Why WeChat is a Winner: Meet the Social Media King of China

Tencent International Business Group (IBG) has accredited Leverate Media as its first partner agency in Germany. Advertisers can now simply book campaigns with Leverate Media on the largest Chinese internet platforms with optimal market and localisation expertise.

In relation to this, we post an article about WeChat that featured in Leverate Media’s corporate magazine:
For any social media marketer it can be easy to forget that there is anything besides Facebook, Instagram and the other well-known platforms for reaching social media users. While Facebook has about 1.8 billion users worldwide only an insignificant fraction of them are found in China where another social media giant reigns, called WeChat. With around 850 million active users – and growing – WeChat is an integral part of the vast majority of Chinese internet users’ lives, many of which spent in excess of 90 minutes a day in the app. Disregarding WeChat is something which companies looking to reach Chinese consumers can ill afford. Yet, many marketers know little about WeChat and how to use the platform to their advantage.

WeChat was launched as an instant messaging and social entertainment app by Tencent Holding in 2011. Known in China as Weixin (微信), Chinese for “micro message”, the app was introduced in a separate version to the international market under the name WeChat in the following year.

Tencent Holding was founded in Shenzhen in 1998 and went public on the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2004. It is now one of China’s largest internet companies developing and operating a number of the most popular social and digital platforms for internet users in China. In addition to WeChat, Tencent’s services include QQ for communications; Qzone for social networking; QQ Game Platform for online games; QQ.com and Tencent News for information and Tencent Video for video content; JOOX for streaming music.

Tencent developed the WeChat platform, recognizing the needs of people to connect, communicate, and share content with others through their mobile devices. Since then, WeChat has continuously developed new features to enhance the user experience and relevancy of its app. Benny Ho, Senior Director of Business Development, Tencent tells us: “– We focus on the user experience and put our users at the center of our product development. WeChat goes beyond messaging to offer a robust set of communications, social and gaming features within one seamless platform that is fun and easy to use. WeChat also works together with brands to offer experiences and content only on WeChat. We believe this is how we differentiate WeChat against our competitors as the go-to app for any social situation.”

Since its launch, WeChat has fast become a massive user-based online advertising platform for marketers. “– WeChat is really the most prominent social platform in China now, and brands can leverage our WeChat official accounts and media opportunities to build engagement with their existing and potential customers,” Benny Ho says. Only recently has WeChat taken the step to offer advertisers extensive opportunities to reach the millions of WeChat users with paid advertising. It is a move which many advertisers have taken note of for obvious reasons. “– This is particularly important given the changes we’re witnessing in the Chinese consumer habits. And, to give an example, the China outbound travel market is seeing explosive growth, with 109M total trips made in 2015, a number that is expected to grow to 200M by 2020. At the same time, Chinese tourists are increasingly shifting their travel habits from being tour-based to independent travel. This is a significant change, as it opens the opportunity for relevant brands to engage with Chinese consumers while they’re in China in order to influence their overseas itineraries. With WeChat being the dominant social media platform in China, it is best positioned to help brands reach consumers.”

Our penetration in the market and strong targeting capability makes us the most effective digital media platform to reach Chinese consumers, Benny Ho says.

Tencent has an almost unrivalled penetration into China’s social media market and extensive big data targeting capabilities that digital marketers cannot find in many other places in China’s online advertising space, Benny Ho argues. “– By drawing on big data algorithms to serve ads according to users’ online behavior and inferred lifestyle, we provide targeting options around five dimensions, which are user demographics, hardware environment, keywords, behaviors, and interests. Moreover, we can tailor targeting options depending on advertisers’ needs. Our penetration in the market and strong targeting capability makes us the most effective digital media platform to reach Chinese consumers,” Benny Ho says and he might have a point. According to a recent eMarketer survey named ”WeChat in China” the two leading social media site/apps among social media users in China are WeChat and Qzone, both Tencent products.

WeChat is an all-encompassing platform in users’ daily lives. Not only does it boast a social and information dimension but it is also an app for your shopping and lifestyle needs with the possibility to schedule your doctor’s appointment, book a taxi or pay utility bills through an integrated payment platform, to name a few. WeChat has taken a more diverse revenue path compared to Facebook, generating a significant share of its revenue through in-app services, such as the WeChat Pay payment solution, in addition to ad space which comprises the vast majority of Facebook’s revenue stream. WeChat also makes it very easy for users to engage with businesses and vice versa and the company behind is always looking to work together with brands to offer WeChat users exclusive content and experiences.

The ad solution is fit for both awareness and direct response advertisers, Benny Ho explains: “– Leveraging on the massive traffic of various Tencent platforms like WeChat, QQ Mobile, Qzone Mobile, QQ Messenger, and Tencent News, advertisers can build massive awareness towards Chinese users. Our key advertising products on WeChat include ‘WeChat Official Account Banner Ads’, which can redirect users to an external URL, initiate the download of an app, or allow users to instantly follow a brand’s Official Account with one click. Furthermore, there are also “– WeChat Moments Ads”, unique native social feed style display and video ads with a non-disruptive experience to users. Via our precise and optimized targeting technology, our advertising solutions enable brands to achieve different objectives and to drive cost efficiency. In addition to this, we work closely and directly with advertisers to customize solutions to fit their specific business needs.”

WeChat has taken a more diverse revenue path compared to Facebook, generating a significant share of its revenue through in-app services

To get the most out of WeChat, Benny Ho encourages advertisers to use the various ad solutions in combination with getting an Official Account to increase customer loyalty given the fact that many users spend well over an hour in the app every single day. For advertisers looking to directly generate revenue, Benny Ho recommends adding WeChat Pay to their WeChat mix, enabling transactions to take place between users and the company. “– At WeChat, we focus on deepening the users’ engagement by enhancing both the core communications and social experiences as a multifunctional platform including partnering with other companies to provide meaningful content to users. Our Official Accounts can be utilized by companies and brands to build engagement with their customers. It also helps increase customer loyalty for brands by providing value added experiences through compelling content. Some notable brands with Official Accounts include McDonald’s, KFC and Nike in Hong Kong; Chang Beer in Thailand; Domino’s Pizza in Malaysia; and China Airlines in Taiwan.”

For advertisers looking to directly generate revenue, Benny Ho recommends adding WeChat Pay to their WeChat mix, enabling transactions to take place between users and the company.

According to Benny Ho, Tencent International Business Group is committed to building long-term growth worldwide with a focus on building a healthy ecosystem for all its partners, be it marketers, advertisers and agencies. “– There’s no appointed official partner and we hope this model benefits all advertisers and partners. We’re committed to driving an open, fair, and transparent partnership system with partners and resellers.” Leverate is one of the agencies working closely with Tencent to offer advertisers an efficient setup and management of campaigns on some of China’s most important digital and social media platforms right now. Any advertiser interested in WeChat and other advertising opportunities in China are welcome to contact their local Leverate office for consultation.

WeChat boasts a number of key features that are worth knowing about:

WeChat started out as a messaging app and contacting people in your network remains a core feature of the app. Users can contact people in the form of text messages, calls, as well as send images, videos and stickers.

Very similar to the newsfeed on Facebook, ‘Moments’ is where users can share content and engage with what friends have shared. This feature is like an extended group chat as only your friends can see your content and you can choose if only a selected group of friends can see it.

P2P money transfer
WeChat enables users to send and to receive money from friends for users who have linked their bank account details to their WeChat account. Money is added to the user’s WeChat wallet, and can be used for in-app and offline payments for a number of services and shopping options.

Linking payment details to your WeChat account opens up opportunities to use the app to pay for different services and products. For example, users can pay utility bills, traffic fines, and purchase theatre tickets. Also, users can book anything from doctor’s appointment to a taxi going there.

Mini programs
WeChat recently launched a new feature: in-app mini programs. These mini programs are operated within the WeChat app, targeting specifically low-frequency use cases that may not necessitate a full-blown app. This new feature enables users to use programs, such as photo editors, weather, news, and taxi booking services without leaving the WeChat app, nor having to download an app onto the phone, while creating a seamless experience to allow users to follow through on their intent without distractions.

This blog post is an adapted version of an article that featured in Leverate Media’s company magazine ‘Leverate ONE‘.