When in China, do as the Chinese do. International brands might understand that WeChat is an unescapable force in the China market, but many of them are still struggling to use the platform effectively. This Chinese-made and oriented social media platform that combines messaging, sharing and e-payment has a few new features that will re-define what it means to have a complete journey on a social media platform.
Figure-oriented vs. target-oriented
In the last few years, big brands have enjoyed the big numbers on WeChat, with some receiving as many as 20,000 likes for a single post. Figures such as these are great for a management team seeking numbers to put into their campaign reports. Some brands take a few shortcuts along the way, however, drafting eye-catching titles for their posts or sending gifts to fans.
But are these fans really the target audience? There are so many irrelevant figures and even fake numbers – so-called “shuifen”, in China. Yes, incentives work well in China, but brands should also have a strategic plan to bring the audience to their online or offline outlet to complete the journey started on WeChat.
A WeChat campaign that we at Sinclair Communications did for Pret-A-Manger Shanghai, for example, aimed to attract frequent coffee drinkers into stores. The campaign encouraged fans to upload a creative picture with a Pret coffee to Pret’s WeChat account to receive another free coffee – meaning customers obviously had to buy a coffee by physically accessing a store before they received a free drink.
KOLs vs. micro-influencers
After activating an audience to read your post by drafting a catchy title and story, the next step is to make people share their own WeChat moments. Having KOLs, so-called “wang hong” in China, share their WeChat moments is a tried, tested and traditional way to amplify a brand story.
But this model is one that is becoming less effective – online audiences in China are now more sensitive and skeptical and the cost of engaging a KOL with a big influence and great reputation is crazily high. Instead, working with micro-influencers is becoming an increasingly effective tool to maximise outreach to a target audience.
For example, if promoting a brand targeting university students, why not think about partnering with 10 famous university students instead of an expensive and un-relatable social media celebrity? The community and friends of your chosen micro-influencers are just like your target audience, speaking the same language while also being more natural, believable, affordable and authentic.
Social media journey vs. consumer journey
As an all-in-one platform, WeChat is very different to Facebook or other international social media platform. More integrated functionality means that WeChat is not only about one-off promotions, but long-term branding that can also include calls to action (stage plan). If your brand is only using its WeChat account to post nice pictures, funny videos and gimmicky stories to try and attract more likes or shares, you’re not making the most of your account. Your strategic road map should be more detailed than a normal social media journey – a complete journey of WeChat needs to create a link from your WeChat account to online and offline outlets to activate revenue for your brand.
Segmented strategy vs. integrated strategy
With WeChat being the most important communication channel in China right now, brands have invested a lot into growing a meaningful presence on this platform over last few years. But many have forgotten about other channels, such as media outreach, advertising and other digital platforms. While spending has shifted from traditional channels to social ones, now is the time to move forward to a more integrated approach. From the perspective of the audience, no channel is independent. The real ‘complete’ journey shows a unified brand identity across different channels, with a balance between social, digital and PR.
|Kevin Lam is a director at Sinclair Communications in Hong Kong|