5 WeChat Marketing Trends for 2022: Boost Your Brand in China
5 WeChat Marketing Trends for 2022 – APAC in 3 – Episode 12
With 1.25 billion active users, WeChat is arguably the world’s largest super-app. And with its many services including instant messaging, social feed, payment processing and more, it also uniquely give brands near-limitless marketing opportunities across its ecosystem.
However, these opportunities—whether on WeChat Channels, Mini Programs, or Enterprise WeChat—are constantly in flux, so grasping them means anticipating novel consumer habits and demands that bear the highest engagement potential.
Check out APAC in 3 (EP 12) for 5 marketing trends set to supercharge brands on WeChat in 2022.
And for a deeper dive into the trends, read the full article below.
But before we delve in, let’s look back at some key facts and figures from Tencent’s annual conference meeting (i.e., WeChat Open Class Pro) in January 2022 that revealed the extent of WeChat’s growth in 2021:
- WeChat Channels, the short video platform that debuted just two years ago, saw many videos exceeding one million likes in 2021 and is quickly evolving into a hub for news and entertainment content.
- Daily active users (DAU) on Mini Programs reached 450 million, while the number of active Mini Programs increased considerably by 41% year-on-year.
- WeChat Search has reached 700 million monthly active users (MAU). Users can initiate a search from many entry points in the super-app, and whose searches have translated into traffic for, and higher engagement of, other WeChat products.
- WeChat Pay connects tens of millions of merchants and contributed to a total transaction volume of RMB ¥520 billion in 2021.
- Enterprise WeChat averaged 140 million service interactions per hour.
WeChat Marketing Trend #1: Greater Traffic and Income Potential for Original Video Creators
As its battle for short video viewers in China heats up against the likes of Douyin (i.e., TikTok) and Kuaishou, WeChat Channels—which now taps into advertising and livestreaming revenue streams—opens the door to new opportunities for Tencent.
WeChat Channels used live broadcasting of notable local events in 2021—like the launch of the Shenzhou 12 spacecraft or the return of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou to China—to draw online audiences in the millions to the then relatively new video platform. Similarly, in late 2021, the famous Irish boy band Westlife appeared on WeChat Channels in a virtual concert that attracted 27+ million Chinese viewers.
In 2022, we predict WeChat to place heavy emphasis on attracting more creators to WeChat Channels, and on cultivating an environment where original video content—particularly around lifestyle, entertainment, and informational topics—will thrive. The platform also recently announced its Creator Incentive Program to support over 10 million original content creators.
What’s more, by integrating with WeChat Pay, Enterprise WeChat, and other products in WeChat’s ecosystem, Channels will offer creators more tools and scope to build and operate their own communities.
WeChat Marketing Trend #2: WeChat’s Ad Revenue Growth Will Revolve Around WeChat Channels
In early 2021, a paid promotion function was enabled for all WeChat Channel accounts through the applet: Video account promotion. By August 2021, WeChat incorporated more ad formats and audience targeting options while simplifying the process for advertisers.
Around the same time, WeChat Channels leveraged the online shopping frenzies of the Double 11 and Double 12 festivals in late 2021 by streaming live broadcasts for each of their biggest promotion deals.
In fact, the top 30 e-commerce-related WeChat video accounts accumulated a total of 320 million live views that helped contribute to a gross merchandise value (GMV) of RMB ¥157 million in November 2021 alone. Based on this trend, it might not be long before WeChat Channels surpasses one billion e-commerce broadcasters on its platform per month.
Looking forward, you can expect WeChat to introduce even more advertising formats and engagement tools to attract B2C brands of all sizes to grow their e-commerce business on WeChat Channels which could, in turn, grow WeChat’s ad revenue stream from video content.
WeChat Marketing Trend #3: Higher Brand Visibility on WeChat Search
WeChat Search—WeChat’s in-app search function—connects users to the many distinct products within the WeChat ecosystem, from Official Account content, Moments posts, Mini Programs, to WeChat Channel videos, and more.
WeChat positions Search as the portal for its 700+ million MAU to discover high-quality content and services available on WeChat. For example, over 100 million medical appointments have been made with 5,100+ public hospitals on WeChat Search to date.
WeChat Search will continue to optimize its evaluation of content and the quality, usability, and availability of its services. And among the critical areas for optimization will be the Brand Zone on WeChat Search’s result page, which provides users with a consolidated view of a brand and its products or service.
We can also expect WeChat to expose Search in more areas around the app, thus enabling users to conduct searches “at their fingertips” and search for virtually anything on WeChat.
WeChat Marketing Trend #4: Paid Group Chats
In the past, WeChat users and marketers alike have given most of their attention to Official Accounts content, while neglecting the value of user communities hidden within each content creator account. Consequently, many creators have suffered from a lack of traffic and struggled to commercialize their high-quality content and reap the rewards of their efforts.
But in the Internet era, content is king, and as “pan-knowledge” content—that which improves personal knowledge and skills, and helps everyone in their lives—grows ever more popular, payment in return for knowledge is no longer limited to traditional education scenarios and can be supported by the rise of the fan economy.
WeChat—as a platform for communities—may well play a critical role in this shift. Case in point? QQ—also a Tencent-owned instant messaging app—had paid group memberships for gated group chats and membership perks (e.g., exclusive content, rewards, discounts). In much the same way, paid groups chats could be an emerging trend with properties like Enterprise WeChat.
WeChat Marketing Trend #5: Enterprise WeChat will play a critical role for brands
Enterprise WeChat is much more than a business chat app. Besides increasing work productivity as an internal collaboration tool, it helps businesses connect with customers and vendors through their WeChat accounts and has features like customer groups and customer moments.
How does this help brands? It lets you promptly respond to customer inquiries which, in turn, sheds light on customer demand and their satisfaction towards your product or service.
Today, more and more companies are leveraging Enterprise WeChat: In fact, 1.2 million business employees use Enterprise WeChat to serve their customers on WeChat, culminating in 140 million service interactions every hour.
The latest version of Enterprise WeChat introduces integration with WeChat Channels, among other features.
We expect Enterprise WeChat to continue strengthening its interoperability with WeChat’s ecosystem and provide businesses with more functions to achieve customer success.
WeChat’s ecosystem has become a breeding ground for content creation and engagement—one that will continue to develop over time as more brands and users embrace it. From a brand perspective, only by experimenting and evaluating different approaches on WeChat will you know how to best leverage the platform for your marketing goals.