Similar to the messenger services we know in the West (see WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger), WeChat can be used to send text messages, voice messages, pictures, videos and documents to contacts and groups. Audio or video calls can also be made via WeChat. You can also share links from other apps (like LinkedIn, Spotify, Weibo, etc.).
Furthermore, WeChat is also a social media platform. That means there are profile pictures, galleries, stories, fan groups, likes, etc. as we know them from our social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Connect and Share
So far, I have described WeChat as if it were some sort of plagiarism from the big American social media channels. This is far from being the case. Because beyond the communication functions known to us, the Chinese version contains many more possibilities. Let’s not forget that Tencent is originally a communications provider. For this reason, oral communication is much more important than communication via text, for example. Besides, the Chinese font is much more complex than our 26 letters. So it stands to reason that consumers prefer to talk to each other rather than write.
I will come back to this particularity later when it comes to marketing. After all, of course, the priority is given to voice communication also has an impact on the way sales are made in China. Chinese marketing is based on networks. Everyone in China is only as important as the people you network with. If you want to achieve something, you can only do so if you know the right people or have contacts. So it’s no wonder that networking with the help of WeChat is extremely important in China.
In the following I give you a brief introduction to the functions of WeChat.
WeChat Shake is a very popular function to connect to someone at random. The right contact is created like a lucky ticket in a lottery. WeChat Shake uses a random generator to establish contact with another user when they shake their mobile phone at the same time. You heard right, the mobile phone has to be shaken. If two people somewhere in Asia shake their mobile phones at the same time, they are connected. It becomes a chat for both possible. The two can add themselves as friends and chat together. This is, of course, a wonderful way to meet a new friend or a potential bride.
However, the transition from private to commercial communication is fluid in China. Offline sellers such as supermarkets and hotels also use the shake function to distribute special offers and profits in this way. If users come to a defined location at a certain time and shake their phone there, they can win something in the right match.
TV stations also use this function to attract viewers. With the shake function, they can interact with them in real-time. For example, if users watch TV and a WeChat logo appears in the picture, viewers can shake their smartphones and then win a coupon or a special offer at the right match.
This function can be used to network. This time, however, with people in the immediate vicinity. If you go into a bar alone and look for contacts, you can display on your smartphone who would like to be contacted. The app function shows people nearby who are “on reception”. So you can first add and chat with each other before looking at each other directly in the eye. This function helps shy people to talk to strangers and thus possibly find friends and make appointments. But of course, you can also find friends in the crowd. The function is based on real-time localization of the user.
WeChat for business communications
WeChat is also very important in the working environment. For this reason, the social media app also includes functions that have been specially developed for cooperation with colleagues. For example, files can be shared and forwarded. Conference calls and streams make it possible to organize virtual conferences. In addition, there are enterprise accounts, which are increasingly used for PR and corporate communications. Furthermore, project tracking (e.g. how far the project has been completed) or to create invoices can be done. Another very popular feature is that users send and scan WeChat QR codes to each other instead of exchanging business cards. The advantage of QR codes is that the data is exchanged digitally and does not have to be entered manually.
Moments are another social network function within WeChat. It works like a semi-closed platform where photos, videos, articles, and outbound links are available for selected users. The Moments interface is particularly used by brand manufacturers. They use this channel to promote themselves or their products. New users and customers can be acquired via Moment-Ads (ads). Or influencers have the task to spread the Moment-Ads by forwarding the ads to their followers.
WeChat Moments can be compared in the broadest sense with the feed on Facebook, where users also share experiences or interesting things with each other.
WeChat Pay: Digital wallet
The most important difference to the American social media platforms is the different payment functions of WeChat. The WeChat Wallet (also called WeChat Pay) opens up the possibility of cashless payment. To activate this function, the WeChat account must be linked to a bank account from which the sums are debited or deposited directly. Since October 2019, WeChat Pay can also be operated with an international credit card.
The link to WeChat Pay makes it possible to pay bills by scanning QR codes. Users can also transfer money directly to other users. There is also a function that allows bills to be shared. This is handy if you want to go out to dinner with the team or your friends, or if you want to buy a birthday present for a colleague.
A special feature in Chinese culture is the “red envelopes”, which, filled with money, are traditionally given away on special occasions. With WeChat, these “red packages” can now be given as digital gifts. A function that is very popular with the Chinese.
Third-party applications and mini programs
In addition to the standard functions described above, it is possible to upgrade your own WeChat application with additional “widgets” or even “mini programs”. These digital extensions are available in our own WeChat App Store. Possible functions include booking and paying for rental bikes (shared bikes), subscribing to newspapers and magazines, booking taxis, smart home applications and managing and paying electricity bills. In addition, flights can also be booked and paid for. Particularly popular are mini programs, which allow a consumer to connect to shopping channels. In this way, shopping becomes a leisure activity that can be enjoyed at any place and at any time of day.
The mini programs are also made available to companies who then activate special services such as booking flights or cars for their employees within the WeChat app.
The search function offers great entertainment value. It can be used to establish cross-connections between the individual Mini programs. Products, topics, and contacts are searched for using keywords. To be found, the shop operators publish their articles in the “Official Accounts” with keywords. Likewise, content from friends can be found in the categories “Moments”, “Conversations”, “Histories”, “Stickers” etc.
Customers search for products, research news from the media or discussion topics and conversations from friends. The search function serves primarily to keep track of all topics in the app. From a marketing point of view, it naturally has the function of retaining the attention of customers for as long as possible. Today, every user spends an average of more than 90 minutes per day alone with WeChat.
Ok guys, I hope you learned something new about the functions and possibilities WeChat offers. Did you know about the functions before? Let me know in the comments!