Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat are the platforms that get most of marketers’ love in the U.S., but digital practitioners could learn a thing or two from WeChat, China’s booming mobile app that’s one of a growing number of messaging apps brands are watching closely.

The Chinese app boasts more than 600 million users, and some reports claim more than 50 percent of those users open it 10 times a day. While that still pales in comparison to Facebook’s 1 billion daily global users, Tencent-owned WeChat has a tight grip on China’s social and mobile industry compared with competitors like Line and Viber.

Thomas Graziani, co-founder of Chinese agency WalktheChat, which specializes in WeChat marketing spoke with Adweek about how marketing and advertising works on WeChat, which has significant differences from U.S.-based platforms.

A few things marketers should know about WeChat:

It’s the Facebook of China… but more
To grasp WeChat as a marketing platform, it’s important to first understand how the app works and why people use it.

In the U.S., the average smartphone user opens a handful of apps every day to text friends, check email, use social media and take pictures. In China, WeChat is all of those apps rolled into one and is sometimes the only app consumers use.

Here is a short list of things the app lets folks do:

  • Message friends
  • Pay bills and manage their bank accounts
  • Order food
  • Buy clothes and movie tickets
  • Book cabs
  • Make doctor’s appointments
  • Post to social media
  • Send money to friends
  • Check in for flights
  • Read news

Getting onto the platform takes some know-how

There are two options for building a brand following on WeChat: a subscription account that lets brands push out one message per day and a service account that caps the number of brand messages to one a week. Both require setting up an account.

With subscription accounts, brands can push out consistent messaging, which WalktheChat recommends for marketers that already have a strong content-marketing strategy.

Service accounts, on the other hand, reach more people but can’t be used as often by marketers. According to Graziani, these accounts are better suited for brands that want to do more than use the platform for branding—including e-commerce and customer service.

In either case, it’s hard to break through the clutter, and the app requires brands to act more like users than marketers.

“Because people spend all their time on it, it’s extremely competitive to get attention from people,” Graziani said. “The platform is not making it easy for brands to reach users.”

Similar to how digital marketers approached Facebook years ago, brands strive for a lot of followers because WeChat is a numbers game.

See the full article form AdWeek here.

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