Instant messages, a limit of 2000 characters by posts, pictures grids, short videos, Weibo’s functionalities look similar to Twitter, used in western countries. At the beginning, Weibo was made for personal use but more and more brands are active on Weibo because companies can build databases, promote their brand image and drive traffic to their website.
According to Statista, as of the first quarter of 2021, Weibo’s monthly active users amounted to around 530 million. Weibo is not only a tool for boosting brands’ visibility, but also a tool for brands to better understand Chinese audiences and get closer to customers.
Here are the good practices of doing marketing for brands on Weibo :
Building brands’ notoriety through search function
Using search function allows the user to find posts related to keywords on the research box. By jumping on trending topics, brands’ posts will be kept under the topics related to the post’s description.
Besides, the posts can be consulted at any time and by everyone, unlike the companys’ accounts on Wechat where users have to subscribe to be aware of the latest publications.
As for famous events like Chinese New Year, 520 Festival (as known as Valentine’s Day) or the upcoming 618 Shopping Festival (as known as the largest mid-year shopping festival in China), brands are launching presales campaigns for ongoing products or limited edition products.
Chaumet, the French luxury jewelry and watchmaking brand, has chosen as brand ambassador the famous Chinese actor and singer Zhang Yixing (Lay Zhang) for a series of love-themed jewelry.
Weibo’s account of Chaumet about luxury jewelry for 520 Festival
Content share facilities
Cross-channel is the key. When scrolling down the timeline, users can easily share a post from Weibo to Wechat. 2 options will be suggested : create a post on the user’s Wechat account (it will appear on friends’ Wechat Moments) or send to a friend by message (private traffic). After going through Wechat, the user can go back to Weibo and keep on browsing or stay on Wechat.
Creating a post on Wechat including a Weibo’s link
Sending a message to a friend on Wechat including a Weibo’s link
Weibo’s user journey highlights these types of actions :
Through its partnership with Taobao, Weibo users can put links to Taobao store and products’ page in their posts.
Video of @kakakaoo about L’Oreal lipstick on Weibo
Targeting is quite precise on Weibo and the Chinese audiences’ ages vary from 14 to 60 years old. Brands can tailor campaigns in the format of display ads or Weibo search engine promotion.
Selling via live streaming
As on Douyin, Wechat and Xiaohongshu, buying during a live streaming is one of the best time selling opportunities since live broadcasting gives the viewers the feeling of proximity and authenticity with the broadcaster.
If you use Wechat, you have probably been using Wechat Channels, a section launched since January 2020, accessed through the Discover part of the Chinese super-app, right underneath Wechat Moments.
Wechat Channels is a public feed of video and photo content, which can be searched using keywords and hashtags.
Wechat Channels is build through social connections
Wechat Channels is working on 4 different feeds :
Accounts you follow
Content that your contacts have liked
Real-time trending content
Content posts according to your actual location (only if you give the right in the parameters)
As a brand, your content could be liked, thus appearing on their friends’ Wechat Channels. Consequently they could like your content as well or just scroll down, and that is raising your brand’s awareness.
Short video is highly recommended
Short video marketing is an indispensable part of a brand’s digital journey in China. Wechat Channels mostly highlight short videos because people want to see fun and entertaining animated content. Video shares are a powerful indicator to consider.
Wechat tends to recommend other similar content to people and it can help brands to reach more potential target audiences.
Drive traffic inside Wechat
Starting with a video seen on Wechat Channels, people could click on your brand’s official Wechat account or click on your product’s page and Wechat mini-program if you provided it.
The shop is linked to Wechat account on which cooking tools are sold (on the second picture above : mini rice cooker and hot plate)
DTC brands are taking advantages of Wechat Channels
Using Wechat Channels is a good way for Direct-to-consumer brands to deliver products directly to customers without going through an intermediary. Consequently the delivery process is faster and more personalized.
Besides, consumer data is easier collected for brands to improve their CRM system.
Example of customer journey through Wechat Channels
有问题，上知乎 ! (For any questions, ask Zhihu) is the slogan of Zhihu, a Chinese platform where you can get answers for all kinds of topics.
With 220 million registered users, Zhihu is a real tool of trust since it creates interactions of questions and answers between a group of people around a subject.
To begin with, why is Zhihu essential to brands ?
Online reputation management in China impacts so much on a brand’s image and visibility. Chinese search engine results and social media platforms are effective tools used for increasing online reputation. The best way to make a brand visible on the Chinese market is to implement a global marketing strategy on the main social media including Wechat, Xiaohongshu, Weibo, Douyin and Zhihu. Thus, by developing your strategy and raising brand awareness on Zhihu, you increase your brand’s visibility and build effective long-term promotion.
Besides, using Zhihu is also a tool to improve a brand’s Search Engine Optimization thanks to a high domain authority on Baidu, consequently one Zhihu page will be displayed on a Baidu search engine result page, no matter what the date of publication is.
But except from being a community-based platform, Zhihu is now seen as a lever for doing business.
Here are some new functions added on Zhihu :
Brands and Product Recommendation Program :
Brands (Chinese or foreign brands) can post articles or answer questions related to their products by linking to a product on their websites or e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, Pinduoduo or Sunning. It is the best way to drive traffic and to help effectively potential customers.
For example, on the pictures below, a user asked for a liquid foundation. After describing her bad experiences with luxury brands like Armani, Lancôme or Estée Lauder, she is looking for any recommendation for other liquid foundations adapted to dried skin.
Among the answers she received, several products like Make Up For Ever’s foundation were recommended with the product’s details and application advice. If the user clicks on the button “去购买” (purchase) on the right, he is redirecting to the product page.
Recommendation on cosmetics products with product’s links
Creators can also link their products to the shop (商品橱窗) on their Zhihu account main page. Besides, livestreaming sessions now include a shopping icon that leads the users directly to the product page on e-commerce platforms or leads to the creator’s store on Zhihu. Briefly, everything is done to facilitate the customer journey within Zhihu.
Creator’s jewelry store clickable on the creator’s main page
Raising trust through experts’ insights :
Zhihu uses knowledge, information, and personal experience that could influence the decision-making process of any potential consumer before purchasing. But the other main point of Zhihu now is the presence of experts including writers, scientists and businessmen that show legitimacy to the users.
Entertainment and inspiration on Zhihu :
If some users are looking for answers to specific questions, others just want to have fun on Zhihu. Films, videos, documentaries, and even TV series can be streaming and creators can receive a commission based on video views as well.
The following picture shows a video introducing the interior design style from North European countries. By displaying a series of pictures, it gives inspiration on house decoration for fans of design.
Video introducing the interior design style from North European countries
Zhihu is a free platform but users can take advantage of special contents or flash sales if they belong to the VIP club.
According to the topics you are interested in, a selection of articles or most popular contents is recommended on the membership tab.
Do you know that WeChat is also for B2B marketing? In Western countries, B2B industry gives less attention to social media for brand awareness and lead generation. However, visibility on social media in China is critical for B2B companies. WeChat is worth for marketing campaign for B2B businesses. But how to succeed with WeChat B2B marketing?
Why is WeChat important for B2B marketing?
Any business in China has its own WeChat official account. It has become a powerful marketing channel to reach a targeted audience.
WeChat is a great tool for businesses to leverage your products to Chinese clients.
WeChat monthly active users have reached more than 1.1 billion! It is really the smart app that Chinese people are using 24 hours a day in their life and at work.
WeChat has also a quick search engine then many people are using it for quick search.
If you do not have a WeChat official account, you are not visible from your customers, suppliers, leads, then you do not really exist.
It is better to have a WeChat official account rather than a Website in China.
What are the main features of your WeChat account?
Of course WeChat allows users to send documents such as powerpoint, pdf, excel files which is quite convenient. It is the commun way to exchange documents in China.
WeChat is also a messaging app for business use, it replaces the email.
It is the message that a customer first follow your account, will receive. This welcome message introduces the account, promote the recent campaigns. It is important message as it is the first impression given to new customers.
WeChat offers an in-app translation tool which is quite convenient to use in business communication between western countries and China.
It really helps the communication with the audience.
It is possible to send group messages to your target audience, according to location, gender. It is helpful for targetted marketing.
WeChat gives you the possibility to add up to 3 menu categories, and under eacg category, you can have up to 5 sub-menus.
The menu can lead to a message, an app page, a website.
Some best practices for B2B WeChat marketing
Content is king
Social media is about content. The right content will bring you the right followers.
Getting followers on WeChat is the main challenge. It is therefore important to identify what type of content your audience is looking for. You can check what your competitors are posting in China.
Your content need to be appealing, interactive, original.
Also your content must be shareable. Marketing on WeChat purpose is to encourage sharing .
WeChat encourages one to one sharing and group sharing. Encouraging sharing is not limited to your audience. It is good to encourage your employees to share the content to their own contacts, as employee advocacy is quite effective.
Join WeChat groups
WeChat groups are where users with the same interests exchange ideas, share some informations or knowledges. It can be up to 500 people per group. Find and join WeChat groups related to your industry or market. If your content is value to them, you will get new followers and get some interesting comments.
Set up customer support
People like to contact a brand directly in WeChat after they become your followers. It is then important to make easy for them to contact you through mail or phone. You can set up also some auto-replies.
Be active on WeChat
Users will unsuscribed your account if it is not frequently updated. You need to make sure have your account consistenly updated.
Do you need support to succeed with B2B WeChat marketing ?
WeChat marketing is a great tool for businesses to leverage your products and services to the Chinese customers. But it is also a must have to be visible in China.
Through WeChat, you can also educate your market, engage your audience, and so much more!
If you need some help on WeChat marketing, do not hesitate to contact us.
Sell to China with cross-border WeChat e-shop is a smart investment for new brands looking to enter China market.
Cross-Border refers to an online trade between a business and a consumer located in a different country through marketplace platforms and e-commerce sites.
The Covid-19 has put the cross-border at the forefront with international travel shutdown.
Cross-border commerce has become a quite effective way for international companies to develop into China market without setting up a company in China.
It is quite attractive for SME, or for new brands to test the market before investing further.
Cross-border commerce is a relay of growth for brands outside of China to start entering the Chinese market while minimizing the risk.
China is a digital mobile country where you can do everything on mobile, especially on WeChat. You can sell to China with cross-border WeChat e-shop.
Social Selling with WeChat in China is growing fast. Social commerce is growing at 40% rate versus 20% for traditional e-commerce. It represents already USD360 billions in China versus USD 36 billions in US.
CBEC (Cross-border e-commerce) represents more than $100 billions in 2020, including social commerce.
All these numbers show that it is the smart choice for international companies to enter China with CBEC if not yet in China, and that social commerce can be the first step. This is even more true for SME.
How to enter and sell to China market for new brands?
Branding is first in China. Without brand e-reputation and awareness, you cannot succeed.
First step to enter China is to develop your brand awareness on Chinese social media, WeChat and Weibo in particular.
It will take 2 years about to establish your brand in China.
With WeChat, you will nurture your leads and develop a community. WeChat has lots of tools which can help you to grow your community and brand awareness, as it is really at the heart of the customer journey.
Then you can start to sell your products with WeChat with an e-shop.
Sell to China with cross-border WeChat e-shop, is really the most cost effective way to test or enter the market for SME or small brands.
WeChat stores give the brands the opportunity of entering the market step by step. The cross-border store is leveraging WeChat power to build a direct relationship with your customers.
Later-on when you are ready committing substantial investment, you can open store on Tmall global or JD.com worldwide, or any other platforms. In parallel, you must keep your social selling on WeChat as social selling will continue to grow in China in coming years.
When you will open stores on main traditional e-commerce platforms, you should consider a cross-platform strategy to be put in place.
Regarding comparison between main Ecommerce platforms and WeChat shop, herein for reference:
WeChat social commerce is a good China market entry point for western brands to enter China thanks to its integrated ecosystem
Tmall or JD.com are promotion heavy platforms with dominating traffic resource, more suitable for well known brands. You need ready to invest for long term
The WeChat store
The shop itself is built within WeChat, and linked with your official account.
The consumer will use a smartphone to browse products in your WeChat store. It is only one click away from making a purchase.
Then She/he will use WeChat pay to pay in one click.
Without leaving WeChat, consumers can finish a closed-loop purchasing process from learning about your products to finishing the payment.
When set up a WeChat store, it also requires to integrate the payment method with WeChat pay, to connect the shop with a warehouse, to register in China customs, and tie into a foreign payment gateway in the backend.
Of course, the WeChat store must be built in Chinese.
Strategy of CBEC shipping
In China, it is better to have short time delivery. It is then better to organize the supply Chain using the bonded importing model.
Many e-commerce pilot zones/free trade zones have been set up. You can then store your goods in a bonded warehouse in China mainland. The bonded warehouse model is more suitable for higher sales volumes and long-term solution.
On the payment is completed in WeChat, the logistic operator at the free trade zone connected to the WeChat store clears customs and dispatch the product.
Most of the FTZ logistics operators manage the WeChat stores stocks, inventories and distribution.
It is also possible to use the personal parcel or Business commercial shipping at the very start of entering China, but it gives longer delivery time. It is called the direct shipping model, products are shipped one by one.
Opening a Cross-border shop in WeChat
It is a project by itself.
It requires to follow a process and planning to be managed. It takes between one and 2 months to accomplish all steps.
We recommend brands to use a digital marketing expert with CBEC expertise to open a cross-border shop in WeChat together with the opening of the official account.
Emotion Digital can support your strategy to enter into China, help you to set up your WeChat marketing solutions and CBEC WeChat store.
Sell to China with cross-border WeChat e-shop is the right approach to enter China for unknown or small brands in China.
Benefit from our integrated Chinese social media approach with expertise on WeChat marketing to increase your brand awareness, boost and nurture your leads and sales.
Contact us, if you want to know more about China cross-border e-commerce and China marketing.
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A WeChat official account makes the company look more legitimate. In China, your WeChat official account is also your website.
The WeChat official account is the brand interface with Chinese consumers in WeChat. Via the official account, the brand can obtain followers, send them information, it is the place where consumers can purchase the brand’s products with WeChat store. You can also develop Social Selling with WeChat in China
How to open a WeChat official account for your business in China?
Opening via a Chinese company
You will need to give the business license of your company in China, to give access to the bank account of the company, the Chinese ID of a Chinese citizen of the company with a WeChat payment account linked to his bank card
Your account will have your name and business description, but will be linked to the legal entity which has created the account
It is a good way to start quickly and you can still transfer your subscribers in future if you open an account directly
Opening via your company overseas
It is a case by case application with authorization from Tencent
The advantage is that you will get an account fully controlled by you but it can takes several weeks to get the account open
We know that many western companies have difficulties to manage themselves all the issues of the opening. For this reason, Emotion Digital can manage the accounts creation on your behalf.
After your WeChat account is open, you are now ready to configure it. It is important to configure it in line with Chinese users expectations, and to start to produce high quality and visual contents according to your marketing strategy.
And finally, remember that on WeChat, your Brand is a friend, interacting with all followers to create relationships. It is the right solution to nurture your leads to get customers.
But you need to be able to use the right language and communication that speaks to your Chinese audience. It is why you need an expert in China to support the management of your social accounts.