Ultimate Guide To WeChat Advertising & Growth

What do You Need to Know about WeChat? How To Grow & Advertise Your Business in the Smartest Way?

Tencent’s WeChat, as China’s largest social media platform with 987 million Monthly Active Users, has evidently developed a fascinating & lucrative model for growth in what has become a ‘WeChat Centric Society’. It is the bedrock of social communications in China & the platform you need to develop a presence on as part of any comprehensive strategy.

Here I want to explore the key features of:

  1. Practical Advertising Strategy
  2. How to Leverage WeChat as a Powerful Tool for Growth

The aim is to help you come to informed conclusions about China’s number one social network and how you can utilize it for growth in a pragmatic way.

WeChat Reached 902 Million Daily Logged in Users on September 2017, Up 17% YoY.

Practical Advertising Strategy

What is WeChat’s Vision?

Firstly It’s important to understand the vision & scope of this platform as an advertiser with WeChat’s ultimate goal of being the definitive ‘one stop shop’ for users realized in modern China. This is a platform that caters for users daily needs in a unique way.

WeChat has become the bedrock of social communication & one of the most integrated service providers in the world.

Consider here a short
run-down of WeChat services

  • Text, Audio, Image Messaging
  • Live Video Sights
  • Moments (akin to a FB News Feed)
  • Didi (Taxi ordering app embedded)
  • Dating Services
  • E-Wallet & Payment Services
  • Booking trips, cinema tickets etc
  • Tencent News
  • Incorporated JD Shopping Channels
  • WeChat Stores
  • Mini Programmes/Apps
  • WeChat Browser
  • Geolocation & Mapping Services

Tencent have either directly developed WeChat services to cater for user demand or formed lucrative partnerships (as is the case with DIDI & JD), to cater to the Chinese consumer.

If there is one thing western firms can learn from WeChat is their extra-ordinary ability to meet user needs and localize.

This wealth of services & vast user number is a huge feat and puts WeChat in a very powerful position.

They can now tap into their wealth of data for Business Development as well as partner with Global players hungry the world over to reach Chinese consumers on the platform.

WeChat Pay as a Powerful Infrastructure

When advertising products & services on WeChat it’s vital to understand the e-wallet / WeChat payment system. This is a digital payment service linked to a users bank account for instant payment on the platform.

For advertising products this lends itself often to ‘Flash Sales’ or ‘Impulsive Purchasing’. The power of this payment is that it couples e-commerce with social networking. WeChat hosted stores can be utilized to drive traffic and generate sales all without leaving this platform.

Consider then that in-system ads drive traffic to an WeChat hosted store which allows for an in-built and instant payment. In many ways an advertisers dream.

The effectiveness of advertising on WeChat is that users do not leave the platform. This also means you must optimize content at every stage of the advertising process (HMTL5 Format for WeChat).

The WeChat Wallet Service Page for WeChat Users

Growing WeChat Followers the Key

This is the key for any new brand or business on WeChat. It’s essential to understand that WeChat is a closed network, that is, users can only see posts & content if they are connected with you.

For content to be visible you need to develop and build that community around your account. I view WeChat as a key portal for not just sharing information but also engaging with users in Q&A, sending news-letters & ultimately providing incentives for followers to engage with your account.

The most powerful incentive is quality content; what unique offering, insights and education can you provide to the end user? What will keep them returning to your account and instil that much sought phenomena of brand loyalty.

23% Yoy Increase in Social Payment Transactions is Dramatic in 2017. Additionally, note that offline commercial transactions skyrocketed by 280% YoY, connecting an advertisement with the infrastructure to pay either online or offline is a powerful approach in China.

Here’s some key tips for Follower Growth

  • Keep Content Focused on Your Specific Niche
  • Establish yourself as a native expert in your area
  • Provide completely unique insights / offers that are only available from your account.
  • Consider HTML5 content formatting for a far superior user experience.
  • It sounds so obvious but remain highly social, re-post and re-share user generated content on your page, bring consumers into the conversation and reward them for your doing so.
  • Quality content equates to shares on ‘moments feeds’, nothing is more powerful than P2P sharing amongst social groups.

So what you have is a chicken/egg situation, how do you grow your followers without that current base & social group.

Evidently you need content to be viewed outside of your network.

Local Brand ‘Evangeline Foods’ create Quality Content that can be re-shared on the platform they provide insight, comment & select the right imagery to reach large scale exposure for their menus.

There are two approaches organic advertising & paid advertising

Organic growth on WeChat

Outside of paid advertising on the platform there are also a wealth of options. Here are the most frequently adopted strategies that aim to grow your follower base in the smartest way.

Group Integration & Posting

Content is actively re-shared outside of your social network into targeted groups, the effectiveness of this depends on the target market in terms of group interest & engagement levels but a quality strategy involves having access to quality, high level groups that are less associated with spam but linked to active conversation.

Content (weekly or daily) can be posted in groups and then animated through conversation + relevant topic discussion. Spam groups are avoided and will not drive traffic to articles or posts whilst quality groups will. Regular discussions led my multiple members it the key (rather than one domineering one).

A smart strategy therefore utilizes multiple accounts posting covertly.

Once through to the article users can engage with the content, leave comments & reach a call to action to follow the account.

Hence still the phrase holds true, content really is king.

Groups can be searched via topics type, you can then re-post and integrate content into groups but conversation must also be animated to drive prospects to the WeChat page.

How to Leverage WeChat as a Powerful Tool for Growth

Re-Posting & Sharing

Very effective as content is being pushed into user’s networks directly. P2P sharing on WeChat is an important element for growth. P2P can be artificially stimulated with multiple covert accounts but needs to result in organic sharing, again why will the content be shared? It comes back time and time again to content.

Organic strategies can
drive traffic to

  • WeChat Official Accounts
  • WeChat Stores
  • Store page
  • External Links (opened within WeChat browser)

A Developing Advertising Eco-System

One of WeChat’s defining traits is the development of it’s own eco-system. Users remain within the system for;One of WeChat’s defining traits is the development of it’s own eco-system. Users remain within the system for:

  • Social communications
  • Moments/news feed updates
  • Web links (WeChat Browser)
  • Mini apps/programmes optimized within this ecosystemShopping (via WeChat Stores)
  • E-wallet payments/transfers
  • Didi (taxi ordering application)
  • Dating/Ticket Booking Third Party Apps
  • Mapping/Location Sharing Services

And the list really does go on.. But what does this mean?
For advertisers you have an incredible amount of data on consumers.
WeChat actually has historically been a trickier platform for advertisers with higher minimum spends and fewer ad options than China’s second largest network ‘Weibo’.

One reason for this is that Weibo boasts an ad structure more akin to Facebook whilst WeChat has adopted a different methodology.

One explanation for WeChat’s mass uptake on such a scale is the platforms determination to keep the user funnel relatively free of ads and focus on user experience before monetizing through paid promotions.

But international companies want to reach WeChat users. Therefore ad options are changing and becoming more accessible for registered accounts.

Moments Ads

Moments ads are placed in-feed for users, this is typically a higher-budget approach in terms of minimum ad spend but offers the highest exposure levels.

Moments ads can drive traffic to

  • WeChat Official Accounts
  • WeChat Stores
  • Store page
  • External Links (opened within WeChat browser)

What do they look like?

A normal Moments ad consists of the following elements:

  • Advertiser’s name and profile picture
  • Text: A short description of less than 40 characters
  • Visuals: Up to 6 pictures or a short video that lasts up to 15 seconds
  • Hyperlink: Link to a promotional article, a native advertising page, a list of previous articles from an official account, an app download page or external H5 pages.

Integrated Video, HTML5 Design & a Minimalist Aesthetic for Chanel

Pricing & Costs

Moments ads adopt the CPM (Cost per 1,000 impressions) pricing model. There are also two purchasing schemes: scheduling and auction.

  • For the scheduling scheme (排期购买), advertisers can schedule a fixed advertising time during the following 2 to 28 days. The price also depends on where the ad will be displayed. The minimum budget is 50,000 RMB for one advertising campaign.
  • For the auction scheme (竞价购买), it’s more suitable for advertisers who need flexible advertising times and constant optimization of the ad. It’s based on real-time bidding and the minimum budget is 1,000 RMB for one day.

Interactivity on Moments Ads

There is now a greater degree of interactivity with companies such as Trip Advisor encouraging users to comment and interact with content. In an interview with social beta Trip advisor commented that they had ‘replied to 1000’s of comments’ (see below).

Advertising opting this social approach is very important in a unique WeChat ecosystem.

WeChat Moment ads are also far more focused on video content, and have developed a clearer format for an improved user experience. This integrates the content all onto a single ad banner & allows for increased company interactivity on ads.

TripAdvisor replied to users’ comments under a Moments ad (Photo credit: SocialBeta)

Developments in banner on WeChat have been exciting to witness, the benefit of banners is they target users already engaging with RELEVANT content on WeChat.

Footer & Exchange ads for example can be placed at the bottom of targeted articles about that specific topic, thus you know there is already a degree of active engagement with relevant topics.

WeChat is sometimes fondly referred to as the ‘WeChat Times’ in terms of users browsing for information, articles have become much more important with placing ads alongside such content key for long term growth.

A variety of functions served by Banner Ads on WeChat

  • WeChat Official Accounts
  • WeChat Stores
  • Store page
  • External Links (opened within WeChat browser)

  • Footer ads
  • Pre-scrolling video ads
  • Exchange ads

What does it look like?

  1. Footer ad (底部广告) – a banner placed below a WeChat article with a call-to-action button 

     

  2. Video ad (视频贴片广告) – Pre-roll ads in a video

    WeChat also allows advertisers to place a pre-roll ad that lasts no longer than 15 seconds before a video* inserted in a WeChat article. The ad will show up when the video is played in a Wi-Fi environment. There’s also a “Learn more” button in the bottom right corner that takes users to another landing page for further information.

     

    *The video must be longer than 5 minutes.

3. Exchange ad (互选广告)

Exchange ads are similar to footer ads. The major difference is that exchange ads may be presented in a larger card format with a call-to-action button.

Pricing & Costs

For the standard footer banner ads, the primary pricing model is CPC (Cost per click).

  • For the auction scheme (竞价购买), it’s more suitable for advertisers who need flexible advertising time and constant optimization of the ad. The advertising cost is determined by the number of ad clicks. It’s based on real-time bidding and the minimum bidding price for each click is 0.5 RMB.
  • For the scheduling scheme (排期购买), it is ONLY open to account ads for the purpose of promoting the brand or a campaign. Advertisers can schedule a fixed advertising time during the following 2 to 28 days. The price also depends on the location where the ad will be displayed. The pricing model is CPM in this case and the minimum budget is 1,000 RMB for one advertising campaign.

In Conclusion

The key take-home is that both organic & paid ad options provide a more comprehensive infrastructure for intelligent consumer marketing.

This is a complex & competitive arena, you should ensure you speak with an expert first about how best to develop your WeChat Strategy.

With growing informational asymmetry in relation to WeChat it’s more important than ever to consult, review strategy and invest funds in the wisest possible way.

GET IN TOUCH

GMA Your Mainland Team

GMA are one of the largest & most reputable digital marketing agencies in Mainland China. They focus purely on Chinese digital strategy & implementation.

If you have a serious project in mind please contact us for more information.

WeChat is a core aspect of GMA’s Business:

We work extensively in:

  • Mini/Micro Site Development
  • Ad Campaign Management
  • Content Promotion Strategy (Organic)
  • WeChat Content Creation & Formatting
  • Reporting & Analytics
  • HTML5 Content & Account Development

Why Choose GMA for WeChat Development:

  • We are Tencent Official Partner
  • 5+ years of WeChat experience
  • WeChat content & formatting specialists
  • In-depth reporting & analytics
  • An international team of 42 in China
  • We manage all projects in-house