WeChat Disruption – How to make an impact?

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WeChat is all the rage in China with a user base approaching 700 million users.  However it is really important to look at how the platform is structured to ensure optimal engagement with Chinese consumers.

Often people assume because something is digital it is somehow groundbreaking or superior to other formats.  These stereotypes can often cloud thinking about social marketing, as often brands will assume “on digital” will automatically make them relevant and interesting.   If only things were this easy – launch a WeChat account, and  connect with thousands, if not, millions of Chinese consumers.

At Resonance China and SMART, we look at China’s social networks with an objective lens, with the motto – drop all assumptions.  When looking at Tencent’s WeChat – the increasing pivot in brands’ digital marketing in China – we notice a high level of uniformity in content.   For brands facing an increasingly consolidated and competitive market, there are clear implications for establishing a differentiated positioning in the market.

Most brands have a subscription or service accounts with WeChat that either allow them to post a limited number of posts per month, or an unlimited number per month.   However if we were to print out screenshots of brand posts (articles) on WeChat, we would discover that they all follow the exact same format – a title, and image, and then text.  It would be akin to a library where all the books used the same typeface of New York Times and all books were printed to exactly the same size and dimension.

In the real world it would seem unacceptably uniform and emotionless, but somehow on WeChat –  a digital platform – this uniformity is expected to miraculously communicate multi-layered brand stories.

It is not until you consider this way, that the importance of disrupting on WeChat is logical to creating strong consumer engagement in China.

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Example of a uniform WeChat post (Omega)

If everyone is doing the same format of posts, then how do you differentiate/disrupt?

While we pride ourselves on creating differentiated (research informed) digital campaigns for our clients, here are some ways to create more impact with your WeChat marketing in China

  • Break up the bulletin It is not the 19th century, why do you expect mobile consumers to be reading bulletin upon bulletin, break the idea of being a news provider, and create a conversation instead.  Make your WeChat posts interactive, asking consumers to engage with the message as a participant.  Quite simply that will create a completely different relationship between the reader and the content, creating interest to continue the dialogue a latter points (the first steps to consumer loyalty begins with this type of WeChat story telling).
  • Create an conduit WeChat alone can only do so much.  Use it to seed information and drive consumers to a more bespoke experience.  There are different ways to do this, at Resonance we construct HTML5 platforms to tell their stories in a more intimate way rather than a generic post-after-post thread.   For example, we helped on client sell million dollar watches by allowing users to reconstruct and put-back-togehter the watch’s parts within the app, to gain an appreciation of the precision engineering that went into each piece.
  • Don’t be square A staggering reality of WeChat, as mentioned, is the uniformity of posts featured on the platform.  Quite simply, it is important to vary and redesign this format to drive your brand story.  For Resonance China, the starting point is not the uniform post template, it is the communication plan, brand story and consumer insight we want to deliver through the campaign  – so in this context, we have started to reimagine how content can be delivered on WeChat in a more cut-through manner.  Quite simply, creating different perspectives, angles and spaces, so the same-old WeChat posts are a thing of the past.

WeChat is a medium to be treated as a strategic opportunity, not a given result.
Through competitor benchmarking, co-creation, research, and innovation;
we ensure our WeChat management is always cutting through the uniformity others are content with.

Call or email for presentation of our “out-of-the-box” case studies.

 

About Author

Jerry Clode

Jerry Clode is Head of Digital & Social Insight at Resonance. He leads Resonance SMART, providing leading-edge research, strategy and naming for brands in China using bespoke methodologies. Jerry also produces Resonance's popular China Social Branding Report, a bi-weekly publication covering modern marketing methods of the world's top brands.

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