How to Market on WeChat Without an Official Account
I get a lot of questions from English teachers,
small businesses and individuals asking me how they can market their services
on WeChat. They’re often seeking advice on setting up a WeChat official account
and wanting to publish content on it to attract more customers.
Unfortunately, this is more than unrealistic, first like I said WeChat official account is not the same as creating a Facebook or Instagram business page/profile. In order to get an official account, you need to be qualified and provide a lot of documents for approval.
But even if you’re able to obtain an official account somehow then what?
How do you get followers and get people to view your content?
China is a very competitive, noisy and competitive market and WeChat official account does not work exactly like a Facebook page but even if it does, it generally takes a long time and a ton of content to grow your audience with Facebook page.
The point is, if you’re an individual or even a small business on a shoestring budget, you can forget about WeChat official account. I’ve worked with many small local Chinese business who the owners are Chinese and are able to create their own personal WeChat official account and they barely use it.
The Secret to Marketing on WeChat without an Official Account
The truth is most small local businesses and professionals in China don’t have or use WeChat official account because it’s too costly to operate and the ROI is not clear. Instead, all they do is either create a regular WeChat account with their company logo or use their own personal account and that’s it.
Then they ask people to add them as friends and market themselves through the moments and groups.
If you think about it the basic personal WeChat account gives you most of the features and WeChat service official account would give you. You show up as a friend, you can chat with your customers, and you can advertise on moments for free.
Pretty cool right?
The downside, of course, is there are no menus, no automation, no way to massively disturbing content and there is a limitation of the number of friends you can have on any particular account. But who cares if you’re an individual or small business with no budget.
Ok, but you may be wondering how do I get a bunch of people to add me as a friend in the first place.
How to Build Your Friend List
Well, there are several ways you can do this, some are free and some you may need to put a little bit of money behind it.
Your Existing Customer
As with anything start with your existing customer who already knows, like and trust you. Whoever, you’re interacting with your current Chinese customers get them to add you as a WeChat friend.
Use Shake & People Nearby
Ok, there are two functions on WeChat that will allow you to find and add random people who are also using these features such as Shake and People Nearby. Shake allows you to find people who are also Shaking and People Nearby will find other WeChat users who are nearby.
The downside to this, of course, is that the people on these lists are random, so they may not be interested in your service. But do it anyway, because maybe the will share your content and chances on someone on their list may be interested in your service or product.
Get People to Share
A great way to build your friendliest is to get people who are already on your list to share your content and promotions. Now, the sharing feature on WeChat is no existent, so if you want someone to share they’ll have to repost your content which is difficult to do.
That being said, if it’s a special contest, a
coupon, special promotion and you ask them to share to get more discounts then
some people just might share it on their own moments.
Go Make Some Friends
If you want more friends, you gotta go meet people. This could be meeting people in local Chinese communities around you or go to China and make friends! Yes, you’ll have to go to China to market yourself, what a surprise. Honestly, if you’re serious about getting more Chinese customers who are in mainland China, then pay a visit.
Sitting in front of your string and expect to get Chinese customers in mainland China is unrealistic. It may work for many other countries and cultures but not China.
Go to Communities
Depending on what your offer and sell there are many communities that you can join if there is a big Chinese population around you or you can simply go to China and make friends in various communities.
Go to Events or Trade Shows
Another way to meet more potential Chinese customers is to go to different events and trade shows around the world. If you can show up to certain events or trade show in China even better.
Advertise to Oversea Chinese
If you’re not specifically targeting Chinese consumers in mainland China then you can actually advertise your services on Facebook, Instagram,Youtube, and Google. Yes, you can reach millions of oversea Chinese, including people who may be traveling abroad.
Join WeChat Groups
This is actually a great way to get more friends on your list, but you’ll probably need to be able to write and read Chinese. There are many, many WeChat groups that you can join who are filled with people that can potentially be your customer. The challenge, however, is finding the groups are not easy, you’ll usually have to be invited into the groups and you cannot advertise directly because most “high quality” groups have no advertisement policy.
Rules Of Promote Your Service With Personal WeChat Account
Awesome, now that you have a list of people on your WeChat, it’s time to promote your services and products to the right?
Well… not exactly.
Like anything, you cannot just outright spam promotions on your moment hoping to people will be interested in your product or service. In fact, so many people in China use their personal WeChat account to promote their services, it has come to a point where most users in China are no longer accepting friends who they don’t know and block any moment updates of people who are promoting themselves.
So, what can you do then?
Well, you’ll have to share a lot of contents.
So, yes you’ll have to be able to write Chinese or at least get someone who can localize your content for you into Chinese.
You don’t have to create all of your own content, you can share useful contents as well on moments that also helps to let people know what you are able. And occasionally if you can offer a discount or special promotion to get people to purchase your service.
For example, let’s say you want more students who are looking to learn English from you. Then you’ll need to share contents that can help these Chinese partners with how to help their kids to improve their language and maybe once a while you can promote your service on moments.
That’s really about all you can do to market your services or product on a shoestring budget without having an WeChat official account. You’ll need to be patient as it will take a long time to make this work for you and you’ll need to be able to read and write Chinese or hire someone to do that for you.