With 902 million users logging into their WeChat account every day and spending an average of 90 minutes on China’s biggest social media platform, it is little surprise that almost every global luxury brand has jumped on the bandwagon. More than 90 percent of luxury brands now have a WeChat account, but having an official WeChat account and utilizing it to maximum effect are two very different things. How then, should brands leverage this communication channel for maximum efficacy?
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Though Chinese consumers famously spend a significant amount of time engaged with WeChat, it is still a social network based on a multitude of messages and feed updates that get pushed lower with each new post or message a user receives. Time spent on WeChat is often spread over a wide variety of communications and accounts, with scrolling through information for something that catches the eye a common user trait.
The key to grabbing the attention of followers on WeChat, prompting them to engage with the brand and actually make purchases, is achieved by creating a feeling of urgency through marketing campaigns and doing it often.
One such way is to introduce special limited edition collections on WeChat during major annual calendar events such as Chinese Valentine’s Day or Christmas (specific to the region the brand is operating in). Weekly message pushes can also be used as “mini campaigns” of sorts, constantly presenting users with new topics and new products to consider, complete with a call to action.
Though all brands should have their own official WeChat presence, those looking to target a millennial audience should also be aware that this might not be the best way to get the message to be received as truthful or authentic by young consumers, for whom trust and authenticity are key.
In general, brand messaging is perceived by millennials as more trustworthy when it comes from a voice that is perceived to be independent. A few years ago, when fashion bloggers such as Mr Bags and Gogoboi began publishing articles on WeChat, it marked the first time most young Chinese consumers had been able to access information about luxury from an individual, rather than institutional ad campaigns or fashion magazines. These days, a WeChat post from Gogoboi will routinely be read by more then 100,000 people, far more than the average post from the vast majority of brand or magazine accounts.
A luxury brand may have their own official account on WeChat, as well as partner with WeChat influencers to help spread their brand messaging to a broader audience. A growing number of brands (14 percent of clothing brands and 6 percent of watch and jewellery brands, according to WeChat data) have also opened a WeChat shop to integrate commerce within the WeChat infrastructure.
Then there is the advertising element of WeChat, with brand ads appearing on the moments (or newsfeeds) of audiences targeted using WeChat’s rich fount of data about its users. These ads can be a particularly good option to increase the exposure of a new product, for example, or to attract eyeballs during a particularly crowded marketing period, such prior to festivals or holidays. WeChat ads are also often utilized as a way to point people to other online or offline events, increasing their visibility.
WeChat’s functionality as a way of managing customer relationships and collecting customer data is well known but using WeChat for CRM can also be useful beyond the value of customer data management.
According to studies done on the topic, it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. So while acquisition of new followers is important, brands should also spend time and effort on building existing customer relationships. In the past, customer service centers and other traditional methods of CRM sufficed. But with the burgeoning ubiquity of social media and millennial generation’s need for instant gratification, WeChat is beginning to pose a convenient and effective way for brands to connect their sales staff with clients and prospects. Instead of going through the tedious process of sending an email, consumers can now directly chat with a customer service representative via the app’s chat function.