Making Money off your WeChat Friends

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WeChat has been officially commercializing its social space for a while now. However, when I talk to people in Beijing about advertising within the app, people do not immediately think of the large brands using WeChat to reach them. The official marketing tools that Tencent is now providing companies have not yet been fully used to make a deep impression on everyday WeChat users. Instead, the advertisements that people are most aware of are those created by individuals.

A Unique Opportunity for Micro-Business

The business of individual sellers is a very curious one. Essentially, it is confined to one friend selling to another. The way it works is that someone in your list of contacts finds a way of getting their hands on a special product not readily available in China (imported Korean cosmetics being a popular item). This person then makes a post that advertises their product on their Wechat Moments and, encourages all of their contacts to purchase from them.

One Wechat user offers a ‘daigou’ 代购 service to buy bags overseas on behalf of customers in China.

In this way, Wechat has become a huge platform for what is called “代购” – purchasing goods on someone else’s behalf. If you have a diverse friends group, this can be a wonderful way to get your hands on exotic fruit, specialty clothing or any number of other things.

One seller I interviewed (who prefers to stay anonymous) began selling on WeChat not from the perspective of creating income, but rather to provide a unique service to her friends. She travels frequently, to Australia, Korea, Europe and also domestically around China, and noticed that every time she went to a place her friends would ask her to purchase unique goods for them.

Healthcare products from Australia, cosmetics from Korea, jewelry from France and specialty foods from different regions of China are among the most popular items.

So now, before she goes anywhere, she puts out advertisements to her contacts via WeChat Moments – and waits as the orders come in.

Norwegian native Kristen Skar Forseth, regularly brings Nordic Light Omega-3 Norwegian Fish Oil and Krill Pills back from Tromso, Norway. She regularly posts photos to her network on WeChat moments and has since opened her own Weidian store under the name Artic Me to start selling specialty health products from Norway.

“I have high hopes for good sales on my WeChat and Weidian account. My wish is for each and every person in China to have access to clean, high quality products and acknowledge the importance of taking care of their body. I only sell products I use myself.”

In a way, Kristen has become the Norwegian health supplement “KOL”, or key opinion leader, for the products she is selling, since she represents the brand image of Norway and speaks from her own positive experience taking the pills.

Kristen Weidian WeChat moments

Norwegian native Kristen Skar Forseth posts on her Wechat moments about Nordic Light authentic Norwegian fish oil and krill omega-3 supplements from Norway. She has opened her own Weidian store under the name Artic Me

Nordic Light Pills

Foreign unique products like health supplements have become very popular for the Chinese 代购 industry, in which someone buys foreign goods on behalf of Chinese consumers. Nordic Light Krill and Fish Oils pills are one of many foreign health supplements available on Weidian.

The way in which individual sellers have naturally utilized the tools that Wechat provides shows the incredible influence that large brands will have when they have a strong presence within the app. Unlike many other social media apps and communication platforms, users of WeChat are accustomed to seeing this social media space as having a commercial component, even to the point where they use WeChat to make purchases.

To read about how big brands are using this social space for commercial purposes, check out Resonance China’s marketing reports.

About Author

Social Brand Watch (SBW) is a collection of experts in digital, mobile and social media in China. SBW was created to complement Resonance's China Social Branding Report, a bi-weekly report focusing on modern marketing methods of the world's top brands in China.

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