In China, there are different social media platforms than the ones used in the US. This is because the country has a strict firewall to the public in order to limit access to western media. For instance, Youku is the country’s version of YouTube while RenRen is seen as the country’s version of Facebook. One such social networking platform is one called Weixin (pronounced “way-shin”), which is similar to WhatsApp in the US or Line in Japan.
Weixin is a popular social networking app that allows users to send messages, share news, and pictures through their mobile phones. It was initially introduced in 2011 in China, and by 2014, Weixin already had more than 300 million active users in China, Southeast Asia, Europe, and America. In that same year, the app was worth $100 billion on the Hong Kong exchange. What makes the app so special is that it has everything users need in one place, so they do not have to leave the app. For instance, not only does it allow you to text and message friends and loved ones, but users can make purchases and even request a taxicab. Weixin set it up this way so that there is no need to use any other app. Everything is built all in one! I’m a nerd for self-efficacy, so anything that encourages that gets me excited. Weixin even claims: “one minute is all you need to open a Weixin shop.”
Weixin introduces new features and campaigns to keep its audience interested. For instance, during the Chinese New Year, Weixin launched the “Qiang Hongbao” campaign (i.e. Red Envelope campaign), where users who linked their bank account could send and/or receive red envelopes virtually. In Chinese culture, the Red Envelope is a tradition that includes a monetary gift that Chinese people give to family and friends during the holidays.
Knowing your audience is the first step towards a successful social media campaign. What can you do as a practitioner to ensure that you know as much as you can about your audiences? How did Weixin achieve this goal?
According to a blog post on HubSpot, some things a practitioner can do to ensure they know their audience is by reviewing any current data and analytics, looking at previous successes among their audience (i.e. past successful campaigns), create buyer personas, conduct surveys, keep an eye on competitors, monitor audience feedback and engagement (i.e. comments, shares, etc.), and experiment with content and updates about their products and services.
Weixin accomplished this through successful campaigns such as “Qiang Hongbao,” and knowing from the start that their audience wants a one-and-done type of app that is efficient and includes all the bells and whistles. This way they don’t have to venture outside the app for anything.
How do Weixin’s features fit into their audience’s needs, tastes, and interests? Is it possible for audiences with different backgrounds to individualize the social media for their individual lives?
Weixin played into the interests and needs of their audience by including features and campaigns that celebrated cultural norms and even offered convenience for rides in robust cities where it can often be difficult to get around in a crowd (i.e. Red Envelope campaign and taxi cab feature). When a social media platform incorporates what is important to consumers (in this case, Chinese New Year and the practice of sending monetary gifts via red envelopes) with a need (a convenient and quick way to celebrate and send/receive red envelopes), the social media network increases its chance of success.
Given the fact that Weixin is essentially an all-in-one app that includes messages, sharing, staying up-to-date on the news, and so on, the app can definitely be individualized by the user. If we were to look at Weixin’s cousin, WhatsApp, which is a success in the US with over 2.2 billion users, it wouldn’t be so hard of a stretch for Weixin to compete.
Heather, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog post. I read through the stats on social media in China that you linked, and I think it’s amazing, yet also crazy, that they are projecting over 1.21 billion users by 2017. I love how Weixin launched their Red Envelope campaign. It really helped them increase their brand visibility by playing into the interests and needs of their target audience. When doing my own research into this, I did not find the blog on HubSpot that you shared in your blog, so I am very glad I came across yours. Their writing on things that practitioners can do to ensure they know their audience was a great read.