I’ve been back and forth between China and the USA for a good many years and in that time many things have changed on how I have been able to communicate between the 2 countries. It used to be the good old wired landline (and lots of long distance charges!), then to Microsoft MSN Messenger (is that around any more?), then to Skype and now the last couple of years it is using Wechat. Wechat is an mobile phone based instant messaging App like none other. One of the leading Apps in China at 750 million users it has a plethora of features from online banking, video calling, instant messaging etc etc. But just like any other powerful tool, it also has some interesting unintended uses that are just being discovered and explored. In fact, a friend leveraged a Wechat feature to meet new people and in a short 30 days was married!
So what are the secrets of Wechat marketing? Lets take a look at how to use some of the features that are being used today to reach customers:
- People NearBy: this is a location awareness feature that allows you to browse people that are nearby you. If you are in the mood to chat or send some interesting information then this is the way you can do it. In the US, there are many established dating apps like eHarmony, PlentyOfFish, match.com and new entrants like Tinder, League Dating app etc. Putting together Wechcat with more robust “dating funnel” features from these other Apps would certainly be an interesting “habit forming” feature.
- QR Code scanning: walking down a road in Shanghai I noticed a table where there were a bunch of excited people looking at their phone playing with an App and eating oranges. It turns out distribution of Apps in China is not typically done online (like the App stores or through online ads) but actually is physically done by setting up a table and giving away food to people in exchange for downloading the App. The QR scanner feature on Wechat allows App developers to easily get peoples’ account information quickly and also allows the user to be exposed instantly to the App in exchange for some goodies. Win-win!
- Company Groups: online business communication and group communication is now primarily done through Wechat. These group chats allow people to seamlessly communicate on any issue instantly. It also allows companies to setup their own private group, which people to subscribe to and get updates from the business. I’ve personally seen dozens of such groups setup on people’s accounts.
With all the marketing noise in China it is a never ending battle to capture the attention of the Chinese consumer. Wechat is certainly a key marketing platform to any business trying to grab a piece of that attention.