There is a new mobile app that should be added to any Asian marketer’s priority list: WeChat

WeChat is a mobile communication tool that supports sending voice, video, photo and text messages. You can also do group chats, or you can find new friends nearby to talk to. WeChat works on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Symbian and Blackberry devices.

We introduced WeChat in an earlier post here in November.

Currently boasting over 300 million users in China, the leading mobile group messaging app WeChat (weixin, 微信) now reaches 70%  of China’s 3G mobile phones and continues to catch on in China as well as throughout Asia.

As netizens in China spend less time on PCs, increasingly using tablets and smartphones for communication, games, news-gathering and commerce, WeChat is perhaps the best way to reach this young and crucial audience.Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 11.08.47

As a result of this shift to mobile, recent development’s in WeChat’s capabilities include verified corporate accounts. Individuals can follow verified brand accounts by either scanning a QR code (in a store, online shop or print ad), or getting a member of their WeChat network to share the account. The brands themselves can’t reach the end-user — it’s the individual user who has to reach the brand. For brands, quality and creative content are key to attracting followers.

Verified accounts offer a brand or company the ability to post “rich media content” (video, text, audio messages, photos) to followers’ WeChat stream.

Left: Corporate Verified WeChat accounts. Right: "Mini-article" posted by Forbes on WeChat

Left: Corporate Verified WeChat accounts. Right: “Mini-article” posted by Forbes on WeChat

WeChat’s Membership function helps build a bridge between Online and Offline activities and convert “followers” into “members.” This function essentially creates a Loyalty Program where individuals can use their membership cards — which are geolocalized and paired to the user by their phone number and WeChat ID — offline and/or online. This function lets brands adapt their marketing content and pinpoint sales promotions to a certain subset of consumers.

The Jing Daily sums up by making an optimistic prediction for the future of WeChat:

In the year ahead, WeChat has a number of technical developments in the pipeline, which are already being explored by corporations and premium brands. Among these developments are the ability to connect two CRM systems, online booking systems (Pod Inn, Air China), increasing sales via offline promotions (Herborist), and everything from loyalty programs to e-commerce functionality. Some of the earliest next steps will be the integration of a payment system (Tenpay) and a new version of the WeChat app itself that will improve the visibility of C-to-C and B-to-C channels.

WeChat is filling the gap between Online and Offline and is a perfect gateway for building greater brand awareness and CRM. In the year ahead, premium brands will expand strongly into mobile marketing and e-commerce, and for many of them, WeChat is already a must-have.

Full Jing Daily article here.