Hey guys,

My name is Dragos and welcome to today’s topic:

WeChat – The APP to Rule Them ALL (In China)

Now, for those that have been following me for a little while, you know I talk about a variety of subjects. For starters, I have my marketing agency in Beijing, China (cre·long media) that is slowly taking off. Thanks to this beautiful project, I get to learn a lot about how marketing works in China. I normally take care of outbound strategies, but I have recently got in touch with local marketers and freelancers to start doing inbound strategies as well. And I also took the time to study and better understand the tools a company must use to advertise herself online, in China. Obviously, WeChat comes top-of-mind when you think about chinese apps and marketing tools. So here’s a couple of things you need to know about how to use it, the limits of it and what other options you have.

Using WeChat is common sense when it comes to marketing, because of how interactions are structured on it. It’s literally the go-to place for brands to connect with consumers. Well, it was, but more on that later.

Valley, Nature, WeChat, How To, Marketing China, Selling China, Digital Marketing

First off, if you think about China as a market potential for products and services and you don’t know about WeChat, you have a problem. Originally a chat platform, it quickly became a growing platform where groups form based on interest (Find an Apartment in Beijing Anyone?). Add to that the potential for companies to have an “Official Account” to drive traffic and even sell products. And add even more to that  the existence of mini-programs that can track fidelity and give out points based on purchases people make via WeChat Pay. Yes, WeChat is used as a paying platform for everything. From the supermarket to the local dumpling joint or even the random dude selling pineapples on the street, you pay with WeChat. (Check out another article)

So how does one company use WeChat to reach its consumers? If you have a local address and official registration in Mainland China, you can create an official account and start from there. A good friend gives a couple of tips on how to grow your WeChat fanbase. Worth a read to get the basics. 

Valley, Nature, WeChat, How To, Marketing China, Selling China, Digital Marketing

Now if you do not have a Chinese ID and you are basically starting out, you have other options. As mentioned, WeChat is formed of multiple groups based on interests. One can join such groups to connect with the desired audience and be helpful to them, therefore promoting your personal brand. Yes, not your company’s brand, but your personal brand. You need to understand that China values a lot relationships and connections. Hence the reason WeChat works so well. If people trust you, they trust the company you work for. But if the company you work for deceives people, you will see your hard-earned trust go out the window. Get it? I know some amazing people here that have a lot of connections. These people are smart enough not share these precious contacts with random strangers. You need to also become trustworthy, because your failure will end up staining their personal brand. It’s constant work!

So, you join such groups and you will find there’s a lot of people selling stuff, renting apartments and offering teaching jobs. Quality of groups vary. But you have higher quality groups where people have discussions and your expertise might be useful in such conversations. That’s how you start building a network of people that vouch for you, your quality and the services you can offer. Like everything else, it does take time.

Valley, Nature, WeChat, How To, Marketing China, Selling China, Digital Marketing

Now is WeChat your only option? Of course not! In fact, the number of published articles on WeChat is decreasing. According to CNNIC statistics, a notable drop of 24% happened in 2017. Companies saw the drop in organic reach on the platform and favored leveraging other options to paid traffic. Also, the time people spend reading such articles has decreased because of Douyin (you guys know it as Tik Tok) and new upcoming platforms.

Valley, Nature, WeChat, How To, Marketing China, Selling China, Digital Marketing

If you are planning on using WeChat as your main platform to reach your target consumer, know this: It’s very hard to do without paid traffic or investing in KOL. Heck, the influencers are probably the best option. And you should definitely look into how to take advantage of the mini-programs WeChat can offer to help you stay relevant.

If WeChat isn’t for you, there’s no lack of other options from Toutiao, QQ (Chinese Twitter), Weibo, Youku (Chinese YouTube), Baidu, Dianping (Chinese Yelp), Taobao (Chinese Amazon), JD (Chinese Amazon, but less fakes) or Xiaohongshu (Cross Boarder e-commerce). Each come with their own strategy… So, it’s a big challenge and I would honestly recommend working with the right people for this, unless you have time and money available to experiment it yourself.

Dragos out!

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Today’s item on the list :

  • Hone my video editing skills. Recent contracts allowed me to hone my video editing skills and it’s quite awesome!


Written by Dragos C.

Passionate about marketing, zealous about data analysis and fanatic about strategic development, I'm convinced that my experience, the many projects I've completed throughout the years and my desire to always challenge myself will always make me grow, both professionally and personally. When facing a problem, my reply is and will always be "Bring it on!"