China may have hundreds of social media platforms but there is only one that most marketers are interested in. With a global monthly active user base of 938 million people, WeChat is impossible for marketers to ignore.
However, launching and maintaining an Official WeChat Account is not an easy process and it can represent a significant investment for brands long term. For many small and medium-sized businesses having an Official WeChat Account seems like a no-brainer, like having a Facebook page, but whether it is actually necessary depends on your business, your budgets and most importantly, your objectives.
UMS CEO Jessica Miao says before your company decide to launch an account on WeChat it is important to consider the objectives, to ensure there is a clear vision and manageable expectations.
“I always tell marketers you first need to ask yourself and your team:
Why do we want to launch a WeChat account?
What do we want to achieve with this account?
What will our target audience get out of this account?
How will WeChat help us to achieve our goals?
What sort of budget and ongoing resource can we allocate to this platform?”
An Official WeChat Account provides companies with a platform to not only connect with consumers, but also to create a two-way communication platform to share information, promote products and offers, collect data and insights into your audience as well as sell products using WeChat’s payment system, WeChat Pay.
There are two main ways that a company can use an Official WeChat Account, based on budget and resources.
The first is the Official WeChat Account as a Content Marketing Platform.
This is the approach that many big brands / corporations use for WeChat which requires the creation and posting of regular unique content designed to engage with audiences and encourage fans to buy their products and services.
Working with an agency like UMS, a company will have a dedicated team of copywriters, art designers, social planners, account managers and statistic analysts, who create campaigns, promotions and content calendars, as well as maintaining community management to ensure the brand stays top of mind with its fans and followers.
Miao says, “Obviously, this approach requires a lot of time, resources and budget to maintain and that is why many companies choose to hire agencies, like us, to manage the process for them. This way the company can bring experts on board to help create a strategy to ensure your brand establishes an effective presence on WeChat.”
If a company selects this approach, they will need someone – either an agency of a dedicated in-house professional – to manage the China market research and adapt global strategies and communications to ensure it resonates with the Chinese audience.
They will also be required to plan the monthly content calendar, create the content, publish it and manage any feedback from followers and your community. They will also manage the campaigns and promotions to help recruit fans and followers for your account.
They can also collect and analyse data and behavior from your fans to provide you with insights into what your followers want and enable you to make adjustments, where necessary, to further strengthen your strategy and content marketing.
This approach is effective for large brands and those with budgets and resources to dedicate to their WeChat account, however, this approach is not for every company.
Another option is the Official WeChat Account as a Customer Service platform.
This approach requires the establishment of the account to share information and basic service to ensure a presence on WeChat.
For this approach, a company can work with an agency, like UMS, to use a WeChat basic start-up package to register and launch the official account with brand information and basic tools and automation. This way a company can then choose to manage the platform for themselves, creating their own content and undertaking community management.
Miao says, “This approach requires less money and resources and enables a company to choose how they wish to manage the account on an ongoing basis, this gives them room to scale up content or scale things back in line with promotions and key seasons.”
Using this approach companies can select to use the account as a mini-website, linking content on the WeChat account to their website and republishing content from other platforms, such as newsletters, Facebook pages etc, onto the WeChat account.
This approach also enables the company to use the WeChat account as a customer service platform to respond to consumer enquiries and questions and communicate with fans. Another option is to use the account for ecommerce, setting it up as an online shop and using WeChat Pay for payments.
All of these options involve varying degrees of time, resources and budget, however these examples highlight the many flexible options that are available to companies using Official WeChat Accounts.
With so many options for companies and brands to connect with Chinese consumers the best pathway to success is to ensure that you consider your strategy and objectives and take the time to select the best method for your brand.