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Uncle Tongdao, a WeChat Official Account about astrology just had an exit at a RMB 300 million valuation. The founder and ex-CEO, Cai, Yuedong cashed RMB 217 million ($31.42million) for his 72.5% share. Meisheng Culture is the investor.

How can a WeChat Official Account be worth that much?

Turns out, saying Uncle Tongdao is a WeChat Official Account is a huge under statement. It’s a brand that was founded on WeChat but has extended way beyond a social media account.

How did Uncle Tongdao get started?

Tongdao was founded by Cai Yuedong, a 28 year-old illustrator who was taking freelance projects to help Weibo users to draw customized profile pictures. In 2014, he was a small Weibo KOL with less than 100,000 followers.

Things changed on the day that he drew a sarcastic & funny cartoon about the 12 astrology zodiac signs. It was a huge hit with 40,000 re-shares overnight. Cai understood he had struck a nerve, and he started the Uncle Astrology series of cartoon. Within a year, his Weibo fans grew to 5 million.

The very specific tone of Uncle Tongdao

What made Uncle Tongdao successful, besides that a large number of Chinese girls have a keen interest in astrology and fortune telling?

The is one trend that can explain this success: Uncle Tongdao is great at 吐槽 (Tu Cao), which literally means “to spit in someone’s bowl”. The verb describes the act of playfully expressing your discontent, or simply to complain about something or someone. Tu Cao is a language art in China and Japan. It occupies a specific symbolic and cultural role in China. You could compare it to the sarcastic sense of humor which is part of the way British culture is perceived, both by insiders and outsiders.

By becoming the embodiment of Tucao, Uncle Tongdao managed to attract a wide range of very engaged fans. His team also was able to bring to life the 12 Zodiac characters. They are featured in each article representing each Horoscope.  This consistent tone of voice is maintained over time and through its multiple marketing channels: WeChat, Weibo, WeChat shops, merchandize, coffee shops, books, and offline events.

Contrary to what one might expect, startups are not the only companies able to capture this form of very up-to-date cultural trends. Another company that masters the art of Tucao is Durex. It often reacts to social trends with a funny and implicit humor which made many of its content pieces viral.

Multi-revenue streams is the key to monetization

WeChat is an integrated eco-system. And the best way to make money on WeChat is to leverage this integrated nature in order to combine multiple sources of revenue.

Revenue stream #1: Advertising

The first technique that comes to mind when monetizing a social media account is of course advertising. Tongdao Uncle followed this principle and started to include native advertising inside its social media accounts.

By year 2015, the advertising revenue on Uncle Tongdao reached 30 million RMB.

Revenue stream #2: Custom merchandize

There is something inherently inefficient about monetizing through ads:

  1. The product and message from the advertiser can never be completely in line with the editorial line of the account
  2. If an advertiser is paying you for ads, it means they’re getting more value from the ads than what they’re paying you, so somehow you’re leaving money on the table.

What’s the solution? Vertical integration. That is to say: using your WeChat account to sell your own products.

That’s what Uncle Tongdao did by setting up their own line of merchandize

By the end of 2016, Tongdao will have developed more than 3,000 SKUs of branded merchandize, including toys, office supplies, kitchenware, cosmetics, clothing and even food.

All the merchandize products are of course based on the cartoon characters of the 12 Zodiac signs.

Revenue stream #3: Cafe & Store

Merchandize was just the beginning of monetization for Tongdao Uncle. Tongdao opened the Uncle’s Friends Cafe & Store in Shanghai.

Despite all the growth of online retail, online shopping accounts for only 12.9% of retail purchases in China. An offline presence enables to reach out to the other 87.1%, but also to differentiate with the growing multitude of WeChat Official Accounts which are not going through the hassle of setting up an offline presence.

Revenue stream #4: Multiple WeChat shops

Tongdao not only has one WeChat shop, it has three of them. One of the shop features Uncle Tongdao’s branded merchandize. The other two shops sells other products such as cosmetics from Japan and Korea and health supplements from Australia. Mostly products for his female fans.

It happens that the majority of followers who are interested in astrology are female, which makes the account the perfect place to promote other cosmetics products.

The combination of proprietary merchandize and third-party products enable to combine:

  • A continuous renewal of the inventory by sourcing products from other brands, making the account feel “fresh”
  • Maintain very high margins by pushing in priority the vertically integrated merchandize coming directly from the brand

This is exactly the same strategy leveraged by the superstar WeChat account Luoji Siwei (罗辑思维) which is selling third party products, but also set-up their own publishing company and sell the books on their WeChat shop.

Revenue stream #5: Emojis

Tongdao Uncle also have a series of WeChat emojis reinforcing the brand image. 

Although the set of emojis is free, using these stickers os a powerful tool of soft marketing for the brand. WeChat emoji is great for sharing and brand building (and could turn into a revenue stream with premium stickers, although brands haven’t yet successfuly managed to drive significant income from sticker sales in China)

Revenue stream #6: Offline events

Earlier in July 2016, Tongdao organized an astrology gala in Guangzhou. Just by selling products during this event, the company earned RMB 2 million in a month.

Conclusion: what brands can learn from Uncle Tongdao?

There are a few very actionable learnings which can be taken from the example of Uncle Tongdao:

  1. Multi-channel monetization: WeChat and Weibo are both complex ecosystem combining content and e-commerce, online and offline: if you’re not leveraging all of these channels, you’re losing out on large revenue streams
  2. Vertical integration: although a lot of brands are reluctant to vertically integrate (by designing their own merchandize), the upside of doing so is outstanding. Vertical integration enables to increase margins, and ensure a perfect alignment of content with products. And because few accounts will put the effort, it’s an amazing way to stand out from the crowd in an increasingly competitive environment
  3. Digital isn’t everything: companies are fascinated by the concept of “digitization”, but the lion share of our daily interactions (and purchases) is still happening offline. Keeping a physical presence through offline shops and events was part of the success of Uncle Tongdao
  4. Picking a trendy voice: Uncle Tongdao managed to choose a trendy style to write its content and design its merchandise (Tucao) which gave it a very recognizable visual identity and much higher virality
  5. Sticking to your voice: a lot of (especially large) companies tend to think that they can recuperate each and every online trend and turn it into a marketing asset. This is usually a failure as it appears as an opportunistic maneuver. Uncle Tongdao did none of that: they picked a trendy voice and sticked to it on the long run. This kind of commitment to a given social trend is key to driving long-term engagement and following
Воскресенье, 10 апреля 2016 00:53

Are Weibo shops the future of social e-commerce in China?

Weibo is dead? That’s the most common misconception in social media in China. Weibo has been showing very healthy signs of growth as of Q3 2016: MAU grew 34% year-over-year!

So, who are the largest accounts on Weibo, and how did they do it? Let’s have a look!

Weibo as an e-commerce platform

Everyone heard about WeChat Pay, WeChat shops and WeChat e-commerce.

But have you heard of Weibo shops?

We wrote last week about Uncle Tongdao, and a look at their Weibo account may seem familiar to you… it looks like a WeChat account connected to a WeChat shop

These shops are completely native to Weibo. How do they work? Very simple: they “deep link” to the Taobao APP (which means that clicking somewhere on Weibo opens the Taobao APP at a specific location)

This is not the only way Weibo enables to connect with Taobao. Other KOLs use more low-tech but extremely efficient solutions in order to take their followers to e-commerce:

  • Users link to get a Taobao discount (usually from a large brand)
  • They then another link to access the discounted product
  • The Weibo account either runs the Taobao / Tmall account or (most of the time) gets a commission off the sale

Why is Weibo so connected with Taobao?

Some might be surprised by this tight interconnection between Weibo and Taobao. It is in fact extremely natural as Alibaba owns a 20% stake in Weibo.

There were in fact rumors early this year that Alibaba would expand its stake in Weibo, which caused a surge in Weibo’s stock price. Given Weibo’s outstanding Q3 performances, such a move might very well still be on the table.

Which KOL use Taobao for monetization?

Taobao sales look like a promising way for KOL to get money… but given the lucrative business of ads, is it a prefered approach for monetization?

It clearly is. By looking at the official Weibo ranking of top KOL on the platform, we can observe that the number 1 KOL in both fashion and cosmetic space are both using this tactic. Their names are Linxin Design and Hot Cosmetics.

Let’s have a closer look at these two examples.

Linxin Design (搭配师林欣)

Followers: 6,009,640

# of posts: 49,050

Started in: 2011-07-06

Linxin Design is a typical fashion KOL: posting articles featuring clothes, beauty products and makeup tutorials.

The account is extremely active, pushing about 50 posts per day and monetizing via ads and Taobao integration.

Linxin design is using exactly the strategy highlighted above, offering a pair of links together with product promotion: the first link offers a discount, while the second takes the user to a product on Tmall.

Hot Cosmetics (热美妆)

Followers: 2,072,792

# of posts: 71,228

Started in: 2011-12-13

The account posts a wide range of content from maketup tutorial to content related to food, drawing, news and beauty in a very broad sense.

A large amount of content is also localized content from Japan and Korea (videos subtitled in Chinese).

The monetization method is similar to Linxin Design: coupon-driven sales. The same brands (in this case, WIS) actually promote on both accounts, showing that large cosmetic brands are heavily investing in these sales channels

Conclusion

It has been years that Weibo has been discounted as a dying social network, despite strong growth metrics. Although it is clear Weibo is not what it used to be (especially in terms of time spent daily on the APP), it remains a strong contender for social e-commerce.

With more affordable CPC ads and a better media support for video content, Weibo has true assets to stand out as a weapon of choice for e-commerce and marketers in China.

Воскресенье, 10 апреля 2016 00:46

WeChat’s Long-Awaited Mini-Apps to Go Live on January 9th

Months after opening for beta tests, Tencent announced today more details about its long-awaited mini-app (小程序) feature. Zhang Xiaolong, Tencent Senior Vice President and the “Father of WeChat,” disclosed at the WeChat Open Class that the new feature will be released on January 9th.

At the beginning of the year, Zhang Xiaolong defined mini-apps as “. . . apps that you don’t need to install, you can open them simply by searching or scanning them, which accommodates a ‘delete after use’ habit.”

What will Mini-Apps Look Like?

There will be no entry point for mini-apps inside the WeChat app itself. Rather, mini-apps will only be accessible through QR codes.

Zhang explained that the design is consistent with the company’s initiative of forming a decentralized landscape away from WeChat.

“This will also motivate internet companies to work closer with offline stores because the entry point of mini-apps is in QR codes rather than WeChat,” he said.

In good news for app stores, Zhang reiterated that WeChat has no plan to develop a store for mini-apps or get involved in app distribution. In addition, these apps will only have limited push notification functions so that users won’t get bombarded with spam. However, if a user wishes, they can choose to receive a limited set of notifications. The details of how this will actually work remains unclear.

It seems that Tencent is aiming something completely different from its previous features. Users cannot share mini-apps in their WeChat Moments, but can send them to friends of group chats. In addition, mini-app search and gaming features are not supported.

There’s Too Many Apps, Does This Solve the Problem?

In today’s world of more than 2 million Apps, we could safely say that There’s TOO MANY APPS for that. Mini-apps could be an option to reinvent the mobile app to make them ubiquitous and constantly accessible.

Tencent is not alone in seeing this market change. Both Apple and Google released some “apps within apps“ feature to give brands and businesses new and more valuable ways of reaching consumers.

WeChat has certainly been the dominant social media player since launching in 2011. However, with its growing ubiquity has also come a growing saturation and stagnant user growth. Mini-apps, a threat to app stores or no, seem to be another move by WeChat to ensure that their service stays as sticky as possible, both online and off.

Update, Dec 29: The original article stated that mini-apps could only be found by scanning QR codes in physical stores. This is inaccurate: WeChat did not specify that mini-app QR codes could only be found in certain places, online or off.

Воскресенье, 10 апреля 2016 00:41

The World Of Online Interactive Shows In China

Online video streaming is the new of way of entertainment. People love to watch live and recorded shows online but for the creator of these show online streaming is not enough as they are now making efforts to engage audience. The interaction of audience is crucial for the success of online shows and their broadcaster.  In China, every kind of online show including TV shows, reality shows, user-created streaming websites, and movies streaming platforms are becoming more and more interactive.

The concept of audience interaction is not new. Japan already has some platforms like Danmu which allow users to comment on live shows. South Korea has websites which encourage users to do virtual tipping on online videos. Some broadcasters allow users to do voluntary voting during live shows. Before the popularity of internet, the interaction with audience was usually made through text messages. This old concept with new medium has opened the gate of unique way of interaction and it Is referred as online-only interaction. Audience uses their internet connection to interact in one way or another. It is also proving very fine way to increase revenue.  Recently, Luo Yonghao, founder of a smart phone copmpany, and Wang Ziru broadcasted their debate on Youku-Tudou, a video steaming website. This debate attraction 2,5 million people and one million of them interacted through voting. Supports of Luo Yonghao also tipped 1500 USD and Youku Tudou kept all of that tip. Similarly buying of virtual gift on online video streaming platforms is another way to raise revenue and companies like Tiange and YY are making money through this technique.

Success Story Of Online Interactive Show

One of the most successful online interactive show in China broadcasted in 2014 by China’s social media Tencent in 2014. Tencent launched a competitive show, Hi Song, in which young talented singers competed. This show was very interactive because it utilizes multiple techniques to engage audience.

In every episode audience were asked to vote for their favorite participant and in the final episode more than 5 million people voted for different participant. there was an option to bring eliminated participant back through audience vote. this feature also improved the audience interaction. Different social media platforms like Mobile QQ, QQ music, and WeChat were used to get feedback from the audience and company made adjustment through audience feedback.

Some Danmu comments from viewers were displayed during live show and in some segment celebrities even replied to few comments. According to broadcasters, they received almost 30 million comments during all episodes of the show. This kind of response indicates the success level of the show and it attracts high paying sponsors and we all know that sponsors are the backbone of any project in media. Tencent got attention of premium smart mobile company’s attention and got sponsorship from it. It means the online interaction does not increase the popularity of the show but also help production company to earn serious amount of money.

Viewers also spent real money during the show through buying virtual flowers for their favorite celebrity. the price of virtual flower was just between RMB 2 to RMB 18. They also displayed names if people who buy most flowers. The whole season got more than 400 million views and company earn huge amount of money through online advertisements of giant sponsors. This venture of Tencent showed the power of online interactive shows.

User-Created Interactive Online Shows

There are several online platforms in China which allow users to create live video streaming. Some platforms also have features which also users to let their audience interact with them. one of the biggest example of such platform is YY. It has feature for virtual gift to generate revenue. YY is offering several services including YY Music, e-learning, online dating, live video streaming, and gaming. Viewers can buy gift cards to support their favorite user. the selling of these virtual gifts is the primary source of revenue of YY. the revenue of YY Music is the maximum in this regard. Before 2012 gaming service of YY had maximum revenue but now revenue of even dating service of YY has surpassed gaming service. The dating service is very unique in which host can invite people for dating and viewers can view profile of those people and make comments. Viewers can also buy gift cards for host and his invited people. This service is becoming more and more popular in China and its revenue is also increasing rapidly. YY shares the revenue from virtual gift with owners of channel who directed audience to buy virtual gifts. It is the way of YY to motivate users to create more interactive shows. These types of shows are the future of entertainment industry and production houses are taking this concept very seriously.

Воскресенье, 10 апреля 2016 00:36

Rogue bots run amok on WeChat – flirting, scamming, and spamming

She calls herself Cara. She looks like a model – large eyes, perfect skin – and teaches yoga for a living. She says her hometown is Changchun, a northeastern city not far from North Korea, and lives in Shanghai with her parents.

Cara is also a chatbot.

“She’ll be a little bit flirty,” Matthew Brennan, co-founder of WeChat consulting and research firm China Channel, tells Tech in Asia. “It doesn’t feel like a bot at all.”

Matthew discovered Cara through a friend who found her on Momo, a Chinese dating and live streaming app. Cara’s maker sent the bot’s WeChat name to users she matched with on Momo, before letting it loose on the Chinese messaging app.

“The whole idea is to get the hongbao,” Matthew explains, using the Chinese word for red envelope, the way to gift cash on WeChat. “As soon as the hongbao’s out, it’s collected immediately.”

Over the course of a few days, Cara chats up would-be suitors in a mixture of voice and text messages, eventually asking for a small favor: a transfer of US$27. It isn’t a lot – just enough to order something from Hong Kong, the bot says.

“I’ll treat you to a midnight snack in a few days,” she promises in an audio message, her voice soft and pouting. “And don’t get the wrong idea – I’m only asking you because we’re friends.”

Black-market bots for sale

Chatbots rocketed into the limelight last year, bolstered by the enthusiasm of Facebook and Microsoft, though the technology wasn’t mature yet.

In China, however, the response was more muted. While Facebook was busy pushing its new Messenger app – boasting when it hit 11,000 bots – Tencent, the maker of WeChat, quietly let millions of accounts develop AI-powered bots of their own, keeping a wary eye out for abuse. Accounts like Cara, for example, are shut down, as Tencent wants to confine bots to customer service-related functions within brand accounts.

But unsanctioned bots run amok on the social network, often tactlessly spamming groups or artificially inflating a brand’s likes and follows. The Chinese tech firm clamped down last year on thousands of accounts, denouncing the use of external software to alter WeChat. Tencent did not reply to queries about its policies on bots.

Unlike WeChat’s “official” accounts, designed for commerce and media, these rogue bots hijack personal accounts. They can be purchased on Taobao, the country’s most popular online marketplace, for a couple of dollars or less. Some accounts are even “farmed” before they’re sold, which means they already have friends and have logged a certain amount of human-like activity, such as posting on Moments, WeChat’s newsfeed-like feature.

“If I grow a WeChat account to 3,000 to 5,000 friends, one ad on my Moments could be worth between [US$14 to US$140],” explains Li Jiarui, a Javascript and WeChat bot developer based in Beijing. “It depends on the quality of your account.”

 

Jiarui doesn’t farm WeChat accounts, but she’s familiar with the industry. Account farming is driven by the needs of marketing and advertising agencies, as well as weishang, or “micro shops” run through personal WeChat accounts. Unlike brand accounts, personal accounts are easier to register and can participate in group chats. These shopkeepers often use their Moments to advertise all kinds of products, from imported baby powder to fake luxury handbags.

“Because they often get shut down, we can learn a lot from their experience,” says Jiarui.

Jiarui began developing WeChat bots about half a year ago to automate group management for her dance community on the messaging app. Her bot can automatically pull friends into groups and welcome new members, as well as hold basic conversations thanks to a Chinese natural language processing framework called Turing Robot.

In fact, her chatbot is so popular that Tencent once chose it as a beta tester for WeChat.

“They thought I was a serious WeChat addict,” she laughs. “They probably thought that I was on WeChat almost 24 hours a day, not doing much else. Because of my activity, they assumed I was a high-quality user.”

Jiarui says her bot, which has about 3,000 friends, receives more than 10,000 messages a day.

Other chatbots, like “Micro Friend Assistant”, are also designed to tackle WeChat’s clunky group management system. Micro Friend Assistant lets group administrators set responses to keywords, automatically upload shared files to cloud storage, or even track and analyze group activity. But, like Cara, it too was shut down.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

“This Chinese New Year, I tested out a hongbao bot and then I was banned for like a week or so,” says an employee at a chatbot company, who requested anonymity. He forgot to program the bot to not be the first one to grab the red envelopes – a total bot giveaway. Adding too many friends in a short amount of time can also raise a red flag.

Tencent is understandably opaque about its rules for catching bots to keep developers on their toes. But Jiarui has learned a few tricks from the app’s shopkeepers, such as using mobile data instead of wifi to send messages, and tying a bank card to the bot’s account.

“Do your best to mimic a real account,” she advises. Chatbots should follow brand accounts, have a profile picture, post on Moments, and both proactively and passively make friends on the app. “Ideally have your friends add you first. And try to have these friends comment on the content in your Moments,” she says.

At the moment, many WeChat bot developers rely on hacking the app’s web version. A quick search for “wechat bots” on Github pulls up multiple projects that can turn personal accounts into bots, such as WeChaty, the framework that Jiarui uses. However, that too has its limitations. Scraping the app’s web interface limits you to basic functions, such as sending messages and adding friends.

“Web WeChat is this crippled, semi-supported project by Tencent,” emphasizes Alex, a freelance web developer who would only disclose his first name. You can only do about a quarter of what you can do with the mobile app, excluding all the “interesting features,” he says.

“No hongbao […] and to re-login, you need to scan a QR code with phone,” Alex adds.

Nevertheless, the commercial potential of chatbots has startups like Urbem, a WeChat-based restaurant recommendation and deals startup, interested in the technology. The startup’s account is already staffed with a bot that navigates Urbem’s database to recommend restaurants to its users.

Urbem sees friendly chatbots as a way to generate leads from the various food groups it manages on WeChat.

“We want to link this bot to the bot from our [brand] account’s knowledge base,” explains Steven Chen, founder and CEO of Urbem. “Then this bot [will be] interesting and knowledgeable, and people follow the bot.”

“Eventually, we would convert them to our WeChat account, so they can pay to be a member. That’s how we generate revenue,” he says.

Given Tencent’s unforgiving stance towards rogue bots leaping into your messages, it’s uncertain how these bots, even those that have a positive impact or fulfill legitimate needs, will develop on the social network. Allowing unofficial bots to thrive on WeChat opens a Pandora’s box of possibilities, including AI of the Cara ilk. For now, bot developers will have to work hard to build increasingly human-like and believable messaging bots to slip under Tencent’s radar.

Воскресенье, 10 апреля 2016 00:25

Data reveals 84% of WeChat account managers make less than 10k RMB / month

The WeChat analytics website Newrank just released a new survey of 1,032 social media account operators (“Self-media” or “自媒体”) in China.

Who are they? How much do they make? How do they generate revenue? All of the answers are below!

Who are they?

The survey reveals that social media account operators in China are:

  • Majority male (74.1%)
  • Pretty new to the job: 45% of them have been operating an account for less than a year, and only 16% for more than 3 years

We also learn that the participants of the survey are:

  • Mostly young people: only 11% of them are older than 37 years old, while 42% are under 22)
  • Located in large cities: 66% of the account operators are located in Tier 1 or Tier 2 cities
  • Highly educated: 88% of them have a bachelor degree or above

40% of the operators are doing it as a side job, or plan to go full time but aren’t quite there yet. Only 16% of the account surved were part of media agencies.

What are their prospects?

The data reveals that 71% of the operators are actively looking for investment or might do so in the future.

This reveals that “Self-published-media” is, if anything, more similar to startup culture than it is to traditional media culture.

How much money do they make?

However, these social media accounts are for the most part unprofitable. 84% of them make less than 10,000 RMB per month. Only a tiny percentage (0.5%) makes more than 1M RMB per month

This statistic shines a light over the fact that, although we hear much about large WeChat accounts charging 30k RMB and above for each of their native ads, this represents a tiny portion of accounts and most of them are actually struggling to monetize.

The majority of accounts are using either WeChat native ads (31.7%) or KOL advertising (24.5%) as a way to monetize

What does their life look like?

Most of account operators are mostly struggling with continuously producing content (47%) and defining their business model (26%, which makes sense given the trouble we saw they have monetizing).

Only a small fraction (5%) is considering finding investment as their main struggle.

“Self-media” also turns out to be a challenging job: nearly 50% of the operators work more than 8 hours per day, 18% of them more than 11 hours per day, and 41% of them do overtime every day or nearly every day.

What do they plan to do next?

Most encouragingly, most of “Self-media” social media account operators seen content with their lot: 60.2% are happy to keep on with it next year, and 84% overall are planning to stay in the industry next year.

Conclusion

This reports shine new light on people operating social media accounts in China:

  • They make less money than we would expect (84% make less than 10k a month)
  • They have high hopes for the future (71% are considering looking for investment)
  • And, less surprisingly so, they work really really hard…

… and so do we, to bring you the best content about social media in China out there, hope you like this report!

Суббота, 09 апреля 2016 17:34

WeChat Mini-Apps Developed for Brands

WeChat is the largest social network in China with 809 million active user accounts, it is so integral that users now spend 35% of their time on smartphones on WeChat. The services have now become so integrated with such a variety on offer that the app is essentially a ‘one stop shop’ for Chinese users daily lives. It continues to grow in a unique set of conditions with the ‘great firewall’ excluding any significant western competition.

The development of mini apps or mini ‘programmes’ within WeChat is therefore not a surprising development for such an integrated Chinese service, in-fact for branding it presents a huge opportunity. It can also now compete against rival app stores with it’s captive audience historically favouring inbuilt WeChat services to external ones, this could change the face of the app market in China and have ramifications globally.

WeChat’s newest app feature allows users to access and engage with a variety of apps within the messaging app itself. WeChat parent company Tencent, (with a valuation of US$239 billion) will be the gatekeeper. By doing this WeChat can sidestep Apple and the various Android app stores to provide users with their app fix alongside their social media experience.

It is just another indication that this is WeChat’s world now, for western brands this presents an opportunity to capitalize on the infrastructure connecting such a vast number of potential consumers that are all in one place and highly engaged. In-built apps will strengthen branding in China on the most powerful social platform:

FURTHER INTEGRATION

For WeChat this a way to further strengthen their fortress, their application is the most integrated in the world with services ranging from messaging, to photo sharing, gaming, dating, taxi ordering, financial management, geo-localization and e-commerce shopping. WeChat previously had no in-built app service so has nothing to lose by launching it’s own version. The message here is that WeChat can fulfill all your needs, your time spent browsing online is even within WeChat (external links are even opened via the WeChat browser), there is no need to ever leave the application..

HOW TO SET UP?

To get into WeChat’s app store, companies will need to develop apps that are different from their Android and iOS versions. These are built with a special framework designed by Tencent and will reportedly be based on JavaScript. Apps can be set up in conjunction with brands official accounts which already serve as micro-sites for content dissemination and information presentation.

The apps will need to be developed with specialist, local bodies to fulfill the Chinese regulatory requirements, the apps also need to be strongly targeted for Chinese consumers so utilizing local knowledge is vital for re-branding via apps.

MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENGAGEMENT

By marrying user apps with official accounts users can be engaged with for longer and at multiple entry points. Intelligent brand communication can be developed within the mini apps, this then can link directly to your official account. Apps are accessed from within a new panel inside WeChat, this is near where hundreds of millions of people regularly go to post photos or links to their ‘Moments’, WeChat’s equivalent to Facebook’s news feed. The new process will likely keep users spending even more time in WeChat. WeChat already accounts for 30% of all mobile online time spent in China.

WECHAT HAVE PREVIOUSLY BEEN LEFT OUT OF THE IOS MARKET

This move ultimately provides Tencent the ability to tap into the lucrative iOS market. Apple’s closed ecosystem means that iPhone users can only download apps from the App Store, locking Tencent out from these lucrative users, whom typically spend more than Android users. Mini Apps provides Tencent the ability to reach iOS consumers from within WeChat and also benefit from their more established, closed system in China, with 700 million active accounts WeChat boasts the largest eco-system, it could effectively shut Apple (who have recently been struggling in China) out of the largest app market ever created.

BRANDING AND ENGAGEMENT THROUGH APPLICATIONS

Brands will be able to create games, store apps and service based apps on the WeChat network. WeChat presence is now more important arguably than your official website. On the platform you need to attract subscribers, only once connected to users see your content posted; developing apps is a good way to incentivize users to follow and share brand content. It is important to remember that Chinese specific content needs to be utilized. The Chinese remain very fond of addictive, instant gratification gaming, I see launching game apps like this to be a popular way of going viral for brands. The app ultimately needs to encourage users to share content, their results on the game, or a customized image such as a branded selfie, they need a pay off which is shareable.

SOCIAL MEDIA DEVELOPMENTS ARE NOW PIONEERED IN CHINA

Users were able to embed multimedia content in social media more than 18 months before Twitter users could do so in the United States and users connect their banking with their WeChat accounts to make payments online and in specific WeChat micro-stores. This combination of e-commerce embedded in a social platform alongside the ease of payment (e-wallet) is world leading. Additionally developing apps within the universe of the social media application is an innovative and industry leading development.

This move reflects the dominance of well designed, leading domestic platforms. It is worth repeating that western versions cannot compete with these established digital infrastructures, what western companies can do is utilize the infrastructure they provide to connect with the vast Chinese consumer audience. WeChat Mini Apps present a greater opportunity to intelligently brand and adapt to the Chinese market in order to succeed.

Суббота, 09 апреля 2016 17:30

Dior the First Luxury Brand to Sell on WeChat

Wechat has exceeded the race and stands ahead among the top Chinese e-commerce marketing forums in a very short time. What was launched 5 years back as a private messaging application for Smartphone users, has not become an important business platform. China with its increasingly expanding market is attracting more and more new brands from all over the world.

Dior, The leading Brand

The brand named after its founder Christian Dior is known for its luxury, sophistication, and glamor. The short logo despite the company being a well-known luxury industry of the world helps its easy identification and recognisability. It was founded as a female brand which promised every woman beauty. It later on extended its products for men and kids as well. The brand’s distinction lies in its values which put emphasis on respect for the client and the perfectionism it targets regarding its products. Dior has been among the most powerful fashion and luxury brands. Through its unique logo, high-quality contour, extremely sophisticated fashion sense, discrete and elegant products and loyalty, Dior attracts fashion-conscious women from high social class.

Dior Marketing Techniques

Dior with its classical way of communication with the followers, not only promotes its products but unlike many other brands, it also highlights the elegance and sophistication of the brand itself. The precise yet glamorous logo gives power to the brand by making it easy to recognize and access. With its fashion shows that highlight its elegant contour, the museum in Granville which promotes the evolution of the brand, organizing special events or releasing the film in the entertainment industry to create a fizzle regularly, over many years Dior has developed its figure of merit and exclusive perfection. However, the latest trick which took the brand to the sky was the jump into the stream of social media. Yes, Dior has been using Facebook, twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and to top all now mobile messaging applications like wechat to market its products more cleverly.

Why wechat?

The best and the foremost step to enter into the Chinese market is none other than wechat. And it is really easy to jump in via wechat because it does not require you to register or to have a Chinese bank account or to have an export license. And for the well-known luxury brands, the Chinese market is a gem via wechat as it caters the need for brand loyalty by offering one to one communication with the costumers. Its fashion and luxury market has been used by great western brands including the famous fashion and luxury brands like the coach, Nike, and Burberry. The majority of the global luxury brands now have joined this business platform and the number is still increasing.

A substantial shift is coming in the Chinese market which is transforming business platforms into more technology-based ones. The new generation that is coming consists of internet experts and high-tech savvy consumers who prefer convenient and efficient means of purchase.

An overview of the famous international luxury brands on wechat

Here is an account of the top international luxury brands which are using wechat as a platform to market its products and have been successful by leaps and bounds.

Burberry: Burberry has been very vigilant in making use of wechat services for its marketing. Be it the stories that highlight the brand’s extravaganza or the customer services that it provides on wechat, or the wechat campaigns by Burberry during the local festivals, Burberry has left no means to utilize this great platform.

Coach: Coach uses wechat mainly for promotion of its products and loyalty programs for its customers.

Chanel: Through its subscription account, Chanel has got an opportunity to provide its followers with more frequent information regarding its products, brand history, events, and company news.

Tag Heuer: The brand created a new strategy of marketing when it launched a campaign on wechat to provide its followers with an interactive traveling exhibition. Hence it provided a chance to the Chinese customers, to look into the history of the leading Swiss watch brand.

Zara, Sephora, H&M, LVHM, and Dior are also the leading international fashion and luxury brands to market their goods at wechat.

Dior on Wechat

Dior recently entered the Chinese famous and leading business platform when it marketed its items on wechat during the Qixi Festival Holiday. The customers were offered unique handbags and were also able to interact with the company’s representatives through wechat prior to placing their order and making a payment. Chinese superstars from entertainment industry were the promoters for this campaign. And the turnout for the brand was exceptional. All the models of the bag promoted on wechat were sold within the duration of a day. And hence Dior became the first luxury brand to sell its handbags on wechat.

“No mini-app stores, no entry point in WeChat, limited push notifications, no sharing in WeChat Moments.”

This description from Zhang Xiaolong, Tencent senior vice president and the “Father of WeChat,” on mini-apps has shaken public predictions about WeChat’s product structure. From what we can tell so far, Tencent has been strikingly restrained in integrating mini-apps into WeChat ecosystem.

In anticipation of the official launch of mini-app on January 9th, increasing attentions is being paid to the new feature, expected to create another boost to China’s internet industry like what WeChat has done with public accounts (公众号).

TechNode had the pleasure of speaking to Zhao Jiuzhou, CEO of HuosuMobi, to hear his insights on the prospect and potential impacts of mini-apps. Founded in 2015, HuosuMobi is a B2B service dedicated to HTML5 app and mini-app development.

WeChat mini-app VS H5 and native apps

H5 apps have once been widely regarded as an alternative to overtake native apps. However, both the pros and cons of this technology are obvious: high development efficiency but poor UX/performance. After years of debate, H5 still lacks traction for developers who want to promote user stickiness and gradually turned into a tool for company or product introduction.

Native apps sure can guarantee rich UI and engaging user experience, but it poses higher demands on development and marketing costs. Moreover, it’s difficult to get users download native apps that only offer low-frequency services.

Zhao believes that mini-apps have combined the advantages of H5 and native apps while get rid of their disadvantages.

“Mini-apps have a similar development process with H5 apps. WeChat is a container and mini-app is more efficient because it has put the key elements for loading on WeChat platform (as compared with H5 which needs to download everything),” he says. “Mini-app provides user experiences similar to native apps. That’s why some media consider it a combination of H5’s acquisition model and native app experience.”

Don’t pin your hopes on WeChat traffic: This about connecting offline to WeChat (O2W)

Perhaps more than the technology, people care about whether mini-apps are going to bring new market opportunities. Despite the limited integration with the WeChat system, many are hoping that mini-apps will bring a traffic boost to their brand or product, like the public account feature. However, they may be sadly disappointed.

With 768 million daily active users as of the end of last year, WeChat is shifting its focus from acheiving a larger user base to engaging current users for a longer period of time. In the past, WeChat is the go-to place for social networking and payment. However, even though we may pay for products and services through WeChat, it is not where the sale begins or ends.

Tencent wants to see more users spending more time on WeChat through mini-apps for shopping and entertainment. Furthermore, the company’s real focus is not only about the consumption made online, but the traffic in offline in bricks-and-mortar stores or spaces. In order to truly connect the physical world to the digital, WeChat has given mini-app the best entrance: the QR code.

In the long-term, mini-apps will be the tool for offline merchants to digitalize their customer base. Of course, it may also bring detrimental impacts to online tools. Once discovering a convenient and hassle-free mini-app, who would download a more heavy and complicated native app?

The leading players in different verticals may start feeling the pressure.

Суббота, 09 апреля 2016 17:10

Wechat Marketing guide (2017)

Wechat Marketing is the most popular Strategy to increase your Branding & Awarness in China. We explain in this article how it works , wechat Strategy.

Would you like to enter a Chinese market? Develop your business in China? Or simply, would you like to improve your online presence in China? Well, if you have to chose a widely used social media, it should be WeChat.


 
History

WeChat commonly called Wei Xin (pronounced Wei “shin”) 微信in Chinese is a text and voice messaging mobile app. It was created in 2011, GuangZhou by Tencent, the creator of QQ (text messaging app, email account, etc.) and Qzone. Wei Xin has been growing rapidly since 2012 with the installation of new features such as: QR codes, E-wallet, moments and other great tools. WeChat also entered a new market and went into a battle against Alibaba (more specifically Alipay) because they reinvented e-commerce by offering flash sales. As an example, Xiao Mi, a Chinese mobile phone provider, sold 150 000 phones in 10 minutes. WeChat also managed to expand their activities abroad for example in Thailand, and built a partnership with Didi Dache, a, online taxi booking service provider.

Key Facts about WeChat

The social media platform has never stopped welcoming new users. WeChat has now 697 millions active user accounts worldwide. China is the biggest market. 68% of adult Chinese Internet users are active on WeChat with ¾ who have between 18 and 35 years old. As you can see, it is a pretty young community with mostly male users (64% as of 2015). Also, 60% of the users open the app at least 10 times a day!

Now that you know that having a Wei Xin account is essential, how can you create one?

What you will need:

  • A mobile phone + number
  • An email address (in case)
  • A nice picture of yourself or the logo of your company

Open a personal account

  1. You will need to install the WeChat app on your phone (Android, IPhone, … )
  2. Open the app and click on “Sign Up”
  3. Enter your details (name, nickname, mobile phone number, …)
  4. Then, it will send you a text with a code to verify your account. Please note that you won’t be able to use your account if it is not verified.

Open a professional/official account

Having an official account will unlock some specific features for your business. If you want to create an account for your company for example, the process is different. You should go on their website and fill in an Official Registration form.

That is exactly what numerous western companies decided to do such as: Pepsi, Burberry or Mulberry. Mulberry created its official account back in 2014. The brand showcases its fashion collections and offers the possibility for its « contacts » to receive exclusive information about the brand such as behind-the-scenes or commercial offers.

Using WeChat for its main functions

The main function of WeChat is to send text and voice messages. However, in order to do that you will need to add contacts. They can either be your friends, relatives or your clients, people you meet during networking events, colleagues in your company who have the mobile app. You may ask, how do you add a new contact? There are several ways to do it: Use the WeChat ID, Use the other’s QR code or add the person’s telephone number.

This can also work for companies as well with official account. The QR code is still the fastest and easiest way to add a company. Sharing great content and useful information are essential to build a long term relationship with the customer.

Group discussions

Just like any effective text messaging app it is also possible to start or join group discussions. The management of each group depends on the owner’s rules. However, it is good to know that discussion groups are for Chinese WeChat users a great way to share insights, advice and collect other’s comments on a subject.

Moments and Advertising

If you want your brand to thrive on WeChat you will need to have high quality content. Why? Because, it will give you the opportunity to be found by new followers. There are several ways to share information: group discussion, official account page, one and one message and finally a newbie, Weitie, an app, which combined with WeChat,  enables the creation of an internal WeChat page paired with a QR code.

First, what is moment? “Moments” are very similar to what we are used to with Facebook updates. WeChat allows you to post a new update viewable by all of your contacts (unless you disabled it yourself in the privacy settings). You can share pictures, videos and written messages. You can even mention other users by just adding @ before their WeChat id.

Then, now that you know what “moments” are about, how can you use it to promote your products or services? You can use WeChat moments ads which showcases a picture, a description text (40 characters max), images (max 6 images) and finally a internal WeChat link.

Go from promotion to selling your products/services on WeChat

One of the most amazing features of WeChat are the e-wallet and WeChat Weidian. The WeChat wallet is basically an online payment tool. Thanks to this, users can secure their online payment by using this wallet to: order food, buy cinema tickets, book a taxi, etc. The social media also recently created an online shopping mobile mall called WeChat Weidian. This is a great opportunity for any company looking to expand its business in China since about 9 out of 10 Chinese Internet users access to the Internet via mobile phone.

Wechat Marketing Tip

Bonus Tip: It’s now possible to download a software/app for your computer to sign in WeChat on laptop, however it has limited features and also erases conversation histories when closed.


To conclude, the WeChat mobile app can be used in different ways to not only promote your brand, get closer to your target market, but also to sell your products or services.

Learning how to use efficiently each WeChat features and constantly staying alert to any WeChat update will help you to thrive and make the best out of this incredible Chinese app.

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