For many, WeChat is considered the mobile WhatsApp of China. For any business looking to market internationally, WeChat should be at the very center of its mobile marketing plan.
Despite launching a mere four years ago, WeChat already boasts 600 million users, with around 500 million in China alone. When it comes to social networking in China (and, increasingly, among Asian-Americans), WeChat is the undisputed champ.
The Future of Social Media--Today
WeChat compiles many of the features of the world's largest social media platforms in a simple package while incorporating every facet of day-to-day life within it. By tapping into this massive resource, companies can roll out marketing campaigns that utilize numerous facets of the user's world.
Here are some of the top WeChat features that companies should be keeping an eye on:
1. Massive Audience Base
With about 500 million Chinese users and 100 million others across the globe, WeChat continues to expand at a phenomenal rate. It's already the optimal medium for reaching Chinese or Asian-American consumers, and that audience will only grow as the platform's popularity continues to spread.
2. All-in-One System
While most apps are self-contained, WeChat has the flexibility to connect to 85,000 other apps. It has been building a business ecosystem, allowing third-party companies to develop functions and services within WeChat to expand its market base even further.
3. Reach Beyond Social
WeChat isn't just a social app; it's a lifestyle app. A user can still connect with friends and family--or reach out to potential customers--but he can also order a taxi, pay his utility bill, buy a plane ticket, split the dinner check, and invest in a new stock. There's almost no limit to what a user can do without ever closing the app.
4. Wallet Replacement
The WeChat Wallet lets users link bank accounts and cards to their WeChat accounts to make both online and offline purchases. This also allows users to make purchases quickly and easily right from the app. This helps businesses that advertise through the platform, cutting out the extra steps between viewing an ad and landing a sale.
5. Communication Enhancement
WeChat not only comes with standard communication features like free calling, text messaging, and video chat, but it also offers a popular "Hold To Talk" feature that makes messaging a breeze. All users have to do is select a contact, press the button, and speak. When the user releases the button, the message sends.
In addition to its robust suite of lifestyle features, WeChat partners with advertisers and entertainment venues to offer an interactive component to users. To use the popular Shake feature, a user simply has to shake his phone. This allows users to find someone nearby who is also using Shake, participate in a brand promotion, or interact with a nearby event.
7. Advertising Integration
WeChat's social component, called Moments, operates similarly to Facebook's Timeline. The app recently partnered with BMW and Coca-Cola to begin integrating advertisements in users' news feeds, joining the many companies already interacting with their customers by sharing news and providing customer service right through the app.
8. Public Accounts
Many renowned brands have set up official public accounts on WeChat, allowing them to communicate with their audiences by sharing news feeds and providing customer service through the app.
After the grand opening of Burberry's flagship Shanghai store, followers were able to take an interactive panoramic tour of the event, including videos imbedded within the interactive 360-degree exploration tool.
To reach the largest audience possible and improve your relationships with future customers, you can even try integrating game elements in your WeChat presence, posting customer surveys to get real-time feedback, and taking advantage of geo-fueled news feed features to target users near your retail location.
If you want your brand to reach a larger audience, you won't find a better medium than WeChat.
This article was co-authored by Nancy Huang, media planner and buyer at Gravity.