Thursday, July 20th, 2017 | 5 min read
Founded in early 2011 as an innovation project by telecommunications giant Tencent, WeChat was conceived as a way to maintain the firm’s influence as social messaging began to take off.
What was initially developed as a business-oriented mobile messaging service – similar in nature to Slack – gradually became a dominant force that serves an alternative to email, text messaging, and countless other digital processes. And with other large social channels banned in China, WeChat has grown to stunning heights.
The platform has adapted well to an increasingly complex and competitive digital environment, and is now used by millions of consumers and businesses alike.
WeChat boasts all the typical features of social platforms such as the ability to comment, like, and send emoticons. After downloading the app and creating an individualized account using a mobile phone number, users can video chat, use instant group messages, send and edit multimedia content, and access news and other data all within the WeChat platform.
While many networks end with these now-standard communication functions, WeChat has become a comprehensive, one-stop destination for almost all consumer and brand needs. The app provides everything from a built-in pedometer (WeRun) for the fitness-minded, to the WeRead e-reader, to MP3 compatibility and extensive gaming options in-app.
Through the integration of features like WeChat pay, WeChat QR (quick response) codes, and the ability to create “official accounts,” WeChat is transforming its simple mobile-messaging platform into the digital marketing and business landscape of the future.
In the emerging Chinese marketplace, the vast majority of the WeChat user base falls in the 25 to 40 age range, a group with a relatively high amount of disposable income. And with some of the highest user return rates and time logged on of any social platform globally, the WeChat community is extremely attractive to marketers.
WeChat offers brands a variety of advertising and digital content solutions to help them reach consumers. With its highly popular WeChat Moments capabilities (a service similar to Facebook’s timeline, that over 50% of of users access every time they open the app), WeChat has begun to offer video advertisement options for brands alongside the previously offered display and local ads.
Beyond the ability to track brand trends through the WeChat Index, companies can also use HTML based landing pages accessible via specific QR codes to drive campaign awareness and promotional engagement.
These advertising solutions are coupled with WeChat’s unique ‘official accounts’ offerings, which are located alongside ordinary user accounts and can facilitate everything from payments and orders, to ratings and addressing customer complaints.
WeChat pay is one of the platform’s most compelling in-app features for brands. It represents a major step in the evolution of e-banking, as it offers consumers integrated payment opportunities for online and in-person purchases alike.
The features also offers businesses the opportunity to interact with customers through purchasing, fundraising, sweepstakes and advertising.
By allowing users to pay for everything – from healthcare and utility bills, to meals and plane tickets – with the click of one button, WeChat has revolutionized the mobile internet and adapted itself to the evolving needs of digital consumers.
WeChat offers a multitude of attractive resources for marketers. In addition to sitting at the forefront of the mobile social advertising revolution, the platform offers access to one of the most attractive consumer markets in the world.
By facilitating nearly every interaction throughout the customer lifecycle, WeChat brings consumers and brands together in ways that were previously unimaginable. All companies with an interest in China would be wise to take note.
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