How People Use & Behave on WeChat
Alright, if you want to leverage WeChat as a pillar of your marketing in China then you better know the app well and how Chinese consumers are actually using it every single day. Which means, if you haven’t yet used the app, I highly suggest you download it, add some friends and use it!
In general WeChat is a mobile messaging app and naturally, that’s the primary activity that most WeChat users do on it, to chat with their friends and families. However, that’s really only the surface of WeChat because it’s got a complete ecosystem and you can pretty much live your whole life with it in China.
Now many of the functions below are going to be more apparent if you were in China, they won’t be as useful for a foreign outside of China but they’re available to pretty much everyone.
Chatting & Messaging:
Needless to say, what most people in China use WeChat for is to chat and stay connected with their friends and families because that’s what WeChat was originally built to a mobile messenger app.
Moments is another key feature you should pay a lot of attention to because it is where users pay most of their attention to apart from chatting. If an average WeChat user is not actively chatting with their friends, they’re probably looking at their moments (朋友圈). In Chinese moments is actually call which directly translate to “friend’s circle”.
You can think of moments kind of like Facebook newsfeed but not as open. On Facebook, a stranger can search and find your profile and view your updates, if you didn’t change your privacy settings to hide them from none-friends. WeChat on the other hand, you cannot do this and can only view moments of people who are on your friend’s list.
- Name: This is your WeChat name, whatever that may be.
- Post Content: This is your post; your post can be long and short but if it’s long people will have to click on the “read more” to read the rest of your post.
- Image, Video or Article: Here you have a few options, you can post 1 big picture, a bunch of pictures (up to 9), a short few seconds video, or a link to an external webpage or WeChat official account article.
- Posted Location: You can choose to display where you posted the post and your location will show up below (if WeChat knows where you are).
- Like & Comment Menu: This is a menu that opens up with 2 options, WoW(like) or comments.
- Likes & Comments: This, unlike the Like & Comment menu, instead this is where you actually see all the likes and comments of your post.
Important Note: WeChat moments do not really have a share function and I’m not sure if it will ever have one but as of right now if you want to share a friends post you’ll literally have to copy and paste & repost it, unless it’s a webpage or article from a WeChat official account.
Alright, WeChat Time Capsule is actually very new and interesting feature its kind of like Snapchat story which allows you to film a short clip that stays up a period of 24 hours for your friends to see.
WeChat Time Capsule allows you to capture a 10-second video of your day and then all your friend will get a notification in their moments of your new Time Capsule within the Time Capsule list.
The cool thing about WeChat Time Capsule is that the notification will appear 1 in the chat as a blue bubble on the top left corner beside the menu toggle. Two is that it appears on the very top of your moments and the notification will stay there until you clear all the new Time Capsules.
WeChat group is kind of like Facebook group, although to be honest, it is not nearly as robust as the Facebook group. Pretty much anyone can create a WeChat group and invite their friends to join the group without their permission. Yes, you can just add a friend to a group you’re already in and they’re in.
There is a limit of 500 users per group, which
means if you want to go beyond that you’ll have to have multiple groups which are
a headache to manage. I know someone who has 5 groups because they’re all full.
You can kick and ban people from your group as a group admin but it is very annoying because anyone in your group can literally invite all their friends without your approval.
Anyway, the WeChat group is actually a pretty popular feature because people like to form groups and talk about random stuff in life or in most cases spam people to promote them self. There is a benefit to the WeChat group as long as you can keep it a secret and be very selective about who you add to the group.
I want to talk about WeChat pay very quickly because it is used everywhere in China but it’s not really a social function, rather it’s a payment function. Because of the rapid growth & development of China in the last 20 or so years, many Chinese consumers who have never used a credit card before skipped right to using mobile payment systems. The two most popular system is Alipay and WeChat pay which I believe has a 50/50 market share.
Pretty much everyone in China and all transaction in China using both of these payment systems. Less and fewer people are using actual cash in China, in fact, even street vendors only accept WeChat and Ali pay nowadays in China because it’s easier and more secure.
It is worth mentioning under WeChat pay there is a whole list of other Tencent and third-party services that are integrated with WeChat & WeChat pay such as: ordering food, pay your monthly utility bills, book a hotel, get rideshare, discover local businesses, buy movie tickets, e-commerce, etc…
WeChat search is a relatively a newer function to WeChat which allows users to search for contents, official accounts, and. With this new feature, marketers can now optimize their content for search terms on WeChat. Still very little is known about how exactly WeChat search algorithm works but from our testing, it is pretty similar to that of Baidu just more primitive. There is an entire section dedicated to this in a later chapter.
Top stories are also a very new feature to WeChat. There are actually 2 different tabs under this function. The first is the “WoW” tab and the second is the “Top Stories” tab.
The “WoW” tab will have a list of all the
articles your friends on WeChat have “Wowed Liked)”, the WeChat Top Story tab,
on the other hand, is more of list of well what WeChat believe are the latest Top,
Hot, and Trending content which is typically celebrity and government-issued
We’ll cover more about WoW and Top Stories in the WeChat Content Market Chapter.
Mini programs are another important function of WeChat which I will discuss in detail in a later chapter. For now, it is basically an internal app system for WeChat where developer and business can develop their own app within the WeChat app to sell, engage, service their customers.
WeChat mini program is useful for businesses because it adds an extra level of function to your WeChat official accounts allow you to collect more information, set up WeChat eCommerce shop and collect lead information such as their name and phone numbers.
Mini Program Near Me: There are two tabs under your Mini Program, one is “My Mini Programs” and the other is this. Mini Program Near Me is kind of like people near me which allows you to discover other mini-programs that are around where you’re located. This is a cool feature however most people don’t actively go look for mini-programs.
Again there is a whole chapter dedicated to WeChat Mini Program later.
This is the WeChat “Hook Up” function you shake and a random list of people who are also using this function will show up and you can add them and start a chat with them. It isn’t much you can use this function for marketing.
Another function that allows you to discover new people to be friends with that is near you. Overall this function has very little application for business or marketing, you can like shaker create a personal WeChat account with your business logo and the service you offer and hope someone will discover you.
Sticker Gallery: Alright last but not least Sticker Gallery which is where WeChat users can download new emoji and “Stickers” which are animated cartoons that you can send in chats. There isn’t much business implication to this one unless you’re want to leverage creating your own set of stickers to increase brand exposures.
That’s all the WeChat functions that are available on WeChat and pretty good insight as to what Chinese consumer use WeChat for. Next, we’ll be talking about WeChat official account and the importance of using them to grow your business in China.