Interview with Joseph Leveque
Co-founder of 31Ten, A future-forward digital agency focused on China's fast-moving digital ecosystem and consumers
When living in China, a substantial portion of life circles around the powerful and versatile app called WeChat. You connect with people through text messages, voice messages, videos, you pay bills, call a taxi, order your lunch, and record and share the social aspects of your life through your 'Moments.' WeChat started off as a communication app, but by today it has grown to be a multifunctional, super tool that took China by the storm.
Hubbe.rs have reached out to Joseph, a French, English, and Chinese-speaker WeChat and Chinese social media specialist. We asked him about his extensive experience with WeChat, and how this social media tool best used for business.
1. Could you describe what WeChat is?
Upon the start of our discussion Joseph corrects me, he says WeChat isn't a social media channel but a closed ecosystem. It is not a network like Facebook where you can stumble upon your long-lost classmate ten years after graduation. Nobody finds you on WeChat; you need to be able to connect directly with the person you want to reach.
There are two types of accounts, one of them is a subscription account that is suitable for business, where you send promotions and newsletters. The other type of account is called a service account that provides beneficial services and everyday transactions without a focus on selling or buying.
WeChat's goal is to get as much screen time as possible. Currently, that is 3,5 hours average per user per day. That means more screen time than the five most popular apps together.
2. How to prepare when wanting to advertise on WeChat?
It is essential to acknowledge that WeChat is hugely saturated, everybody uses it in China. It is a costly channel, and you need good quality connections to target your potential customers.
The average opening rate of advertisements is 15 %. The bigger the brand, the lower this rate goes, around 5%. The reason for this phenomenon is that the more prominent brands use fake followers, to make them look bigger and more established.
3. What do you think what is in the future of WeChat?
- Tencent doesn't allow game companies to enter to avoid competition. However, mini-games are a new thing, and WeChat started monetizing on them.
- Brandzones: information connects to specific brands, hence when you search something related to the brand name, the page comes up. At the moment it works by invitation only, but in the future, I expect a mainstream version of it.
- Thanks to the partnership with Sogo, WeChat seems to be establishing itself as a favorite search engine.
- Currently there are lots of transactions that get done outside of the network and WeChat is making an effort to reduce these peer-to-peer key influencer-customer relationships and collect the money that a middleman earns in such transactions.
- I also expect to see the increase in price for the fake engagements.
- It is not the future because it has started already that WeChat targets to replace popular apps with their mini-programs such as KFC's. Today these mini-programs have over 400 million users, and in the future, I see this number further escalate. Many businesses and big brands are already moving over to operate as WeChat mini-programs.
4. How to persuade people to follow an official business account?
It is crucial to have specific goals and actions. You need to make sure that you communicate this message in every part of your platform. There are small steps that you can indeed do such as:
- Place your call to action message on your QR code.
- The market is busy, and many similar brands are competing for the same group of consumers and customers. Often you have a small window of opportunity to persuade potential customers to follow you. The main reasons they follow you can be that they can learn something they are interested in, get an attractive benefit or a variation of these two.
- Leverage your welcome message. Construct a meaningful, engaging content that helps you to connect with your potential customers.
5. What mistakes people do when creating their business account?
- One of the first mistake people does that they don't try to learn about their followers. In fact what they should do is to learn as much as possible. This is done either manually or with automation.
- If and when you publish your content, ensure you link it to your articles. Sometimes people assume writing content is enough but careful planning and smart strategy of linking every appearance together is essential.
- Don't make your call to action as a picture. Instead, make sure it is a text that can easily be copy & pasted and include your QR code and contact.
- Activate your comments. Such a simple thing to do, but when not enabled, you lose a significant opportunity to further connect and engage with your potential and existing customers.
- Use and analyze your reports. Learning about customer behavior can help you how to improve your customer targeting.
- Register your account, don't trust your best friend's current girlfriend or the marketing assistant, etc. with registering your official account. Although you do need a Chinese person with a local I.D. to register, ensure it is someone you can trust or you can regulate the process via legal arrangements.
- Not having a call to action is a rooky mistake. Don't assume people will flock to get your product. Give them a chance to get persuaded by a strong and targeted Call-To-Action (CTA).
- Not having a point of contact makes getting in touch more complicated. You should aim for the opposite and ensure it is as easy and fast to get in touch as possible.
- Make your content shareable. Although you can't share content with everyone, you can rely on your biggest fans, and that they will forward all your exciting content, promotions and offers to others. Hence it is in your best interest to make your content easy to share.
- Lack of strategic content planning. I recommend putting your most important message to the bottom left because most people read top to bottom, left to right.
6. What do our Hubbe.rs inventors need to opening a WeChat business account?
- Business license
- Chinese person with a local I.D.
- Trademark registered in China
- All features enabled such as WeChat payment with Chinese bank account
- Published content
Joseph is expert in WeChat digital marketing, planning & engagement. His Shanghai office also provides full agency support on the China market.