Why WeChat Can Help Promote Social BusinessWeChat is a mobile text and voice messaging communication service like WhatsApp, LINE, KakaoTalk and TalkBox. It’s developed by Tencent in China and provides multimedia communication with text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messaging, broadcast (one-to-many) messaging, photo/video sharing, location sharing, and contact information exchange. It is said that WeChat already has 400 million users worldwide (including 70 million users outside China) and will reach 500 million soon!
Like WhatsApp, LINE and other voice messengers, WeChat’s design is based on strong ties and it’s for communication among good friends, family members and colleagues. But what makes WeChat very special is that it opens its APIs to business owners and mobile application (both native application and generic application, can see the differences here.) developers. More specifically, for native application developers, they can enable the application’s users to share content to friends on WeChat through the API. (e.g. Pinterest users can share their pins to WeChat friends.) And for business owners, they can apply for an official WeChat account for their brands and easily execute marketing practices via WeChat Official Account Admin Platform or their official account management platform developed and customized by themselves.
So what do these mean for social business?
A large audience
WeChat has massive number of users especially in China, and the number is growing at a rapid speed. Also the users range widely, including people at different ages, in different professions and of different beliefs. It is a good place for business to enhance brand awareness and increase sales.
Voice messages & short videos make a big difference
Generally we communicate with others through text or pictures. Now the appearance of voice messages and short videos on WeChat makes us feel each other better. It helps a brand build a more amiable image and reduce the distance between a brand and a customer.
Efficient ways to get subscribers
There’re different ways for companies to get more subscribers on WeChat like: 1) Call on the followers/fans on existing social network to follow their official accounts on WeChat so as to get better services. 2) Offer some surprises to reward those who recommend the official accounts to their close friends on WeChat. 3) Besides sharing the account names and QR codes on other online networks and ads, also print the names and QR codes on offline marketing materials, in order to get subscribers both online and offline.
A flexible and open marketing platform
WeChat itself has developed an official account admin platform for companies to do marketing. The platform provides a place for marketers to have one-to-one conversations with their subscribers, manage their subscribers & marketing material, broadcast messages to a large audience and configure Auto-Reply with basic settings. Additionally, the platform enables marketers to use the APIs to flexibly implement customized and advanced features such as subscriber retrieval, according to specific needs.
Low cost to create a mobile application
Traditionally if one wants to create a mobile application, it means that this application should be coded in various programming languages to apply to different mobile platforms like: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry or Symbian; and we call this type of application “native mobile application”. It’s obvious that this will cost lots of time, manpower and money. However, with WeChat’s APIs, one can develop the application in HTML5 and a server language. We call this generic/lite mobile application, which doesn’t cost much time and money. This lite application is attached to the official account and runs on WeChat, users can use it directly – just click the account icon.
We can imagine that this will turn WeChat into an app store! In short, with the APIs, many people can start a business on WeChat, companies can provide better services and marketers can easily execute various interesting and powerful campaigns by creating lite mobile applications with low cost.
Extensive integration of social networks & other mobile apps
On the one hand, WeChat itself allows users to share content to some social networks (like FB) and native applications developed with WeChat’s APIs. On the other hand, more and more developers have integrate the WeChat Open Platform into their native applications to make users share interesting things to WeChat. All of these make WeChat more social and full of life.
**Note: The analyses above are based on the Chinese WeChat version, so some features may have not turned up on other versions. But it’s just a matter of time.
This article is not to ask you all to use WeChat or do marketing on WeChat, but to give you some enlightenment behind this application. Finally let’s think about the following issues:
- How will voice messages & short videos develop in social communication?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of a native application and a generic/lite application? And when to develop a native one and a generic/lite one?
- How does a mobile application work in a marketing campaign?
- How to better integrate mobile marketing with offline business/marketing?
Looking forward to hear your voice!
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