With almost 400m active users and a growing global audience, Tencent’s WeChat app is the new king of Chinese social media. Often touted as the Chinese alternative to WhatsApp, WeChat actually offers a far broader range of features and tools.
Alongside text, video and voice messaging, users in China can make mobile payments, browse ecommerce stores, play games, or book a taxi. It even offers access to an online investment fund. All this, coupled with the fact that the messaging app offers a veil of privacy cherished by young Chinese, makes it easy to see why WeChat has become central to its users’ lives.
Which in turn made it inevitable that marketers would seek to get in on the act, with official brand accounts first being made available around September 2012. WeChat has now been embraced by a huge number of Western brands, including the likes of Nike, Adidas, Coach, the NBA and British department store Harrods.
The app allows brands to communicate with consumers on a one-to-one basis, which can have a huge impact on brand loyalty if handled with care. A common tactic is to offer users exclusive content or access to special offers, which also helps to create a bond between them and the brand.