App and Wechat – Digital Marketing Platforms in China

Relevance continues to share the latest international digital marketing news about social media. China has an emerging digital market in luxury, real estate and many other fields. To promote a business in China, digital marketing professionals can choose to start by creating their own apps or by managing their own official account on the social media platform Wechat (Weixin in Chinese). Following the previous article about Wechat social marketing in China, Relevance presents an analysis of both approaches to promoting a business before offering practical suggestions to business developers.

With more than 400 million active users in May 2015, Wechat is the most popular social networking app among users in China. Wechat official accounts distribute hundreds of thousands of posts every day to their subscribers.

However, there are risks that Wechat business developers need to evaluate.

  • Firstly, digital marketing professionals need to follow the social networking app’s policies. If any of the content of your official account triggers Wechat’s censorship regulations, you may risk your account being banned for a few months or even worse, forever. For example, negative comments regarding some sensitive political contents are not permitted.
  • Secondly, relying on one single platform can be risky as well. For example, Sina Weibo used to be very popular among Chinese Internet users before Wechat gained popularity and a greater market share. Spending efforts on a platform that may not be popular in the future is one thing business developers need to think about.  Furthermore, in the future, Wechat may restrict the function of official accounts so that the platform simply has a social media function. As a result, apart from Wechat, business developers are suggested to use social media platforms such as LinkedIn, lofter and Douban.
  • Finally, users are becoming increasingly selective regarding the content they consume as a result of an increasing number of official accounts.

As a result, an interface with better content and a more user-friendly approach needs to be created.

As an alternative to using Wechat’s official accounts, creating an app to run your business can be a good way to enter the digital market in China. First of all, apps can have several functions, such as having communities for users to share ideas with other users. Apps also have more flexibility on both content and interface. However, creating and managing your own app can be both time and energy-consuming. After launching your app, you need to upgrade it frequently to improve the user experience. Besides this, increasing the number of active users may cost a lot of money.

Here are some suggestions for those who want to enter the Chinese digital market but haven’t decided which platform to start with:

  • Make sure your business fits either of the platforms – a Wechat official account or a company app. If you are aiming to encourage users to communicate with each other, it is better to choose apps since Wechat is a social media platform based on private friend groups only. On the other hand, if you are aiming to simply share information with subscribers, Wechat can be an influential platform.
  • The sooner the better. Wechat is currently a very popular social media platform. Therefore, it is highly recommended to create an official account and benefit from the current social media environment.
  • Don’t give up working on websites for desktop users. Wechat is currently working on its desktop version. Mobile device users haven’t given up using computers, so why would you?

Digital marketing in China has become essential for many business. When launching your business in the Chinese market, choosing the right platform can be a great leap to success.

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