WeChat Essentials – 10-point checklist for your brand in China


As WeChat comes close to 700 million users, the importance of the phone messaging-app is obvious for brands in China.  WeChat is increasingly the primary touchpoint of brands’ consumer-engagement strategy in China – the fulcrum of creating awareness, engagement, purchase intent, and ultimately, brand advocacy.

Considering the essentialness of WeChat in China, we have put our heads together to give you a logical ten-point checklist –  to make sure you get WeChat right from the get-go!

1 – Service or Subscription?

There are two types of WeChat accounts for brands – service and subscription.  It is essential to chose the right one.  It is not just that service limits you to four posts a month, and that subscription allows you to post daily.

There are also fundamental considerations of whether you can build-in CRM functions, and the essential point of how your Brand WeChat account appears to local consumers – as a friend or filed as a part of the corporates.

This is not a simple choice, but an essential strategic decision that needs to be thought through carefully as part of your overall brand strategy and digital ecosystem in China.

2 – I.D. Yourself

Your WeChat I.D. is essentially your name and the way that consumers find you.   The dynamics of WeChat mean you need to be searchable and findable, otherwise you will be left out in the wilderness without any friends.  Key considerations;  is your WeChat I.D.  in Chinese or English? is it a combination?  does it follow the brand name? the sub-brand? or the campaign name?

All essential  questions that need to be thought through first, rather than during the process of building your WeChat account.

3 – Uniform or Unique?

Currently WeChat posts (or articles) follow a stock-standard format and lay-out.  As part of your WeChat planning and strategy it is essential to think carefully about the browsing experience you want your consumers to have, and the brand story you are want to impart.  Both should contribute to the way you structure, present and animate your WeChat content.

4 – Don’t Translate

Too many international brands in China use their WeChat account to simply re-publish their global content into Chinese.  In the context of rising WeChat fatigue, this feels a strategy that creates a sense of distance with local consumers and suggests that brands are using WeChat as a hygiene factor, rather than valuing it as an opportunity to create a conversation with consumers.

You need to tell a  local story on your WeChat to create engagement!

5 – Offer an Experience!

Too often WeChat is used as a broadcast sheet, with the brand talking in a top-down, one-directional manner.  WeChat offers, and will increasingly offer, the opportunity to create an interactive engagement with consumers – an experience of the brand and its story.

This is not necessarily about creating interactive experiences through HTML5, it can simply be the tonality and the way you are getting consumers to engage with your brand content.  Consumers should feel they have ‘entered-into’ the brand, rather than passively consumed information.

6 – In the “Moment”?

WeChat Moment Advertising is becoming an increasingly important consideration for brands.  This is advertising that features within the moments of WeChat users.   The investment is higher than other forms of online banner ads.

However done in the correct way – strong brand message and story – brands can make a powerful impact in the context of consumers’ interactions on WeChat.  Be in the moment!

7 – Know your WeChat-ters?

Often the close to 700 million WeChat users are conveniently considered equal – an obvious nonsense.  Before launching/re-launching your WeChat, think, who do I want to engage with?

Each demographic within WeChat uses and interacts with WeChat differently.   To capture this reality for clients, we have started using WeChat as a research tool to understand how brands can more seamlessly interact with local consumers on the platform.  What we are finding is a clearly segmented approach to WeChat greatly enhances the relevancy, interaction and ultimately the sharing of brand content on the platform.

8 – Strategize, and then Build

A simple error made my so many brands, is building their WeChat in bits-and-pieces – creating a incoherent WeChat ecosystem and CRM extension.

To prevent such a train wreck for your brand –  do the thinking before you do the building.   This way, the structure and experience of your WeChat is consistent with your brand story and your offline touch points – WeChat as part of a brand 360 effect.

9 – Are you in the Game?

A key to optimal engagement on WeChat is consumer interaction with your brand.  Gamification – that is using game-like interactions – has proven popular with WeChatters.   But the key is to avoid creating games for the sake of making games.

Gamification must be inline with your the key messages/relationships you are aiming to convey – being a cute entertainer is not going to create the desired brand effect.   While WeChat is clamping down on independent games within the platform,  strategic gamification of your brand message is still possible, and an effective way to maximise engagement/memorability.

10 – Timing is everything

A basic, but often overlooked, issue is when to post content on WeChat.  While some unwritten rules have emerged, these may not be correct for your brand.

Once again, understanding the digital behaviour of your target consumers through SMART research is always a … SMART choice.  This way, we know when to post, so the message hits your consumers when they most want to see and engage with it, and importantly, it is not ‘crowded out’ by the messaging of your competitors or other digital activities that form part of their day.

These are ten of the fundamental considerations to add to your WeChat Watchlist.
They form a fundamental part of Resonance China’s philosophy on brand success in China.

For more of our famous Ten-pointers – check out our Ten Commandments from last week – download here.


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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