The Communication Method of Choice in China – We Chat

The importance of social media in China

The most widely used device by almost everyone now in China is WeChat.  This has superseded email as the instant communication method of choice.  In fact, getting responses from emails to China is diminishing and often impossible, whereas contact and replies through WeChat is invariably immediate.

What is WeChat?

WeChat is a social media platform extensively used in China where you can connect and communicate with people by text, voice message, videos, pictures and live chat.

It is now estimated WeChat has over 700 million active monthly users.  Perhaps even more impressive is WeChat’s penetration; in the past year it has risen to 90% (from 59%) of smartphone users using the app in China.  This has lead to WeChat ranking as the top app in China.

“Chinese consumers say they are more likely to consider buying a product if they see it mentioned on a social-media site and more likely to purchase a product or service if a friend or acquaintance recommends it on a social-media site.”

Recommendations from peer groups are hugely important and influential in China because there is a fundamental lack of trust in all institutions, companies and organisations.  The Chinese are extremely suspicious of advertising, marketing and even TV & radio news items.
They rely far more on opinions of friends and family and now, those who share information on social media.

The Chinese Internet firewall Facebook and Twitter are not accessible in China, hence the majority of the population are using WeChat to communicate and find their information.

How does it actually work?

After setting up an account you send an invitation to a known contact in order to connect (like Linked In). Once accepted, the communication is set up between you to thereafter receive and give news, information and general chat items at any time. This is on a ‘Private’ or ‘Individual’ Account.

A Public Account offers far more for businesses. You can develop a newsletter template within the facility and manage a full range of actions for sending out promotional news or offers to what is a very ‘target market’. Because people only pass your news onto those who would be interested - which builds your ‘community’ (known as pushing notifications) – it also validates the news at the same time as the items will be trusted because of their source. The Public Account also allows you to see how many people view your notices and lets you contact them.

While the Public Account is the ideal way for developing your brand and news across China there are several rules which apply to it, which Meridian can offer so you can use it:
1. You need to be a Chinese Registered Company
2. The Chinese Company Certificate has to be audited annually for re-registration
3. You have to have a mainland Chinese mobile phone
4. The service is only available in Chinese and English

Essentially the service is only open to Chinese people or Chinese companies and is regulated by the government to ensure only legitimate information is circulated. There is censorship in China of materials that are inflammatory or sensitive, and public networks are heavily regulated hence the banishing of such as facebook or twitter and other western online media.

Meridian can take you into this market through their in-country channels and enable you to present your products and services to a target audience. Your information sent out is effectively ‘breeding’ your community larger and larger.  In China, a large community following a company or person adds considerable asset value to their business.

These notices and news items get sent out in small messages, in Chinese of course, which hits people’s phones instantly and can be read anywhere.   It is also a two way communication system, so the recipients can respond back.

The Chinese use hand devices far more than PC’s or laptops, and with this type of communication they are only receiving information which they wish to, and from whom they choose.

How can it be helpful for you?

The reason why WeChat is so popular with Chinese is because it allows users to have full control of whom they connect with, hence your message receivers are all interested listeners.  This is far more comfortable for them than a random email or letter promotion.

It is the ultimate ‘social media’ platform for connecting with Chinese and now, the vast majority of the Chinese population is using it.

Senior executives at companies throughout China use WeChat for all their communication needs including holding 'virtual' meetings, where they wouldn't even consider going on a computer.  It gives you the ability to tap into networks and it will get your information passed round.

In China nothing is stronger than the ‘word of mouth’ from people who are trusted by their colleagues, and to receive only correct and sincere information.

Comparison with other social media platforms

There are many social networks in China why do we recommend WeChat?

WeChat is by far and away the most popular; also because it has free phone calls and messaging like skype, plus a lot more functions besides.

WeChat is very personal, and the ‘push notifications’ will let receivers get messages instantly unlike email or Weibo (Chinese twitter). Also, being a two-way communication platform posted information can receive questions directly back from customers. This does not happen on other platforms where people can only leave comments.

Meridian can post your news items of interest after translating them, and answer them back after consulting with you. WeChat is the new format of email for every business and consumer in China. If you wish to get to your Chinese market/customers, this is the highway that simply must be used.