Interviewing entrepreneurs in China: Wechat, Douyin, Weibo, how to best leverage social media in China?

China Paradigm interviewed Jenny Chen, co-founder, and COO of WalkTheChat to understand better the social media landscape in China and to figure out how to leverage social media in China and the real differences between a content strategy on Wechat, Weibo, Pinduoduo, Douyin…

Jenny Chen, experienced entrepreneur in China, recognized writer and Wechat marketing specialist

Graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Jenny (Tingyi) Chen had been working at John Deere Financial for three years as an accountant before embarking on entrepreneurship in China.

Jenny Chen is an experienced entrepreneur, having started two businesses before working at WalkTheChat: a tea subscription company named Tea Walks, and a private dining company, which invited people to chef’s home to eat.

In 2015, Jenny joined Thomas Graziani as a co-founder at WalkTheChat.

Leverage social media in China
[Jenny Chen at a conference about China’s social media landscape]

Jenny Chen is also the author of one of the most respected blogs of the digital ecosystem in China.

WalkTheChat, selling in China via WeChat is becoming easier

WalktheChat is a WeChat marketing agency and software platform which helps foreign SMEs to sell in China via WeChat. They began as a digital agency and switched then to a Saas model: if you want to learn more about this switch listen to Thomas Graziani’s interview here.

Today WalkTheChat also developed a CRM platform internally and used it for some of their larger clients:

« We realized that e-commerce is something you need to get started, it’s step one to enter the Chinese market in terms of sales. »

« And then CRM is something that once you have enough following for the profiles, you can start use the CRM to do retargeting’’.

WalkTheChat is also known for its content strategy in China. Because they are a B2B agency, they have listened to their clients’ need to learn more about the social media landscape in China. That is why they run the first official account to talk only about Wechat marketing.

Marketing strategy on social media in China
[WallkTheChat, content strategy on Wechat]

Content strategy on Wechat: How to master Chinese codes 

Jenny Chen gives us all her advice for a strong content strategy on Wechat:

First of all, pay attention to the title.The title is  the first thing consumers will read, so do something short that fits the format of the phone. Then think about the cover picture. The cover picture is something that can trigger people to click and that you have to optimize to maximize the clicks through rate. You need to customize your cover picture so that no matter what kind of phone and what kind of format you see, and everybody will be able to view it.

Within the article, keep the sentences short, and of course, the content must be of high quality. To keep people’s attention on Wechat, Jenny Chen advises to summarize the article in a few key points at the beginning of the article and to add photos that will make reading easier (photographs, tables, diagrams).

Finally, adding a call to action is essential. It must be adapted to the content you post.

‘’Is it click into your WeChat mini-program shop? Is it follow your official account? Is it share on your moment and to join a lucky draw? So you want to have a very, very clear user pass so that people can do exactly what you want them to do to maximize their conversion rates.’’

Working with different social media in China, tips and advise

According to Jenny Chen, the choice of the e-commerce platform in China depends mainly on three things:

  • The product and category

Knowing where your consumers are, what they like and whether they use multiple channels is very important.Indeed, If you’re working in the fashion and cosmetics industries or lifestyle like fast-moving consumer goods, then usually you will choose Wechat because this is where people spend most of their time using their phone.

  • The budget

WalkTheChat recommends Weibo as a second platform to leverage:

‘‘Just because Weibo is a lot cheaper in terms of user acquisition and it has a lot of follower for KOLs, and I’d say it’s also cheaper with the content and it’s very good with the engagements.’’

Thus, the perfect match for foreign business in China can be to use both Weibo and Wechat: Weibo more as a user acquisition channel and WeChat as a traffic generation because conversion rate on WeChat is a lot higher.

  • The brand

Of course, choosing the right social media in China depends significantly on the brand’s values and notoriety: If the brand enjoys strong recognition among Chinese consumers, then Pinduoduo and Douyin can be excellent boosters of success:

« Pinduoduo is a platform very social-based e-commerce, and they’re[u1] very selective in terms of what kind of products and brands they want to put on their platform because they have a huge user base. It’s tough to get on to it, especially for newer foreign overseas brands, but once you are on it, the traffic is quite high. »

Marketing strategy on Douyin: How to be effective

Douyin is a short video platform that is very popular among first and second-tier cities in China and among the younger generation. Douyin is an excellent platform to leverage new UGCs, user-generated content.

« If your brand is well-recognized among the Chinese consumer, if you already have the brand recognition then Douyin is a perfect platform to encourage people to create their own content related with the brand. »

According to Jenny Chen, the best products to promote on Douyin are films or music because then the Influencer marketing become strategic. These key opinion leaders (KOL) are already followed by thousands of consumers and can share the content they create. However, every entrepreneur in China must understand that Douyin is purely for brand awareness and brand building because you can’t put any e-commerce conversion link.


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