More than a decade ago, Chinese social media such as Weibo, RenRen, WeiXin(WeChat) were known to be the “Chinese version” of Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. They were merely seen as copy-cats, which were neither inspiring nor threatening.
Nowadays, the table has turned - Western social media channels are envious of what their Chinese counterparts can do. In Q3 2016, WeChat averaged 846m monthly active users according to China Internet Watch. Fifty percent of WeChat users use the app for at least 90 minutes per day, communicating, ordering food, calling for a taxi and shopping.
Western brands that want to succeed in the Chinese market make good localised social media strategies an absolute priority.
These really thoughtful and beautifully crafted campaigns on WeChat by Western brands, such as Burberry, Coach, Montblanc and British Airways may have given us the 4 winning ingredients that are crucial to opening the hearts (and purses) of WeChatters in China.
1. Give your audience tissue paper and make them cry!
Global social media successes craft stories for their audiences so they can lose themselves in another world. While the West love stories that portray self-struggle and dream-catching, Asian audience are known to love tear-jerking storylines about love and losses. A love story entwined with family drama or a story that involves sickness and goodbye, or like this British Airways WeChat campaign, about homesickness, is evergreen.
Don’t lecture your audience; let them play! Competitions and gamification keep your audience engaged and they care about winning, no matter how slim the chance and how small the prize!
3. Don’t be shy - ask for my number
When I was working in China as a marketing professional after working in regulation-loving Central Europe, I was utterly surprised by how easy consumers give away their personal details. While a German will think twice or thrice before giving up their email address as an authentication means, Chinese consumers think it’s absolutely normal to hand in their mobile phone numbers, just to enter a competition to win a few dollars’ worth of voucher.
4. QR codes
QR codes are just so convenient and I don’t understand why they are not swamping the West like they are here in Asia! Take your customers on an integrated journey and make sure they arrive at your destination.
Western tech companies can only dream of delivering the same array of tools and features. While apps in the West tend to focus on doing one thing really well, WeChat can handle commerce, social networking, banking, and travel bookings, among other tasks.