With around 846 million monthly active users, WeChat is an outstanding marketing tool for brands in China. An official WeChat account is a great way to get closer to customers, build a database and collect feedback for branding or sales purposes.
So, after registering an official WeChat account, what can you do to grow your followers? Below are some ideas that we’ve found effective.
1. Use your Current Database
For official WeChat accounts, the first batch of followers is always your current clients and colleagues as well as their friends and family. After your first article is published, share it on your Moments page and to relevant chat threads and groups. That’s the easiest and most direct way to bring traffic to your account and increase the audience for your WeChat articles.
2. Display QR Codes
QR code displays are also very powerful and should be a significant part of your online identity. Include them on all marketing materials and on all channels, such as your website, your email signature, business cards, advertising, banners, brochures and any other social media platforms. You must make sure the QR code is prominently displayed so that viewers interested in your brand can scan it and follow your account.
3. Use Offline Promotions and Events
Don’t forget offline channels. If you have offline stores, encourage customers to follow your WeChat account with incentives such as free samples or discounts. When you have offline promotions or events, you should always encourage participants and passersby to follow your WeChat account. For instance if you are doing a flyer campaign, make sure the QR code is printed on your flyers and offer a discount to new followers. If you are hosting an event, incorporate WeChat into your registration procedure, so instead of just collecting their business cards or names, let them join your database by becoming WeChat followers.
↑ One bakery brand made QR code cakes to attract followers.
4. Create Eye-catching Headlines and Use Compelling Visuals
WeChat users are fast and “lazy” so the headline and key visual of each article must stand out. Eye-catching and impressive headlines, such as a headline with a promise, a question or related to hot topics and buzzwords, encourage clicking.
If you’re having trouble finding visual ways to highlight headlines or themes, you can make a picture of the key word from the headline the visual for the article. Official accounts can publish up to 6 articles at once and it’s attractive if you do the same for each article in the set of six. This is especially powerful when you’re running WeChat campaigns.
A good WeChat article should be substantial and informative. According to recent research, 48.8% of WeChat users would share an article to their Moments page if they believe it’s valuable. You must provide content that makes the audience laugh, learn, or think while also prompting them to share it with their friends.
People love visuals. Include quality visuals, GIFs and videos in the article to support your storytelling, especially for industries like fashion, beauty or food and beverage.
6. Encourage Interaction
Getting users to interact with your posts is a significant way to boost followers. It increases page views and account exposure among target groups. This further encourages people to follow your account and become loyal customers.
Calls to action and links are important. Right below the headline, add a line to remind the audience to follow your account. At the end, remind them to share one more time, even if the article is not directly brand or sales related. Readers should also be encouraged to comment on the article. Other calls to action should also be included after the article. The most effective ones to encourage interaction are “Share with your friends,” “Share this article to your Moments feed,” and “Read more” which takes them to related articles.
QR codes are essential to encouraging interaction on WeChat. You should use your QR code at the end of articles. Readers click on them to follow your account.
7. Launch Diverse Campaigns
Campaigns are great ways to engage with audiences and increase interactivity. Although WeChat itself does not have a specific campaign function, brands can launch campaigns in creative formats, such as Q&A, voting or H5 tests and games*.
*H5 tests and games are popular social media games and quizzes made in HTML5.
It’s best to provide incentives such as discounts or gifts to motivate the audience and encourage participation. For instance, SK-II launched an H5 campaign to promote its limited edition package inspired by ink painting. Users could win the chance to receive the new edition by creating and sharing their H5 ink paintings.
It’s important to note that you need to watch out for rules and regulations! In April 2016, WeChat officially announced the issuing of a wide set of bans for campaigns including fake information or prizes, spamming and forcing/inducing sharing, etc. When launching WeChat campaigns, remember to construct them in a smart and creative way that will positively attract followers.
8. Cross-Promote with Other Accounts
Account cross-promotion is best when WeChat accounts have the same number of followers, share a similar target group and have something in common but are not direct competitors. After establishing a partnership, these accounts will publish articles introducing each other on their own WeChat accounts or run a joint benefits campaign utilizing each other’s fan base.
Star Cruises launched a joint giveaway campaign with sasa.com, the e-commerce branch of SaSa cosmetics retailer group. Star Cruises provided free tickets for the campaign that launched on SaSa’s WeChat, in order to attract followers from the Guangdong area and raise awareness about its new party cruises.
The biggest advantage of cross-promotion is that you can boost followers without a large budget as the cooperation model allows you to exchange resources without any monetary involvement. However, if you are just starting out and have no followers, it may be difficult to find a brand willing to cooperate. In this situation, WeChat KOL promotion may be a better choice.
9. Do KOL Promotions
WeChat KOLs (key opinion leaders) are popular accounts that have already accumulated large numbers of subscribers. Brands can find KOLs through keyword searches on WeChat or through marketing agencies with WeChat KOL databases. The cooperation model usually requires you to prepare or confirm the content with KOLs who then publish it on their WeChat accounts to promote your brand. These posts are usually sponsored by brands, and the price is set by the KOLs themselves, according to their number of followers or average page views. It can vary from 4,000 RMB to 200,000 RMB per article (and more).
Note that regulations for KOLs are not as stringent in mainland China as they are in some other locations in terms of declaring whether posts are sponsored so KOLs do not need to add special tags or formats to their sponsored posts to indicate this arrangement.
10. Invest in WeChat Advertising
WeChat advertising is an effective way to boost followers in the early stages. Make sure you have built a reasonable amount of content before launching an advertising campaign. It’s impossible to convert visitors into followers if there isn’t enough content to attract them.
WeChat officially provides two advertising options for verified official accounts: Moments Ads and Account Ads.
This allows a brand’s advertisement to show in the Moments feed of your target audience. The lowest budget for a Moments Ad campaign is 50,000 RMB, and the price can fluctuate depending on the target cities and specific interest groups.
Another flexible and cost-efficient option is an Account Ad. Advertisers can also target a specific audience group and the advertisement is shown at the end of articles of well-known WeChat accounts (also called “publishers”) with high subscription counts and page views.
You can promote your brand in four different ways with Account Ads: encourage people to follow your account, encourage users to download your app, provide a coupon or visit your campaign/promotion page. It uses the CPC model and the bidding system starts from 0.5 RMB per click. Usually the advertisement will stay active for 3-5 days and it’s best to optimize it every three days.
As a super popular and highly regulated platform, WeChat provides great potential and opportunities for brand marketing in China. Understanding your audience, complying with the regulations and taking advantage of different approaches as you boost followers will turn WeChat into a strong tool that can further serve your marketing needs and build a targeted database.
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