WeChat is the biggest social media platform in China boasting over 1 billion monthly users Although a vast majority of WeChat users are based in China, WeChat is available worldwide. The app is a product of Tencent, one of China’s biggest tech companies. Even though WeChat was originally designed to be messaging app, it has grown to include several marketing functions such as WeChat advertising.
If you want to develop your brand in China, developing a strong online presence on this app would be a very effective digital marketing strategy and through WeChat Advertising, your brand can reach millions of Chinese consumers on the platform. This article will explore WeChat advertising and how you can incorporate your brand’s image into these advertising avenues to leverage China’s top social network for advertising and maximize results.
What is WeChat?
In a matter of 10 years, Tencent’s WeChat has established itself as a top mobile messaging app, not just in China but globally. Yet, WeChat has become much more than a messaging app. One of WeChat’s best selling points is that one-to-one communication is just one of the numerous services it offers. WeChat is packed with a plethora of unique and innovative features that make it more than just a social media platform. These features make it easy for businesses to connect with more potential consumers.
For instance, in addition to traditional social media functions, WeChat via WeChat Pay can be used to facilitate mobile transactions for both online and physical vendors. WeChat Stores is also available for online shopping. Further, the app can be used to book a flight, order a taxi, fix an appointment with your doctor, etc. With these wide array of features, there is little wonder as to why it has become so popular in China.
What is WeChat Advertising?
Although there are similarities in advertising on WeChat and other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, there are more intricacies to advertising on WeChat and marketers need to familiarize themselves with these elements to fully harness the opportunity of advertising on WeChat.
WeChat Advertising also features tags that are designed to help you better target your audience. These tags are based on age, gender, income level, education, profession and several others factors that a brand should research before selecting.
WeChat Advertising offers an excellent way to connect with a Chinese audience and below are the three main methods of WeChat advertising;
- WeChat Banner Advertising
WeChat banner ads are placed at the bottom of articles and messages written by a WeChat Official Account. This type of ads usually bear an account name, logo, and headline. Clicking on banner ads will direct you to another page which will provide more information about what is being advertised. The banners are supposed to drive consumer action; it could be to purchase a product, download a mobile app, sign up for a service, or even claim a coupon.
WeChat banner ads are performance-based. In essence, they usually have a Call to Action (CTA) which takes the user to a landing page. Advertisers use this type of ad to measure the effectiveness of advertising. How many people downloaded the app? How many purchased the product or claimed a coupon? Banner ads are somewhat pricey but beyond that, marketers love them because they can convert prospects who follow the banner ads into paying customers.
Banner ads are popular amongst marketers on WeChat because Banner ads use basic designs which the marketer can either outsource or create on their own using ready-made templates online. They are also performance-based and without investing so much money, the advertiser can measure the effectiveness of the ads to determine whether to discontinue or carry on with a specific marketing approach.
Banner ads are best recommended for small businesses with a specific target audience. Larger businesses offering a variety of products may not benefit so much from this approach unless they narrow down a selective product and consumer niche.
Before businesses can advertise using WeChat banner ads, they must provide proof of the legitimacy of their products and be given the approval to advertise by the Chinese government. This process can be tedious but the results are well worth the effort.
- WeChat Moments Advertising
WeChat moments ads are akin to the newsfeed on Facebook. These ads are placed in the Moments section and unlike banner ads which can disrupt the content of a page, moment ads blend in with the page to appear just like regular user-generated posts. The great thing about WeChat moment ads is that as an advertiser, you have the option of choosing between display or video format.
If a user shares a moments ad with another user, WeChat will automatically place the ad on the Moments of users with similar interests based on the assumption that it is a good fit. Both formats have been proven to be very effective however, they can be quite expensive as they are very engaging and interactive. A typical moments ad features the name of the brand, a profile image, up to 6 photos, a link to HTML5 page and text with about 40 Chinese characters.
Moments ads come in a range of formats such as photos, texts, short videos (both embedded and full screen), and 360 panoramas. If there is no user engagement with a moments ad, it will be replaced after 6 hours. Otherwise, moments ads are usually placed for 7 days and users are only shown one moments ads in every 48 hours. These ads are relatively more expensive than banner ads and are ideal for more established businesses and luxury brands. Companies like Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), Jimmy Choo, Adidas, Vivo, Coca Cola and BMW have been known to launch some of the most popular campaigns using moments ads.
Companies that want to advertise via WeChat moments should have a good budget for this kind of marketing as the rate is based on impressions and depending on the target region. A higher budget will also get your more functionalities and features in your ad. There is also a CPM pricing model where you pay a fixed amount for a fixed number of impressions (1000 impressions). Impressions refer to the user engagement with an ad including actions like clicking on the link, sharing, liking and leaving comments.
- Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) Promotion
KOLs are the influencers on WeChat and are usually famous people or celebrities who can influence consumers’ decisions. Here, an advertiser will collaborate with a KOL to have their ad posted on the KOL’s official account. KOLs typically have a large network of followers so any ad posted on their timeline can be viewed by their multitude of followers. This can make your business go viral as followers seem to view KOLs as a credible source of advice and knowledge.
When choosing an influencer, it is important to go with someone whose values or interests are properly aligned to your business and the product/service you want to advertise. The pricing for KOL promotions vary as they are either proposed by social media agencies representing the influencer or the influencer themselves. You can read more about KOL influencers in China by reading Tenba Group’s previous article here.
KOL marketing is a great way to advertise as businesses can contact and pay KOLs directly. There is no minimum amount to pay and the content can be a range of mediums. Timelines and other details of the advertising campaign can be set up between the KOL influencer and the business. It makes for more convenience and budget considerations.
How can businesses begin to advertise on WeChat?
WeChat Advertising offers a gateway for international companies to connect to a Chinese customer base. WeChat is not yet as commercialized as other mainstream social media where there are thousands of advertising slots and as such, Chinese consumers are more open to advertisements.
KOL advertising strategies are still one of the best and easiest ways for businesses to market through WeChat Advertising. Foreign businesses have more options and control over their campaigns. Also leaving room for trial and research in consumer engagement without expensive or lengthy commitments to campaigns.
Unlike Facebook, which earns most of its revenue from ads WeChat monetizes the apps ecosystem and payment system. Revenue from ads is only a small portion. Despite this, WeChat Advertising is not as complicated as it sounds. As consumers become less trusting and ads become less effective given that they are everywhere, Advertising on China’s number one social media platform ensures that your business reaches a wider Chinese audience. Foreign brands can promote their businesses, grow their customer base, and drive traffic to their websites.