What are the main differences with WeChat for brands marketing?
Marketers in China tend to compare WeChat marketing to XiaoHongShu marketing. The major reason is that both WeChat and XiaoHongShu are the most popular App in China when it comes to Chinese social media.
Before discussing the differences regarding brand marketing, as a user, there are fundamentally differences between these two apps. WeChat, it is an all-in-one messaging app. We can describe it as a “Chinese WhatsApp” combined with some functions of Apple Pay, Facebook, and Twitter. The fact is that It is a must-use app in China, as it provides nearly everything an individual needed in daily life including communication, new feed from the media and friends, online shopping, and E-Wallets. For the XiaoHongShu, it is more likely a Chinese version of the Instagram combined with an e-commerce platform. It focuses on sharing content of daily life experience, consumer products, and services. And, for sure, two of them include online shopping platform for brands. WeChat focuses only on the brand page itself, however, the content and online shop of XiaoHongShu are well integrated. (Discuss further in the next question)
For the consideration of brand marketing, both the usage of WeChat and XiaoHongShu are different but equally important. Generally, the differences are targeting and consumer’s decision-making journey. Regarding the target group, the age range of the users between WeChat and XiaoHongShu are not the same. The majority of WeChat users are 25-year-old to 45-year-old. However, the major XiaoHongShu users, over 50%, are between the ages of 18-35 and are living in Tier 1 and 2 cities in China.
For the consumers’ decision-making journey, the stage of WeChat is different from the XiaoHongShu. WeChat is mainly for the ready buyer or existing customers. XiaoHongShu is for someone who is in the stage of awareness to consideration. It is not that easy to get a prospect to be engaged with a brand’s WeChat account. Mostly, people will engage with a WeChat business account only if they are purchasing items from the brand. Nevertheless, once you are an active user of the app, there are millions and millions of ways that you can be reached by a brand such as using influencer marketing, display ad, search engine optimization, etc.
For example, in the area of the traveling industry, travel agencies and hotels will tend to use WeChat marketing to maintain the relationship with their existing customers and prospects that they served before in retail shops or online. They will execute re-marketing in their official WeChat Business account such as updating their latest promotion, educating traveling tips and sharing recommended tours. Indeed, in the view of Chinese marketers, WeChat marketing is similar to email marketing. It is always suitable to do Re-marketing and good for the warm market.
However, for the XiaoHongShu, the target audience will be the generation z and the millennials. The traveling agency will prefer to use content marketing and influencer marketing to promote its brand. Soft selling and word of mouth are significant in the eye of generation z and especially the middle-class audience with high education. Traveling agencies or hotels might prefer to employ influencers to promote their traveling services, and at the same time, start managing their official fans page in XiaoHongShu in order to gain consumer’s confidence towards their brand. Last but not least, more and more sightseeing spots had become famous because of XiaoHongShu.
The traveling industry will undoubtedly rely stronger on XiaoHongShu in the future.
What are the best practices to use XiaoHongShu for brand marketing?
When it comes to executing a marketing campaign by using XiaoHongShu, there are several ways that have been proven effective. In general, it includes content marketing, Key Opinion Leader (KOL) marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and digital display advertising.
To begin with, using content marketing is the simplest and basic way to do marketing in XiaoHongShu. Content marketing is a form of marketing focused on content creating, publishing, and distributing for a targeted audience online. The marketer will set up an official business account in XiaoHongShu for their company or clients. The official business account displays the company introduction, product, and service. After setting up a business account, similar to the business account on Instagram, the target audience and potential customers could continuously follow the brand’s latest update and promotion. XiaoHongShu users simply have to search your brand with the brand name or relevant hashtag that represents your brand, then the brand profile will be showed on the search result. Users can also click the button and then chose whether they prefer email you, call you, send a message or find your location directly. Furthermore, the brand can also promote their product or service by continuously update their new feed with professional copywriting to engage further with their followers. Secondly, an official business account can also accept payment. The brand can sell their product directly in their account.
For the most significant practice of using XiaoHongShu marketing, it is Key Opinion Leader marketing (Influencer Marketing). There is no doubt that using KOL marketing is the most important and effective way to market the brand in XiaoHongShu. KOL marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on targeting key industry opinion leaders to deliver brand message and awareness to a specific market of existing or potential consumers. It is not a new term when it comes to marketing in Facebook or Instagram. However, it is far more effective in XiaoHongShu. People in China like to follow and listen to the trend as well as the opinion from the influencer online. They love to obtain brand information by word of mouth. This kind of culture can always shift the purchasing decision from recommending to purchasing.
To applying KOL marketing in XiaoHongShu, marketers in China will set strategies for the influencers marketing campaign including awareness generation, increasing the popularity of the brand or conversion. Then, marketers will identify influencers. In XiaoHongShu, there are three major types of influencers consisting of celebrities, key opinion leaders, and micro-influencers. According to the traffic distribution, there are about 80% of traffics comes from the head accounts. The engagement rate and the reach of those major accounts are always higher than the other account in the community. That is the reason why this is a phrase called “KOL economy” in China.
Apart from the elements discussed above, search engine optimization (SEO) and digital display advertising are additional technics that can also be applied in the marketing campaign on the XiaoHongShu. Some marketing firms in China provide the service of search engine optimization. This service is similar with the Google Ad and SEO service on Google. It increases the quantity and quality of traffic distribution of the particular post. It also enhances the possibility of being in the top 10 search results of some particular keywords related to your post. For the digital display advertising, it is nothing more than a Google Display Ad.
At the end of the end, the economy model of XiaoHongShu depends heavily on the content of the users. This marketing menthol will still workable in the foreseeable future.
What are the most recent functionalities of XiaoHongShu?
XiaoHongShu was only an online community to share life experience and recommendation when it was founded in 2013. Over the past 7 years of development, it has grown into today’s sharing community e-commerce platform that includes items from worldwide luxury brands to daily necessities.
Now, XiaoHongShu provides the user with a community communication platform that can share 18 areas of topic such as beauty, fashion, skincare, movie, business, music, and celebrities, etc. It provides also some content services for users who do not have clear shopping goals or intention to do shopping. For example, more and more topics are about the workplace, social life, education, and research. Then, it uses an AI machine to automatically extract and filer data to match the content with user behaviors and interests and preferences. The core dimensions of its algorithm are the user profile, user behavior, and keywords searching. After that, the result will be displayed in the “Recommendation” on the user’s first page.
Another potential function of XiaoHongShu is that they are going to launch a live streaming function. In view of the ongoing craze of live streaming, XiaoHongShu is testing a live-streaming feature to drive user engagement and boost its e-commerce business. It believes that this feature will increase interaction by allowing live streamers to have real-time communication with their followers.
Third, XiaoHongShu is starting to solve a crisis of consumers’ confidence over the products on its platform. The fact is that the controversy over sales of counterfeit goods and questionable products is nothing new over the years in China. A lot of users believe that the platform is full of false reviews and comments. However, XiaoHongShu is starting to review and filter the fake account and false statement. It increases the difficulties of the marketer to carry out the influencers marketing campaign in XiaoHongShu.
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