Starting WeChat: How To Get The First 500 Followers
When launching a social campaign on any platform, the toughest part can be getting the ball rolling. Once you have followers, it gets easier-and-easier to spread the word by expanding on your existing network.
Estrella Yang, our lead social marketer, has prepared the following tips for you, and I've 'Englishified' them.
1) Prepare your account and content
Make sure you are clear on who your target readers are, how you want to present your brand, and what you want to convey to them. Be clear on what your marketing goals are.
Setup a content posting schedule that you can reasonably achieve.
When readers first check your account and decide whether or not to follow, they’ll usually check out the last few posts you’ve made. If those posts resonate with them, they’re likely to follow you. So we recommend making 2-3 posts first, before moving on to the next steps.
Make sure you use unique content.
2) Use HTML5 pages
HTML5 WeChat pages allow you to blend text, images, video & interactive elements to create a more engaging experience for users.
Burberry makes use of the shake, click and rub functionality to form a very artistic & engaging experience that’s more likely to gain them followers and drive social sharing.
The reader shakes the phone to continue the display. You can try it out here. (It feels better on WeChat in my opinion.)
And here’s another video that shows an action-based HTML5 experience on WeChat.
3) Try Prize Campaigns
WeChat doesn’t have prize campaign functionality built in, but with third-party applications you can run random-winner prize campaigns events.
These types of campaigns can be very helpful in growing a fan base, but the downside is that they tend to attract followers that aren’t highly relevant. They come for the prizes, not necessarily because they have much interest in your brand or products.
4) Have KOLs recommend your account
KOL = Key Opinion Leader. These are WeChat accounts/users that have a strong following in a given niche.
Having the right KOL recommend your account can be a good way to gain targeted readers. We find that about 15% of a KOL’s readers will see the post.
The problem with KOLs is that they can be very expensive, and it’s tough to predict results ahead of time. Plus, it isn’t actually allowed, so could get taken down by WeChat if reported.
Below is a post made on a WeChat account, essentially advertising another account.
Although this can work, we always opt for creating unique articles, rather than just having KOLs recommend an account. Which brings us to the next point…
5) Have a KOL post an article
Instead of having a WeChat KOL just post a blurb about your account, you can have them post a well-written and valuable article. This provides much better value to readers and forms a stronger connection with them.
We’ve seen better results using this method, and it’s one of our go-to tactics for companies that want to build a following more quickly. Although it is still expensive, at these early stages in the game it’s essential to either spend money or time to get the ball rolling.
6) WeChat Ads
There are currently two kinds of WeChat ads.
The first are WeChat moment ads. These are shown in readers’ newsfeeds.
You can see one from TripAdvisor below.
The lowest spend is now only 50,000 CNY. Peanuts for Chinese companies, although still likely a bit steep for toe-dipping foreigners. A common CPM (cost per thousand impressions) is 150 CNY, but if varies by region.
The second type of ads are the public account (公众号) ads.
These show underneath articles published by other public accounts. For example, see below. CPCs range from 0.5-20 CNY, with a daily budget range of 50, 4 million CNY.
These prices and advertising details change rapidly. So if you’re thinking of advertising, best to ask first. And try to hunt for deals via agencies that have some media-buying power, like us.
7) Drive traffic from your current social profiles
Many of the big WeChat accounts started by individuals & small businesses were first Weibo accounts. The owners used their Weibo accounts to drive people to sign up on their WeChat accounts.
If you have existing social accounts, you can promote other social accounts. It works best if your users will gain some additional value by following you in more than one place.
Weibo & WeChat are very different platforms, and many users use both platforms. WeChat is better for subscribing to news, and engaging individual users. But Weibo is often easier to gain viral momentum on.
But now Weibo and WeChat don’t get along. Weibo doesn’t allow WeChat QR codes in photos anymore. But it’s still OK to add the WeChat ID.
8) Add WeChat QR codes everywhere. EVERYWHERE!
China is crazy for WeChat QR codes. The reason is that businesses value their WeChat followers so highly.
So you can put them on your website.
And put them on your offline materials. For example, restaurant menus, brochures, outdoor advertisements, print advertisements.
It works best if you provide people with a special deal, or compelling content.
The major drawback here is that these methods will only attract people that already know about your brand, and are likely already customers. It doesn’t help directly reach new customers.
Another tactic people use is to hire part-time workers to hit the streets by asking others to follow their WeChat account. Think of it as the equivalent of how people hand out paper coupons and flyers.
Also remember to leave your WeChat account info on other content you publish online, if/when that’s allowed.
9) QQ Groups
Marketing blogs tend to focus on what’s new, but not necessarily what provides the best results. We use lots of old-school methods in our day-to-day marketing. One of those is QQ groups. QQ groups are easily searchable. They’re an easier way to ‘get your foot in the door’ if you are starting with very few connections within your niche in China.
The drawback is that you can’t know what to expect from these groups. They can be full of people that aren’t as relevant for your business. We target the ones we think are better, then tend to focus on just a few groups that turn out to be more valuable for the given campaign.
10) One thing NOT to do
Just one last thing to add in – do not buy followers.
Below is an ad on Taobao for WeChat fans. 50,000 followers for 1 Yuan. Of course, the quality is about 0. For this price, the fans are sure to be bots.
Of course, we’ve seen marketing agencies sell their services based on fan count. It’s very easy for them to make that count. All they need to do is slowly add in some fake fans along with the real work, then charge the client the big bucks for it. The tactic of using fake traffic is also used by Chinese SEO service providers.
- You can do it by putting time & effort into interacting with people.
- You can also do it by spending money to buy ads or KOL exposure.
- The better your content, the easier it will be to spread your message. Once we are working on campaigns that already have many relevant followers, we shift out focus to the content almost entirely.
- And it’s best to leverage the momentum of your current resources, offline & online.
What else have you done to gain those first followers on WeChat?