The power of the WeChat super app

06 Jul 2021

With a population of over 1.4 billion people and a fast-growing middle class with disposable income, China is easily the most attractive market for foreign property developers in Asia. But the conventional rules of marketing to this audience may not apply. For instance, Facebook and Twitter may be two of the most popular social media apps in the West. But in China, WeChat (微信 Wēixìn) reigns supreme and now counts more than 1.2 billion users.

Source: Digital 2021 China

 

WeChat is the sixth-largest social media app in the world and combines the functionality of apps like Venmo, WhatsApp, Facebook, Google News, and Pinterest. WeChat has often been referred to as a public utility service, allowing Chinese users to do the following without leaving the app:

    • Shop for goods and services – WeChat Official Accounts can create WeChat stores and offer “one-click-payment,” creating a convenient in-app shopping experience.
    • Transfer money and manage bank/credit card accounts – WeChat Pay is WeChat’s digital wallet and payment service that connects the app to the user’s credit card or bank account.
    • Explore content in the WeChat network – WeChat Search is the platform’s built-in search engine that allows users to explore content in the WeChat network:
    • Messaging – Like WhatsApp, WeChat shows users a list of their active conversations. Chinese users can scan each other’s unique WeChat QR code to exchange contact information.
    • Social sharing – WeChat Moments is a core feature that lets users upload text-based posts, up to nine images per post, videos, and articles—similar to a Facebook Timeline or Twitter Timeline.

 

What can property developers do on WeChat?

WeChat’s biggest draw for businesses is its tight integration of disparate services in one platform. Rather than go to one app for banking and another app to book a taxi, users have access to these services within WeChat itself.

Foreign developers looking to join this ecosystem can create WeChat Official Accounts, which are also available to media and government organisations, celebrities, and thought leaders. These accounts are similar to Facebook Pages or verified Twitter accounts, in that any WeChat user can follow them and receive push notifications from them.

Companies also have the option of launching WeChat Mini Programs.

Introduced in 2017, Mini Programs are third-party sub-applications or applets that enable businesses to provide advanced services such as eCommerce stores, interactive maps (e.g., Tesla charging station locations, maps for amusement parks like Legoland), food delivery, and even real estate services for Chinese property buyers and developers within the WeChat app.

Mini programs are where WeChat expects to see massive growth over the next few years. They facilitated 1.6 trillion yuan (close to US$250 billion) in annual transactions in 2020—double the value of Mini Program transactions in the previous year.

 

WeChat challenges awaiting foreign property developers

Admittedly, the process of creating an Official Account in WeChat is more complicated for foreign property developers (or any other type of foreign business for that matter) looking to market themselves to Chinese investors. There are tedious tasks to complete and government regulations to comply with, not to mention cultural nuances and unique investing habits that need to be integrated into your marketing messages.

 

How to market your brand on WeChat

As China’s largest social media platform, WeChat holds tremendous promise for international property developers looking to reach out to Chinese property buyers. Here are some areas you may consider adopting when ideating your next marketing plan: 

 

1.   Content marketing

Perhaps the easiest and most common way brands market themselves on WeChat is through content marketing. Almost all brands on the platform publish informative and promotional content on their official accounts in the form of short messages and articles.

The biggest challenge with content marketing is the difficulty of capturing people’s attention. To do so, content must always be great. In one survey, “Useful” was the content factor that compelled 49% of WeChat users to share articles. By comparison, “Interesting” and “Trendy” only got 39% and 20%, respectively.

PropertyGuru China Solutions offers property developers the convenience of building a brand zone for Chinese investors through content and video marketing on PropertyGuru’s Official Account on WeChat. We’ll also make sure that your developments are marketed on other critical Chinese digital platforms, including Anjuke, Youku, iQiyi, and Douyin.

 

2.   WeChat KOL advertising

KOL advertising is China’s version of social media influencer marketing. A KOL is a Key Opinion Leader; in WeChat, these are accounts that hold clout in their niches. KOLs can be individuals, organisations, or communities—but they always produce high-quality content on WeChat and have a large group of loyal followers.

The biggest challenge of KOL advertising is finding a KOL that matches your brand’s needs. This challenge is further compounded if you’re an outsider looking in. Through PropertyGuru China Solutions, your brand gets instant access to our partner KOLs on WeChat and Xiaohongshu (“Little Red Book”), China’s leading social and eCommerce platform. You’ll also get premiere visibility on our exclusive B2C online or physical event targeting Chinese residents and investors in Singapore.

 

3.   Building a WeChat shop front

When it comes down to it, the best way for businesses to immediately generate leads and drive brand engagement on WeChat is by using a Mini Program to build a shop front. This is simple enough to do with eCommerce—simply marry a data feed of SKUs with pre-built templates.

As mentioned earlier, Mini Programs are native to the WeChat ecosystem, allowing users to interact with your shop front without leaving the app. But the real kicker is this: everyday WeChat users in China prefer Mini Programs over their standalone app alternatives. It’s how services like DiDi, China’s ride-sharing giant, drove more users to their product.

 

Need help marketing on WeChat? Find a trusted and experienced partner

If marketing to China sounds exciting but still daunting to you, you are not alone. Chinese social media is vastly different from Western social media, and many brands were unsuccessful in capturing this market.

That is why PropertyGuru China Solutions provides developers with domain expertise and consumer insights on our exclusive WeChat official channels. Our experienced planning team is here to help you prepare an effective media plan for potential Chinese investors on WeChat.

Grow brand awareness, trust and generate leads from Chinese property investors for your project with the perfectly matched real estate solutions today!

Contact PropertyGuru to learn more.