Within the ever-shifting world of social media marketing in China, there is one platform that is definitely the center of focus. No, it is not Douyin or Little Red Book. While these are definitely popular right now and are trending in China. WeChat still dominates China’s social media scene and no one comes close to it.
But even if WeChat is the most recognized social media app and channel to market and grow your business in China, there is surprisingly very little information (at least in English) on how content actually works on the app and how to leverage it to grow your brand in China the right way.
I’m not talking about information on WeChat official account, WeChat mini-program, WeChat advertising, or WeChat marketing campaigns or e-commerce on WeChat, these have been covered to death. I’m talking about how contents are actually consumed by users on WeChat, how to create a WeChat content strategy that ROIs, and how to create viral and engaging contents on WeChat.
So here, I dedicate to my fellow business owner, enraptures, marketers, and brand ambassadors with a guide on How to Create WeChat Contents that Actually ROIs
The Difference Between Content on WeChat Service Account vs Subscription
I want to quickly go over the difference between how content is consumed by someone that is subscribed to a Subscription official account vs a service official account. While there are many articles out there stating the major difference between the two, at least when it comes to pushing content to your subscribers is that with subscription accounts you can push once a day while with service you can only push 4 times per month.
But what they don’t really talk about is how the articles are received by the user which makes a rather big difference. With subscription because all subscription-only shows up under the subscription folder of the user’s chat list whenever a new article is published the user only see the number of new “messages(article)” that have not been viewed yet from all subscription accounts they’ve subscribed to. They don’t actually know which account has an update until the open the folder.
With service account, however, you show up as another “friend” on their WeChat conversion list whenever you push a piece of content it is actually push through as chat message and the user is notified as if a friend has just sent them a new message.
So, which WeChat official account type is better for you?
You can really have both, but if you can only manage one account then we highly recommend the service account instead of a subscription account for business looking to engage or promote their product/services.
While a lot of “experts” may make the argument that service account will only allow you to push 4 times a month and subscription accounts allow you to literally push contents daily. But why would you want to push content daily anyway? Unless you’re looking to become a media or content publisher you really don’t need to push more than 4 to 8 pieces of content per month.
Remember these are articles, they’re not social posts like what you would do on Weibo, Instagram, and Facebook.
How WeChat’s Algorithm Actually Work
This is actually a pretty easy question to answer because WeChat “social algorithm” is rather limited and not like other social media platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn, rather WeChat has more of an SEO algorithm instead.
Let me explain…
Unlike Facebook Page where you can either choose to share other people’s content on the internet or create your own posts that will show up in your “followers” newsfeeds and if it gains a lot of traction or engagement (such as likes, comments, or share) the article will actually show up in other people’s newsfeed who are not followers of your page thus “going viral” because of Facebook’s algorithm.
With WeChat official accounts, on the other hand, you’re are more of a media publisher rather than a friend being social and sharing something interesting or funny.
This is because every time you publish a new “post”, it does not show up in your subscribers moments but rather as stated above, it is either in the subscription folder or in your service account’s chat window ( see below) and WeChat does not have an algorithm that will share your content on other user’s moments who may also be interested in your content either not unless it shows up under “Top Stories (看一看) ” or your subscriber manually share it on their own personal moments.
This small and fundamental different make all the difference when it comes to how brands and business approach marketing using WeChat. Most foreign brands who are experienced and successful with Instagram or Facebook believes that using WeChat to grow brand presence will be similar in nature but it is not so…
With the introduction of WoW button which replaces the like button, there is a bit more chance of your articles being shared and view by your subscribers’ friends but for the most part, WeChat is a pretty closed social media app.
The New WoW Button if Your Best Friend
For those of you who are not familiar with the New Button. A little over a few months ago WeChat officially replaced the “Like” button at the end of every article to a “WoW” button instead and the only difference between the two other than the “text” is that whenever someone WoW your article, all their friends on their WeChat friend list will have your article appeared in their WoW articles lists under the Top Story tab.
This means that the more people you can get to “WoW” your article the more likely it will get discovered by people who may not be following your account yet and the more likely it will be shared on their moments, thus increasing view counts and potentially even go viral.
Why Creating Good Content Does Not Work on WeChat!
WeChat is rather a close social media platform if you would even consider it a social media platform… It is much more like a chat app which is what it was designed for initially anyway. However, WeChat does have a social element to it, called moments and it is often compared to Facebook’s newsfeed.
But unlike Facebook what you share on moments are only visible to your immediate friend’s list and no one else, this means unless it gets shared by your friends, the only way to get more exposure is to grow your friend’s list.
On top of that, unless you have someone’s WeChat ID or have them scan your QR code to add you as a friend, there is no other way for them to discover you on WeChat either (I’m not counting the People Nearby & Shake function here). This makes “social marketing” on WeChat 10X harder because the social element of the App is extremely limited.
Ok, so what does this has to do with content marketing on WeChat?
Due to all these factors, your content strategy on WeChat needs to be 10X better and what type of contents you create becomes vitally important!
Purpose Driven Content Strategy
One of my pet peeves when it comes to content marketing is that most business and marketers believe it’s just about creating content. Now some get a bit smarter and realize that it has to be content that potentially solves a problem for the user and this is why we’re not seeing an explosion of “how-to” or “top X” type of content everywhere on the internet that pretty much all say the same thing.
Don’t get me wrong these contents are required and has their places but there is so much more than content marketing than just creating “how-to” contents.
To develop an awesome content strategy for Wechat, I believe that every piece of content should be purpose-driven and there are a total of 12 purposes that I can come up with right now but there could be more.
Purpose of Your Contents:
- Sell your Products
- Generate a Lead
- Move the Prospect down the pipeline
- Sell your brand story
- Handle sales objections
- Build trust
- Build an emotional connection with the Brand
- Grow brand awareness
- Build brand loyalty
- Introduce a new product
- Establish industry thought leadership
- Build goodwill…
All your content on WeChat should fall into one of these categories and there should be a strategy around it but most businesses are stuck using only one, two and may three types of contents and that’s it.
Understanding the Anatomy of WeChat Articles
Let’s talk about how WeChat articles are sort of structure and layout because it matters when it comes to getting users to engage with your content.
First, a typical WeChat article is more of a blog post rather than a social post. On the very top, you’ll have the close button, followed by the name of the official account and the options menu for sharing, etc..
Right after the top bar, you’ll have the title of the article followed by the meta information of the article such as the author name, the post date, whether the article is original or shared from another WeChat official account and finally the name of the account again.
From here on, the article really begins and how it is structure will vary from Arthur to another. At the very end of the article, depending on the account there will usually be a bio, a bunch of QR, and banner ad. After all of that, you finally get to the View Counts, “WoW” button, and then comments.
So really, it’s like your typical blog post but on WeChat. However, unlike your average blog post, which is designed, layout and structure by your website developer, you’ve no control over the structure of a WeChat article. It is the way it is. This means that even if you want to add a WoW button on the very top of the article you cannot.
But why is all of this important?
It is important because in order for a user to WoW and comment on your article they will have to either actually read the entire article or scroll all the way down. Whereas on Facebook, Instagram and other social media the user can just like, share and comment on the post without having to actually read the whole thing.
This means if you want people to engage with your content on WeChat you’ll either have to be a damn good writer that can keep people entice and engaged if you have a very long article or write very useful or entertain short articles so people can get to the WoW and comment section of the article.
Factors that Contribute to the Engagement of a WeChat Articles
There are many factors that contribute to the engagement of a WeChat article but here are a few we know that you should pay attention to.
- Number of Subscribers: This one should be obvious the more subscribers you have the better odds you’ll have with user engagement on your content.
- How Relevant Your Article is to Your Subscriber: Having 10,000 engaged and subscriber who are interested and engaged with your brand and content is far better than having 10 million who don’t care.
- How Emotionally Engaging, Useful, or Entertaining: Certain type of posts/article will typically be more engaging than others. Posts that are emotionally engaging, useful, or entertaining are going to get more WoW, comments, and shares.
- How Long or Short Your Article: Generally speaking the longer a post/article is the more talented writer you’ll need to keep people engaged by telling great stories.
Top Stories and How it Works
If you don’t know yet, but there is actually a “Top Stories” button on under your WeChat settings. This is where all the “Top Stories (看一看)” and “WoW” articles will show up for you. If you’re friend “WoW” and article it will show up on the “WoW” tab. What’s interesting about the “WoW” tab is that it not only listed all the articles your friends have WoWed but it also shows you the comments they’ve left it they left any.
It also allows you to WoW and comments the article without ever having to actually read it. Now, why can’t WeChat do that for Subscription folder?
The “Top Stories” tab features all the well most popular articles on WeChat right now (I think), although they’re not all WeChat official accounts articles, and view count doesn’t seem to be what causes the article to consider Top.
Most of the articles listed on Top are usually news or celebrity news, at least as of right now I not entirely sure how an article shows up on the Top Stories list but WeChat does tell you if a friend has viewed a Top Story article.
How to Rank for WeChat SEO
Yes, WeChat does have and search function and it does have an SEO algorithm similar to that of Baidu but even less sophisticated. While the search is actually still pretty new to WeChat, based on our testing and experience here are a few key factors that WeChat considers when ranking different official account posts.
- Keyword on Title: Having a keyword in the title of your article/post will help.
- Keyword Structure & Density: How often the keyword is used in your article/post and the density will also help.
- Article Quality: The quality of the article/post will also help with WeChat SEO ranking.
- Engagement: Getting view counts, engagement, WoW, shares and comments will help your ranking as well.
- Verified & Trusted Official Account: WeChat will favorite verified accounts vs unverified accounts.
Apart from all of that you can actually bid on specific keywords to rank your articles higher although not many people are paying for it right now. Most people still prefer to run moments of ads. This is because the majority of WeChat users don’t really use the search or Top Stories function as much as they check their moments
To conclude, here is a listed of key points in this article.
- Content marketing is much harder than most other social media platforms.
- WeChat is a very closed social media platform, so you’ll need to create damn good contents so people will share it and thus increase your brand exposure.
- Articles and posts on Subscription account will easily get berried in the subscription folder.
- The only chance of your article or post going viral is if it shows under “Top Stories” tab.
- All your content should be purpose driven whether it is to make a sale, increase brand royalty, etc…
- WeChat has SEO and there is a way to optimize your content for WeChat SEO.
- The new “WoW” button will help to increase the likely hood of your content being shared and even go viral.
- Long form articles will usually require you to be a exceptional writer to keep users engaged or have a highly controversial topic.
I think that’s it please help us share this if you enjoy it, so more people can learn how to truth about marketing on WeChat.