WeChat is by far the most popular social networking platform in China and for good reason. WeChat allows users to do everything from pay their bills to book movie tickets to market their business. For people living in China, it serves as a convenient one-stop solution, fulfilling their personal as well as professional needs. The multi-purpose app boasts over 1 billion active users. Naturally, this makes it the ideal place to market one’s business either directly in China or to Chinese overseas that continue to use this lifeline of an app. Let’s have a look at how you can leverage WeChat's marketing platform and use it to grow your business, reaching more Chinese consumers.

What is WeChat Marketing?

WeChat was first launched in 2011 by Tencent as a messaging platform. Along with providing the conventional messaging service, it lets individuals enter the Chinese market by letting them create a “WeChat Official Account” to promote and run their business. Through a WeChat Official Account, you can communicate with your Chinese audience, sell products, offer promotions, and much more. To a large extent, WeChat marketing is about adding followers to your account and converting them into active customers.

BMW China's Official WeChat Account
BMW China's Official WeChat Account

Different Types of Accounts

There are three types of WeChat accounts: (1) Subscription accounts, (2) Service accounts, (3) Enterprise accounts. For the purpose of this post, we'll briefly talk about the differences between Subscription and Service accounts. A WeChat Subscription account focuses mainly on brand awareness. Posts appear in the Subscription folder with no push notification. This type of account allows you to only send 1 message per day to subscribers. Service accounts, on the other hand, appear similar to a friend's post in your WeChat feed. They offer more visibility and allow you to send up to 4 messages per month, posting 1-6 articles each time. Once a post is published through a service account, it appears as a push notification to your audience. In future posts, we'll dive more into the pros vs. cons of these two accounts.

WeChat Account Types: Subscription and Service
WeChat Account Types: Subscription and Service

How to Register a WeChat Official Account

To register a WeChat official account, you need: (1) a Chinese Business License, (2) a Chinese ID, (3) a WeChat payment account. If you don’t have a Chinese Business License, you can register a WFOE (Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise). A WFOE is a privately owned LLC in China with all the shareholders being foreign. The process of registering a WFOE in China is neither time nor cost-effective. However, it provides you with full control and autonomy over your company. This option is more suited for medium to large businesses that plan to hire people.

Another Option: Borrow a Third-Party Business License

In China, companies are allowed to register 50 WeChat accounts. This means that you can borrow a business license from a local Chinese company and run your WeChat business through that license. You are still free to pick your account name and logo. However, the legal name of the Chinese company will appear on the account. This is by far the most common way companies in North America set up an Official WeChat Account to reach local or China-based audiences.

How to Sell on WeChat

Once your official account is set up, the next step in WeChat marketing is to figure out how to get your service or product out to the customer. Here, you have two options: (1) build your own WeChat website or (2) use an existing WeChat shop platform. The WeChat store is just a website that is specifically curated to work with WeChat. This makes buying, selling, paying, and everything in between a lot easier for WeChat users. One way to use this versatile platform for your business needs is to build your own website and integrate it with the WeChat API. While a great option, this does require some time, effort, and money to bring to fruition as you would need developers that are familiar with the WeChat ecosystem.

There are a lot of existing platforms to create a WeChat shop. This option enables you to get started much faster and for cheaper. You can use platforms like Weidian, JingDong, and LeWaiMai to create your own WeChat store and sell your products to a wide customer base.

WeChat is an amazing tool if you want to get started with the Chinese market and grow your business exponentially. But before you do that, you need to know how to reach the right audience and keep them engaged by following marketing best practices. One of your first goals after getting your business set up on WeChat is to keep your audience’s attention so that they can eventually turn into paying customers. Let’s have a look at the different strategies you can use for that purpose.

WeChat Content Marketing

One of the best ways to take your WeChat marketing to the next level is to put out meaningful and creative content about your brand and products. Great quality content leads to increased visibility as more people are bound to interact with your content if they find it useful or interesting. An effective way to get the word out for your brand is to use influencer marketing. Known as KOLs in China, these are individuals who have a significant following on the platform. They can use their huge presence on WeChat to increase your brand awareness and bring in customers. They do this by praising your product and consequently, sharing a link to your brand’s account. Or by offering their unique discount codes to your products to their followers.

Location-Based Marketing is another great way of boosting engagement target ads to a specified location. These ads are specifically tailored to the users’ location and preferences. You can then offer special discounts or deals based on those preferences. QR code sits at the front and center of WeChat engagement. When you register for an official WeChat account, you will be given a QR code. Make full use of that QR code by sharing it in as many places as possible. The moment someone scans your QR code, they will automatically become a subscriber.

Showcase Vancouver's Official WeChat Account
Showcase Vancouver's Official WeChat Account

In Summary...

WeChat is a powerhouse of an app and is surely worth the time and effort to for any business wanting to attract more Chinese consumers. The app provides you with a diverse range of options to market, run, and earn money from your business. It's a great tool that empowers you with the freedom to take your business to new heights and explore your brand’s potential in the Chinese social market.


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