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Opinion

Avoid wasting money on WeChat

Looking to crack the Chinese market via social media? Jun Zhou offers his insight.

When international companies first look at ways to enter the Chinese market, it often seems overwhelmingly complex. Thankfully, the landscape of social media in China is much simpler. With over one billion monthly active users, WeChat is the most popular platform in use, enabling companies to promote their brands by publishing articles, images and videos.

So, how can foreign SMEs kick-start their WeChat game?

First things first: save your money. By utilising WeChat, companies needn’t build a Chinese website, as the platform alone can serve your promotional purposes.

Creating content is always the biggest headache for companies on WeChat. A weekly update is enough, though. When setting up an account, plan your content calendar strategically. Do not miss any opportunities to promote your brand, such as Single’s Day and Chinese Valentine’s Day. These dates resonate with Chinese followers.

One significant difference from Western social media platforms is that the WeChat algorithm doesn’t suggest trending content. Therefore, good content won’t speak for itself. Spend at least 50 per cent of your budget on promotion. The most effective ways to gain new followers are using giveaways to encourage reposting and sharing your content on other partners’ accounts.

“By utilising WeChat, companies needn’t build a Chinese website.”

People in China use WeChat for work, and therefore you can easily turn your existing contacts into your first followers.

Furthermore, reconsider using add-on features, such as mini programs and e-shops, until you have a significant number of followers. These functions won’t easily drive sales. Don’t spend anything on targeted ads. The technology is not there yet. Do add WeChat QR code to all your marketing materials, however, as QR codes are ubiquitous in China.

Choosing the right agency to coordinate your WeChat presence is immensely important. Depending on the amount of work, an agency in China can easily charge over 2 500 euros per month. Keep in mind that the person who actually does the work normally receives a low salary and is under pressure to produce content. Choose your agency carefully based on the quality of its earlier content, or even consider hiring someone in your own city to coordinate your WeChat presence.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of social media in China. For most consumers, it can be the only thing they know about your brand.

Jun Zhou
Co-founder of Nordisto
14.11.2018