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WeChat's Enduring Dominance Amidst Evolving Social Media Trends

Several months ago, WeChat enhanced its Official Account display functions by introducing new features, including the Livestream function (which I haven't tried yet) and an auto-generated "listened /听全文" function. This feature allows viewers to tap on it and listen to the content instead of reading the article. You can find the article below on WeChat by searching for its title "Jingle Bells and Dragon Spells" to experience it firsthand. I was impressed by the minimal errors that occurred during the listening session. (My article is in English so it's read out in English with Chinese accent😆)

With the emergence of other social media platforms like XiaoHongShu (小红书) and TikTok (抖音), attention on the WeChat platform has started to dilute. Nonetheless, WeChat remains a dominant player, serving not only as a messenger app but also as a payment service provider.

Companies leverage WeChat Official Accounts not only to function as a virtual storefront for displaying their company profile, products and/or services but also to create engaging content in the form of articles or short videos (WeChat Channels is a short video platform to compete with TikTok). This content is used to broadcast the latest updates and run campaigns, fostering interaction with their followers.

Moreover, government bodies recognize the potential of WeChat Official Accounts, using them as a means to update the public on the latest news and actively engage with the audience. Despite the evolving social media landscape, WeChat continues to play a pivotal role in both commercial and public communication strategies.

Given the recent advancements in WeChat's Official Account features, it presents a compelling opportunity for businesses looking to tap into the People's Republic of China (PRC) community which includes out of China market.

Understanding the buying behavior of the PRC market is crucial and statistics show that incorporating interactive features like the "listened" function aka Podcasts can be highly effective in capturing audience attention. Don't miss out on the chance to leverage these features and make your mark in the thriving PRC market.

This marks my final article of the year, and I want to extend my heartfelt wishes to everyone for a wonderful year ahead.

 Warren is an experienced serial entrepreneur, having started his 1st biz in 1999. Since then he has ventured into various industries, including telecommunications, F&B, training and business consultancy for the Chinese market. He was one of the few  overseas WeChat Entreprenuers endorsed by WeChat in 2019.

Warren currently focus in helping Singapore companies to expand their businesses thru building Chinese digital presence, conduct market research, company set up, providing marketing strategies to finding potential partners in Shanghai, China.

 

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Cross-Cultural Market Entry Practices

Several months ago, my Shanghai partner decided to bring a renowned ERP system from China to Singapore market. Recognizing its value proposition, particularly for e-commerce players after checking with a few of my friends who are industry players with positive feedback, I stepped into the role to promote their products.

This ERP system set value for money at new high, especially for ecommerce players.

We initiated a hybrid soft launch. However, our optimism took a hit when a presentation from China team conducted the session entirely in Mandarin despite I instructed them to conduct in English. In the diverse Singapore business environment, this linguistic misstep led to half the participants, especially those online exiting the session prematurely. Learning from this setback, I stressed the critical importance of language and cultural alignment. Recognizing the need for effective communication, I insisted on translating and adapting their presentation into English. Despite their initial hesitation, the revamped English lingo deck resonated seamlessly with the Singapore audience in subsequent engagements. This experience underscored the significance of linguistic and cultural adaptation for successful market penetration.

A similar scenario unfolded with another client in the education industry aiming to enter the Chinese market. Language barriers presented a formidable obstacle, as the management team lacked proficiency in Chinese and online translation tools proved insufficient. Realizing the nuances lost in translation, my team adopted a different approach. We crafted customize China lingo contents to display on their WeChat platform, followed by XiaoHongShu (a platform similar to IG in China) as the next step.  

The involvement of a professional translation and copywriting team was instrumental. Considering cultural subtleties, they transformed the client's materials into China lingo language that felt authentic to the People's Republic of China. The impact was tangible, creating a connection that transcended mere words and resonated with the local audience.

Current offer for Chinese content creation

 

However, this experience highlighted that linguistic prowess alone was not sufficient. Recognizing the intricate web of cultural differences, I understood the necessity of a local Business Development (BD) team presence. This team became the linchpin, navigating the complexities of the foreign market, building relationships with local businesses and regulators to ensure our strategies were not just understood but embraced.

In essence, the symbiotic relationship between a professional translation and copywriting team, coupled with a savvy local BD team, emerged as the catalyst for success in international markets. It became evident that it's not just about language; it's about crafting a narrative that resonates authentically across borders. The fusion of linguistic and cultural adaptation, along with the strategic insights provided by a local BD team, ensures that your business story transcends linguistic and cultural barriers, fostering a meaningful connection with the target audience. This holistic approach is crucial for establishing a strong foothold and achieving sustained success in foreign markets.

 

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China is back for business

China, with its vast market potential, is back in business and inviting foreign companies to tap into its immense opportunities. In recent news, we witnessed influential figures like China’s Xi greets ‘old friend’ Bill Gates in first meeting with a US business magnate in years, Elon Musk, and Tim Cook being welcomed by Chinese leaders during their visits to the country. Regardless of differing geopolitical views, these successful entrepreneurs understand the undeniable significance of the Chinese market.

To succeed in China's dynamic business environment, establishing an online presence has become essential. One platform that stands out is WeChat, the nation's leading social media and messaging app. Companies seeking to make a lasting impact and effectively connect with Chinese consumers must have a WeChat Official Account.

Why is a WeChat Official Account vital for entering the Chinese market? Firstly, WeChat boasts over a billion monthly active users, making it a powerful tool for reaching a vast audience. With its diverse range of features, businesses can engage customers through content sharing, interactive promotions, e-commerce capabilities, and customer service functionalities.

Additionally, China's unique one-party policy allows for efficient implementation of incentives, streamlining business operations for foreign companies. By establishing a WeChat Official Account, you can leverage this advantage and benefit from China's business-friendly environment.

In recognition of China's economic potential, the Beijing Zhongguancun Embarks on '4.0' Era of Business Incubation (中关村) has extended an invitation to collaborate and visit their esteemed institution. This collaboration presents a remarkable opportunity to gain insights into China's market dynamics, build valuable connections, and explore avenues for growth.

To seize the limitless possibilities in China, it is imperative for companies to establish an online presence through a WeChat Official Account. By doing so, you can effectively resonate with Chinese consumers, expand your reach and establish a strong foothold in this thriving market.

Don't miss out on this chance to be part of China's resurgence. Reach out to us today to learn more about how a WeChat Official Account can unlock your business's success in China's burgeoning market.

Embrace China's business resurgence, establish your online presence with a WeChat Official Account and unlock the doors to limitless opportunities.

email: warren@wechatapp.com.sg

Tsuruha Drug Express

WeChat Ecosystem: Providing Solutions for Enterprises to Expand their Business

WeChat's ecosystem provides a range of digital solutions that are based on WeChat Pay, which serves as the entrance to the platform. The ecosystem integrates a range of digital tools such as Official Accounts, Mini Programs, WeChat Channels (video accounts), QR code scanning, WeChat groups and Moments, all of which have landing scenarios overseas. These tools can be used to create innovative solutions for various industries, including e-commerce, tourism, retail, F&B, education institutions etc.

Building a New Platform for Social E-Commerce

One of the key advantages of WeChat's ecosystem is that it enables enterprises to build a new platform for social e-commerce. This has effectively promoted the transformation of traditional retail into cross-border e-commerce and facilitated better connections between overseas brands and domestic users. For example, over the past two years, the number of active WeChat Mini Programs from Southeast Asian merchants has increased tenfold. This includes Big C, one of Thailand's largest supermarkets, and Wanjing Conservation Group, which operates tourist attractions such as Singapore's largest wildlife world and zoo.

 

In April 2021, the Korean street fashion brand, launched a WeChat Mini Program Mall, and in just a few months, the average monthly transaction volume of Mini Programs increased by nearly 40%. About 30% of customers continue to repurchase in the Mini Program. In October 2020, Japan Tsuruha Drug Express launched a cross-border e-commerce Mini Program, based on WeChat's ecological capabilities with social communication sharing as leverage, received 24% order conversion rate, 43% half-year repeat orders, and a sharing rate of 20%. Mini Program transactions increased by 200%, and successfully opened up new revenue channel during the epidemic.

A New Cross-Border Sales Model: Weixin Mini Programs + eCommerce + social media.

Enriching Innovative Tourism and Promoting Chinese-style "Smart City" Projects to Go Overseas

WeChat's ecosystem can be used to enrich innovative tourism and promote Chinese-style "smart city" projects to go overseas. For example, Furano City Government of Japan reached a cooperation agreement with WeChat Pay at the end of 2020, allowing Chinese tourists to make ski resort reservation, ticket purchase, bus route inquiry, QR code recognition for riding through the Furano Mini Program.

The national railway operation departments of Switzerland and South Korea have also launched official ticket purchase via WeChat Mini Programs, which not only improve the efficiency and experience of Chinese tourists in purchasing tickets but also solve the pain points of language and information barriers. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in the Netherlands is also Europe's first WeChat Pay smart flagship airport, providing Chinese tourists with a faster overseas travel experience through full-platform ecological capabilities such as Mini Programs and WeChat Pay.

Helping Local Small and Medium-Sized Businesses in Digital Transformation

In the age of digitalization, businesses must adapt to keep up with the rapidly changing times. WeChat Marketing Development is one such digital solution that Singapore merchants can adopt to improve their businesses. WeChat has a large user base, making it an attractive platform for merchants to engage with their customers. In this article, we will explore several case studies of how WeChat has helped Singaporean businesses transform and thrive.

The first case study is Grab, the ride-hailing platform. Grab launched a Mini Program on WeChat, allowing WeChat users to request rides directly from 480 cities in eight Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore. This move was aimed at Chinese tourists who are unlikely to download additional apps during their travels. Mini Program has enabled Grab to offer a more convenient taxi service to Chinese tourists, further expanding their customer base.

 

Second case study is Mandai Conservation Group, which has used WeChat to enhance visitor experience at Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari. Visitors can purchase tickets and rent strollers through the WeChat Mini Program. Since launch, their Mini Program has attracted over 10,000 users and increased sevenfold on average monthly user base. The Mini Program complemented existing ticketing channels, providing a more convenient and seamless experience for visitors.

CapitaLand Mall is another Singapore's business that has leveraged on WeChat to offer convenient shopping experience to Chinese tourists. In 2019, CapitaLand Mall introduced WeChat Pay to its eight shopping centers. Today, CapitaMall's WeChat account has over 200,000 followers and was the first merchant in Singapore to try Mini Programs. After the launch of the Mini Program, offline transactions increased by 16.5%, and the number of Mini Program visits quadrupled in one year.

The fourth case study is Metro, a department store that launched a WeChat Mini Program during the pandemic to provide customers with a seamless online and offline omni-channel shopping experience. Metro's Mini Program was widely welcomed, demonstrating the importance of digital transformation in the retail industry.

Final case study is WeChat Pay's partnership with Singapore's hawker centers. WeChat Pay has connected to nearly 10,000 hawker restaurants in Singapore, providing customers with a fast, cashless, and zero-contact mobile payment experience. During the pandemic, WeChat Pay helped hawker centers increase the number of transactions and launched the "Singapore Food Check-in" activity to promote Singapore's food culture in conjunction with the Singapore Food Festival.

In conclusion, WeChat Marketing Development is a digital solution that can help Singapore businesses transform and thrive. The case studies above demonstrate how businesses in various industries have used WeChat to improve customer experience, increase transactions, and promote their brand. With WeChat's large user base (over 1 million mainland Chinese live in Singapore excluding tourist) and its suite of digital tools, Singapore merchants can engage with their customers more effectively and achieve business goals.

To know more on how can you leverage on WeChat for you business, contact lobang@wechatapp.com.sg

Tip: How to search on WeChat?

WeChat search is a feature within the WeChat app that allows users to search for specific content, such as messages, contacts, articles, mini programs, and public accounts. Users can access WeChat search by tapping on the "Search" icon located on the app's under "Discover".

WeChat search uses a smart search algorithm that can recognize keywords in various formats, including text, voice, and image. This feature can be particularly useful for users who need to quickly find specific information within their WeChat conversations or explore new content on the platform.

Some common use cases for WeChat search include:

  • Finding messages or conversations with specific keywords
  • Searching for contacts by name or keyword
  • Discovering new Mini Programs or Official Accounts by searching for relevant keywords or categories
  • Looking up articles or news stories on WeChat's integrated search engine

Overall, WeChat search is a powerful feature that can help users navigate the platform more efficiently and discover new content. It's an essential tool for anyone who uses WeChat regularly and wants to make the most of its features.

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A Chinese retailer’s digital transformation journey

Last November, Tianhong’s Junshang 3019sp@ce supermarket officially upgraded to a WeChat payment smart retail store. The number of cashiers reduced from 15-20 to only two on that day, most of which were replaced by self-checkout machines.

Now, consumers only need to open the WeChat “scan” function and scan the product QR code price tag, and the products can be automatically added to the shopping cart. Customers can even perform face recognition and complete payment using machines provided.

In April 2018, Tianhong, one of the major retailers in China, cooperated with Tencent to set up a “smart retail lab” to jointly develop products for new retail. But this is not their first cooperation.

In September 2013, Tianhong reached strategic collaboration with Tencent. In the domestic retail industry, Tianhong was the first company to cooperate with Tencent to customize the WeChat service account.

As of now, Tianhong has completed the digital transformation for most consumer scenarios. The number of Tianhong members is over 18 million, of which the digitalization ratio has reached more than 80%, and the number of digital members is nearly 16 million.

According to the logic of traditional retail, to get more customers, you need to open more physical stores, which is not the best way for Tianhong at that time. “Omnichannel” is the solution for Tianhong to expand the customer base and achieve more customer connections, that is, the online and offline integration mode.

The real beginning of the omnichannel business is cooperation with WeChat. In September 2013, Tianhong and Tencent reached a strategic partnership and jointly developed the first custom WeChat service account in China’s retail enterprises, focusing on three aspects which is instant service, selected service and interactive marketing.

This cooperation immediately caused fluctuations in the capital market. Since Tianhong and Tencent announced the collaboration, within ten days, Tianhong share price experienced five single-day 10% increase, showing full attention and recognition from the capital market.

At the consumer level, it took less than two years to go online, and Tianhong’s WeChat service account has more than 2.5 million fans.

When Tianhong is attracting the new fans through WeChat, it also improves offline business by attracting consumers visiting the physical store. For example, less than two years after the launch, through the start of the WeChat service account, member interaction, and promotion, Tianhong WeChat service account has attracted more than 2 billion people to the physical stores.

Tianhong is a retail company that has started O2O and mobile app very early. In the general perception, when offline physical retail enterprises go through digital transformation, then a large number of increments in sales shall come from the online orders, which is the strategy practiced by Alibaba’s Hema.

However, the digitalization of the Tianhong is not the case. Although Tianhong also has an online business, the current order quantity is about 10% of the total. For the future, Tianhong also said that they do not expect a substantial increase in online orders. As Tan Xiaohua said, “The digitalization transformation of our business is to expand our existing powerful physical store, but not starting a new and smaller scale online business.”

Source: ChinaInternetWatch

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TikTok Could Shake Silicon Valley's Free-Trade Instincts

China’s rise as a tech powerhouse could become one of the dominant stories of the 2020s.

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A*STAR WeChat Marketing

A*STAR Science in Singapore asked us to teach their entire branding and marketing team. They want to know about how to use WeChat to attract top scientists and investment partnerships into Singapore. Warren Teh our CEO was more than happy to teach them how to use leverage this platform to achieve their KPIs. They were so happy that in the end they presented us with a intriguing science book that Warren's daughters will love.

Want to learn more how to get customers from China? Do you have run a marketing team and are quite blur to how you can use WeChat? Just drop us a line and we will be happy to get you up to speed.

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Former LinkedIn China exec criticizes the platform for lagging WeChat

Former LinkedIn China president Derek Shen said Monday that the professional networking site has “lagged way behind” Tencent’s chat platform WeChat, two years after stepping down from the company.

“It’s horrible that the LinkedIn product managers don’t even realize they have lagged way behind a list of new social networking services such as WeChat, feeling good about themselves instead,” said Shen in a LinkedIn post on Monday. The former LinkedIn executive said that he tried to improve the platform when he joined the company six years ago, but struggled to make progress as it involved so many stakeholders within the organization.

Shen’s posted his public gripe after he was unable to message a newly added friend. He also said that the company was prioritizing profits by prominently displaying features such as friend recommendations while leaving out core features such as the friend list.

LinkedIn was not available for comment.

In a reference to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Shen added that LinkedIn should “target WeChat and try to catch up.” Zuckerberg said on Friday that he regretted not taking advice given four years ago to learn from WeChat, reported the South China Morning Post.

China’s professional networking market is dominated by domestic companies. According to Beijing-based research firm Sootoo Research (in Chinese), Alibaba’s Dingtalk is the most popular job connection service for Chinese users beginning in the first half of 2018, with more than 92.6 million downloads during the period.

Two other challengers, Maimai and Tongdao, the messaging platform for online jobs website Liepin, follow with 87 million and 18 million downloads, respectively. LinkedIn was not listed in the report, which ranked the top five professional networking apps.

Derek Shen announced his resignation from LinkedIn China in mid-2017, and immediately assumed his post as executive chairman for the shared housing startup Danke Apartment. The Beijing-based startup just raised $500 million in a Series C led by Alibaba’s fintech arm, Ant Financial, and US-based investment firm, Tiger Global Management.

Source: TechNode

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Mark Zuckerberg says he should have listened to earlier advice about learning from WeChat

Zuckerberg announced last week that Facebook planned to transform into a platform focused on private messaging

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said he regretted not taking note of China’s super-app WeChat sooner after his social media empire announced a shift to private messaging last week amid a privacy crisis, in a move that copies features of China’s dominant social media platform.

“If only I’d listened to your advice four years ago,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook on Friday in response to Jessica Lessin, founder of tech media The Information, who highlighted a March 2015 article she wrote that suggested Facebook should learn from WeChat.

Zuckerberg announced last week that Facebook planned to transform itself into a privacy-focused platform. With a focus on private messaging, it would “build more ways for people to interact on top of that, including calls, video chats, groups, stories, businesses, payments, commerce, and ultimately a platform for many other kinds of private services,” according to Zuckerberg’s post on Thursday.

In that respect, the future of Facebook resembles the reality of WeChat, the ubiquitous Chinese super-app with over 1 billion users developed by Tencent Holdings. WeChat’s omnipotence in China is centred around its basic functions of messaging and social media, which are only open to WeChat friends. But the app also offers a wide range of mini programs, including digital payments, that enable users to shop, hail a taxi, order food, pay utility bills and more.

Tencent did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Facebook’s new direction is a good move but it will have to find a balance between its monetisation from advertising and keeping users on its platform, said Norman Hui, a Hong Kong-based analyst with Zhongtai International Securities.

“WeChat has done a great job in redirecting its user traffic to its portfolio companies such as e-commerce site JD.com and food delivery service Meituan Dianping within the app, but Facebook would have to make huge efforts to cultivate a similar behaviour among its users, who are now used to leaving Facebook for Ebay or Amazon when they make a purchase.”

Facebook’s new vision for social media comes amid the ongoing public backlash concerning the platform’s use of personal data. Zuckerberg acknowledged the issue of data privacy in his post last week, saying the company “[does not] currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services” but it will “[implement] end-to-end encryption for all private communications”.

Without end-to-end encryption, WeChat has been criticised for not doing enough to protect user data. While Tencent claims that WeChat does not spy on user conversations nor retain records, it said it would comply with any law enforcement requests for user data. “We are very concerned about user data security. It is top of our concerns. In a law enforcement situation, of course, any company has to comply with the regulations and laws within the country,” Tencent president Martin Lau Chi-ping said last year.

Even as Facebook seeks to take a leaf out of WeChat’s book, the Chinese app is already looking to the next phase of development to serve more businesses as part of an industrial internet push.

With an increasingly saturated and competitive consumer market, Tencent revamped its organisational structure on the eve of its 20th anniversary last year to align more closely with enterprise users. In an open letter at the time, founder and chief executive chairman Pony Ma Huateng laid out the rationale for the restructuring, saying that digitisation of the economy meant the battle for the internet has moved from consumers to industry.

In January, the Shenzhen-based Tencent took a big step in extending the use of WeChat beyond smartphones with the introduction of a Siri-like voice assistant that could potentially be deployed by businesses and in smart cars.

WeChat italking, or Xiaowei in Chinese, works on devices from smart speakers to cars by linking WeChat users with Tencent’s stable of services, including QQ Music. Meituan Dianping, Didi Chuxing and Mobike, three on-demand service providers that count Tencent as a strategic investor, will also connect with Xiaowei.

Ma first flagged the innovation last May when he said Tencent was working on a voice-operated version of WeChat for in-vehicle use, a move that could extend the platform’s content and services to millions of drivers and passengers on the road. China is the world’s biggest auto market, for both internal combustion engine cars and electric vehicles.

WeChat has also been providing artificial intelligence tools so that businesses and industries can connect and serve their consumers on WeChat, usually through the use of mini programs, which are applications smaller than 10 megabytes that can run instantly on WeChat’s interface.

In the education field WeChat has been partnering with public schools and private training centres to enable students to make purchases at canteens, check test scores, and do other functions on the app. Tencent’s retail partners, including Walmart, let shoppers skip the queues at the cash register by scanning the products and paying for them on their WeChat app.

We see mini programs as an important tool to empower merchants and brands in acquiring traffic at a lower cost through WeChat’s large social network,” said Jefferies equity analyst Karen Chan in an earlier report.

Source: South China South Post