Many social media platforms offer emojis, GIFs, and sticker sets to express emotions throughout the messaging features of the mobile apps. WeChat and LINE mobile messaging systems also provide stickers for the apps’ users. Since their introduction, the popularity of these has surged among texters. Users are able to create their own stickers or purchase packs sold from the platform or from other creatives looking to make their mark stick.
Businesses are transforming the WeChat and LINE sticker craze into marketing tools to help grow their brands. In this week’s article, Tenba Group breaks down the sticker phenomenon on these two apps and discusses the ways in which stickers are helping companies achieve stronger marketing.
What are the WeChat and LINE Social Media Platforms?
Tencent, the company behind the Chinese mobile app WeChat, reports that there are over one billion monthly active accounts on the WeChat platform. The mobile app operates largely in China. Naver, the company behind the Japanese mobile app LINE, had an active registration of 216 million monthly active users in 2017. Most of the mobile app’s users are in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia.
While both of the apps originated in the eastern world, WeChat and LINE have been expanding across the globe, quietly replacing popular messaging apps such as WhatsApp. Over 25 million users of LINE were based in the United States alone.
These mobile app messaging platforms have advanced beyond one-to-one communication capabilities since their release. 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, including WeChat Pay, WeChat Advertising, WeChat Moments, and of course, WeChat animated sticker sets. LINE offers users group video calling, timed messages, compressed data sharing, LINE Keep for saving notes, LINE Maps (including an indoor version for shopping facilities and large indoor venues), and also LINE animated sticker sets.
The Rise of WeChat and LINE Stickers vs. Emojis
Stickers are an essential part of communication in China and other Asian countries. Used to express emotions, many users feel that emojis just cannot convey the same level of disparity between emotions. One such example is using the blushing emoji. Yet, there is no distinction between a blush from an embarrassment, a stronger emotion of giddiness, or the indirect form of showing shyness. WeChat offers a larger range of emojis to capture the cultural tones, but stickers have become not only a more popular way of expressing emotions, but also to showcase traits unique to the individual sender.
Users are able to buy sticker sets that include famous pop culture references, their favorite band members, animals that match their personality, or humorous stickers that reflect their style of joking.
Stickers are big business for the mobile messaging platforms. The LINE platform gets $10 million in sales a month just from selling its own stickers. In 2014, the platform released its Creator’s Market so that any user can upload and sell their stickers to other users. Since then, there are over 610,000 sticker creators on LINE and over 300,000 sets imagined. Each set contains roughly 40 character graphics and sells for approximately $1USD. The company was estimating that over 2.4 million stickers were sent per day on the messaging platform.
WeChat boasted 45 billion messages sent on a daily basis on the platform, and 410 million audio and video calls made per day. Many of those messages included animated stickers.
Who Can Create Stickers?
Just about any user can create a sticker set for either the WeChat or LINE mobile apps. Each app has their own creating studio in which users can upload line art, photos, selfies, or other graphics and then edit them to fit the sticker requirements. Once uploaded, the user can put them on the sticker markets of these two apps. There are features to change the privacy settings of the sticker sets so that only family or friends can find the stickers uploaded.
Some artists have dreams beyond that of selling stickers to their family and friends. The LINE market stated that its top 10 sticker sets each brought close to 36.8 million yen ($317,300USD) within a six-month period. LINE collects 50% of the earnings from each sale of stickers, but the sticker craze has turned a considerable profit for many young artists looking to enter the market.
Some artists offer their sticker sets for free but have capitalized on the success of their beloved characters. They are now able to expand into the sale of physical merchandise.
Artists are not the only ones to showcase their creative talents. Brands often create stickers to connect with their customers. Some offer the stickers free in exchange for adding the company’s official account on the platforms. Through these efforts, they are able to expand their daily interaction with potential consumers by sending them messages about the latest products and promotions. Most users can unfriend these accounts later and still keep their stickers.
Popular brand mascots have also been digitized into sticker sets, turning faceless company marketing tools into emotive and memorable interactions.
Five Reasons You Should Be Using Stickers as a Marketing Tool
WeChat and LINE stickers are quick and valuable tools brands can use to reach potential consumers. Further, they personalize a brand’s image, helping connect with consumers authentically and organically. These are the five reasons your brand should consider using stickers as a marketing tactic.
- Influencer Market Branding
Influencer marketing reaches customers throughout their daily interactions. As they scroll through photos on social media timelines or listen to their favorite online accounts talk about the products that create their buzz-worthy lifestyles, consumers see these brands for the value they hold in depicting the daily lifestyles they too want.
Yet, influencers do not just have to be people. Stickers mimic personality traits and common interests through funny personas or adorable characters. When brands create their own stickers, using their logo persona or creating a memorable brand mascot, consumers identify with the brand’s personality. While logo creation in the past has been about finding sleek, attractive logos that stand out among the competition, stickers bring the brand to life. Consumers get to engage more authentically with the brand while sharing the brand’s image to other individuals in daily conversation. In its own way, these mascots recharge the brand’s traits and promote consumers’ interests, leading to new achievements in influencer marketing.
- Customer Engagement
More importantly, as these stickers are shared throughout daily conversations, they become engagement tools between consumers and brands. Brands are represented in the trials and successes of consumers. Having a place in a consumer’s conversations, the brand’s products are also seen as integral goods that can shape a person’s life. As consumers shop or consider how to achieve the lifestyles they want, they remember the way characters made them feel and the traits they possess.
This type of engagement is indirect, but powerful. They continue the engagement between consumer and brand before, during, and after shopping. They do not involve the act of bringing awareness to ad campaigns or one-on-one communication by the company. Stickers acquire longevity in their engagement between the two.
- Passive Income
Some brands may wish to sell their sticker sets rather than offer them for free as part of a promotion or sell extra sticker sets for fans of the brand. Besides being a useful marketing tool, these sticker sets can bring in passive amounts of income for the company. Even though there are thousands of sticker sets, no indication has shown that people are buying less stickers. In fact, daily new sticker sets are being created and users constantly look through these new arrivals, ready to pay a few dollars to impress their friends and family with fresh stickers. Money generated from sticker sets could be used towards other paid forms of advertising, such as KOL influencer marketing, ad campaigns, or traditional marketing avenues.
- Consumer List Building
Another popular way that brands are using stickers for marketing has been through the exchange of stickers for adding the brand as a friend on the WeChat or LINE platforms. Often these stickers are good for only a few months, normally selected to represent a holiday or promotional time for the brand. Users also have the option of unfriending the company account and still keeping the stickers for the allotted time.
Once added, the brand is able to send promotional content to the user directly through the messaging platform. Many brands send visual ads with links to websites or special offers for their consumers. In this way, the brand builds a list of consumers eager to engage with the brand and open to the type of products or services they provide. This type of advertising works well for holidays such as Mother’s Day, Back to School, or Chinese New Year when consumers are looking for specific products and welcome direct advertisement for contained amounts of time.
While many of the brands will gain closer connections with customers already familiar with the company, some new consumers might stumble upon the sticker sets and add the company because of the stickers. This is one way a brand might reach new consumers who might otherwise have never come across the brand in the first place.
- A Modern Day Referral System
Finally, stickers are excellent ways to elevate referral systems. Each time a consumer sends a sticker to a family or friend, they are also sending the face of the brand. Stickers are clickable and users are sent to that sticker set in the marketplace. Some users might choose to buy the stickers for themselves. Others might take note of the brand that created the stickers.
Either way, by sending the stickers, consumers are also putting their name behind the brand. By default, they are expressing their belief that this brand represents similar interests, personality, and lifestyle choices as the sender. Referrals have always been a useful tool in marketing as consumers often trust the word of other consumers like themselves rather than the mechanical nature of traditional advertising. Not only that, but new consumers over time also begin to recognize these brands and may remember them when it comes time to search for specific products or services.
Overall, WeChat and LINE stickers are expressive and engaging. They express more range of emotions, values, and lifestyles than emojis. Messaging platforms continue to be amazed at the growth and success of stickers within the messaging community. Brands eager to digitalize their image and engage with consumers throughout daily activities are finding stickers capable of making their messages stick.
Want to find out more about WeChat, LINE, and other unique social media advertisement possibilities? Contact our team at Tenba Group today to get your business empowered!