The other day forced by the hunger pang, we came down from the office to the backyard to buy some breakfast and found out that a gentleman that had been selling Chinese pancakes in the neighborhood glued on his stand a QR code poster. At first we thought he sold someone an advertising space – it is pretty common in China to see rickshaws with posters of different e-commerce shops and other advertisers on their carts.
Just out of curiosity, we scanned this and it turned out that the pancakes’ seller has his own account on one of the most popular Chinese social networking sites, Weixin (微信, or WeChat). It is not just some ordinary personal account, but a business account, Individual Proprietor “Pancakes at the door”
He promotes his account so skillfully that some of our acquaintances, the owners of big businesses, could not even imagine! Although most of them are familiar with social networking sites, they are not used properly. There is a special offer «Order a pancake beforehand and come for it at any time of the day, it is guaranteed to be here». Those, who have a first-hand experience of standing in the queue for a breakfast and watching wistfully yet another bus passing by, understand how convenient it is.
This service is also very useful at the lunch time — a lot of precious time can be saved this way. And the most important is that his account status clearly shows whether he is on the spot or not.
As it is usually the case, one works at the office until late afternoon and starts feeling excessively hungry by the end of the day. A tormenting thought begins to control the consciousness. Is that pancake’s stand still there or has it already left? Should I come down or not? But, now you can just add him to your friends and voilà!
However, there are people who still have doubts about Weixin. Is it worth it? Why is it better than other social networking sites?
There is a myth that promotion on Weixin is very expensive and time-consuming. When you come to a marketing agency that does social networks and ask to do Weixin promotion, they usually greet you with a heavy sigh and a look of sadness in the eyes, and then tell you in a soft and slightly tired voice that you need a special app for this, which development takes a lot of time (assuming, of course, that your account brings some original content and real value to users, not just self-advertising or promotion).
But, if you want to increase the number of followers and thus a base of potential customers, you can use simple “grassroots DIY methods” 草根微信运营之路 that we would like to share with you.
There are two types of account: 订阅公众号 or 服务公众号. The first is used by mass media, the second is used by banks, private companies, etc. You also need a telephone number for the account activation.
There is a limit: one number – two accounts. You choose the type only once at the registration and can not change it. Deleting account is not possible. So, be careful and make sure that there are enough of Chinese numbers.
订阅公众号 is limited to only one broadcast message a day (to all of the followers).
服务公众号 — one broadcast message a month!!! But, there are a lot of opportunities for using API. It is only for those “perverts” who want to integrate a shop into a messaging system.
A confirmation 认证 is only given to companies who have at least 500 followers. A process of getting a confirmation for foreign companies is more complicated. According to the official website, you have to translate several documents and send them to a certain email-address, after which you will be redirected to an intermediary company (an official guarantor, such as Digital Jungle or Netconcepts) that charges about 1000 Euro for a verification (it is free for Chinese companies).
#1: Using some go-between software
If you still do not have an account in 陌陌 or 遇见, which are also popular social networking sites, we recommend you create one right now and complete it thoroughly.
A working principle behind them is pretty simple: they allow you to find people that are somewhere near you, and get acquainted with them. A photo, nickname and signature should be thoroughly planned – «adding» is done by intuition, that’s why you should stand out of the crowd. Opening corporate accounts is not recommended on these social networking sites, because they get on nerves of ordinary users. But, you can mention your professional activities and business in a signature 个性签名.
Here is the most important tip! Write «I am not often here, add me in Weixin» (陌陌/遇见少上，请加微信*******). If you will be active in these networks, some percentage of users will move to you.
#2: Using Weibo
It is great, if you have a weibo (微博), another representative of social networking sites in China: you can tell them directly that yоu started promoting your Weixin.
If you have never done Weibo promotion, there is an alternative. First, create a «long post» 长微博 that is usually a series of pictures and “subtly” add a QR code. Do not forget about keywords!
It works this way: a user types into Weibo a search request «tourism in Altai 阿尔泰山脉», sees your compilation of the best Altai sights, notices a code with a title «Do you want to learn more about Altai? Add us in Weixin!» If the interest is genuine and steady, the user will check out your page.
This strategy works fantastically well for Taobao sellers that create enormous catalogues with their products and send them to Weibo.
#3: Free stuff
There is no better incentive for a flow of new users than contests, sweepstakes or lotteries. You do not have to give away autos and apartments. There is a nice option of sending online red envelopes 发红包, inside which you can put a few Yuan. To use this function, you have to link your account to a bank card.
#4: Catching a big fish with a little bait
The biggest disadvantage of a corporate account is the pure fact that it is corporate. If people are not fans of your company, they will not want to see you in their news feed. There is no incentive to add you. If it was a personal account, they could make friends or flirt with you. A business account is boring and commercial.
Let’s register a few personal accounts. Use your imagination and generate some virtual owners for them. The more interesting their personal information is, the more often you will use 摇一摇, the more interested people will “knock on” your account.
When that number reaches a few hundreds, start a subtle promotion of your corporate account via a personal one. 20% of people will eventually migrate there.
#5: A Pirate Message in a Bottle
Scatter around bottles with messages inside 漂流瓶. You may register a lot of new fake accounts and use them for this purpose – or forget about wasting time on fake accounts and use an official account alone (you can send away up to a thousand of bottles without getting punished or banned).
What matters the most is not the number of the bottles, but their content. If a message is intriguing for a user, the user is caught.
#6: Sweet and spicy
There is no more popular type of account on social networking sites than a sweet sentimental girly account. The main task here is choosing the right photo (it should not be too conservative, but also not too revealing). In a signature you can write that you like sitting on a windowsill wrapped in a blanket, drinking coffee and thinking about Him. But, please highlight the fact that you have not met Him yet, because our target market is lonely men.
Believe it or not (!) by playing the role of a mysterious girl, you can promote online-games quite successfully, because men, who love virtual girls, can generally afford other types of virtual entertainment.
Let’s summarize the main techniques that can help you achieve your marketing goals:
- Determine the most popular geographical location of your target audience (there is no point of using Wechat in the outskirts of Beijing, if your potential clients are rich expats that live in Guomao),
- Carefully plan the design of your account,
- Use several platforms at the same time (豆瓣，微博，人人网, etc.),
- Do not be afraid of bold experiments