WeChat is a bit of a bright star in the Chinese social media universe, and it can provide Australian businesses with some excellent opportunities to market to China.

If you’re interested in using WeChat, here’s a basic guide to why it’s popular, how it can be used, and what restrictions you need to be aware of.

So why should businesses consider using WeChat?

WeChat is a hugely popular platform, and offers a massive potential audience.

In fact, there were 650 million monthly active WeChat users as at the end of the third quarter of 2015, according to parent company Tencent’s financial results.

Data released by Tencent in 2015 and reported on Technode also shows:

  • 46% of internet users in China cited WeChat as their favourite app.
  • 60% reported opening the app more than ten times a day.
  • 53% of SMEs reported making earnings directly through WeChat or a linked interface.
  • WeChat introduced in-app advertising in 2015.

How people use WeChat

WeChat users make appointments, book travel, order cabs, check out where to eat, pay bills, get directions, research and purchase products and services, chat with friends, check the weather, look at the news and sports results, play games, and access information through the platform.

According to Tencent:

  • 96% of users are aged between 18 and 36.
  • 64% of users are male and 36% female.
  • WeChat is a driver of more than US$1 billion in lifestyle spending.

With so many users already engaged on WeChat, it makes sense to use it as part of your overall Chinese marketing strategy.

How Australian business can use WeChat

WeChat can be used to:

  • Sell products and services including in the education, travel, entertainment, lifestyle, health, baby and food and beverage sectors.
  • Better connect with Chinese customers and market your products and services through blog articles, videos, images, and audio files.
  • Build business relationships in China – a very important factor in marketing and exporting to China.
  • Get to know your audience so you can more accurately target your promotions and marketing campaigns.
  • Test out apps – the platform has app-within-an-app functionality, which enables businesses to create their own apps within WeChat. Some startups have reported using this feature to test out an app before launching it as a standalone.

One Australian business successfully using WeChat is Jessica’s Suitcase, an online mother and baby products store owned by Jessica Rudd. Jessica reports doing all of her business on WeChat, using it for blogging, marketing and selling, and even for communicating with her business team in China via multi-party video conferencing.

A note of caution

In using WeChat, you do need to be aware of restrictions and censorship in China. According to news reports, the government in China has placed restrictions on WeChat through its State Internet and Information Office.

There have been reports of increased scrutiny and the banning of some public chat apps in order to prevent the spread of inappropriate information, such as pornography and terrorist ideology. Some accounts have also been banned for spreading ‘rumours’ or selling fake goods.

WeChat restrictions also include a requirement that public account users register with their real name, and agree to abide by China’s laws and in accordance with national interests.

Get the most from WeChat marketing with expert help

WeChat can be a very effective way of reaching Chinese audiences. But like any activity, it needs to be carefully integrated into your overall marketing strategy. If you’d like help to make the most of WeChat, contact our multilingual China marketing team.

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