If you’re familiar with the social media scene in China, you’ve probably heard of WeChat and Douyin. Both platforms are hugely popular in China, with a combined total of over 1.8 billion monthly active users. WeChat is a messaging app that also offers a variety of features, while Douyin is a short-video sharing platform. There’s no doubt that both platforms are incredibly popular. The question we ask in this post, is can WeChat Channels really compete with Douyin? Let’s take a look.

WeChat Overview: the most popular super-app in China

WeChat (chin. 微 信 Weixin) is a social media app that was created in China in 2011. It is a blend of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Users can chat with friends, share photos and videos, and follow celebrities and brands. WeChat has over one billion active users, making it the most popular social media app in the world. It is available in eight different languages. Brands are increasingly using WeChat ecosystem to reach consumers in China and around the world.

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WeChat is the best example of a Chinese phenomenon of super-apps which are mobile applications that are small ecosystems themselves. Those are apps that are so broad in functions and features, they offer users the opportunity to do everything they need to do on their mobile phones without leaving the app.

WeChat has many features, including; text and voice messages, video calls, video creation tools, WeChat Moments (something similar to Facebook pages), WeChat Payment method, WeChat mini-programs with Wechat Store function, WeChat Wallet with many functions inside, like ordering food, taxis, buying tickets for events and so on.

Douyin – the king of short-videos in China

Douyin (chin. 抖音) is a Chinese social media platform for short video content. It was first released in September 2016 and now has over 600 million active users. The app is owned by ByteDance, which also owns the popular Chinese news aggregator Toutiao.

Douyin lets users create and share short video high quality content with filters, music, and animated text. Users can also follow other users or other accounts and see their videos in a dedicated feed. Douyin is known for its user-generated content. Videos on the app are usually shot vertically with quick editing and filters for added effects. Most videos are comedic or lighthearted in nature, and many create content focused on everyday life and trends in China.

Douyin is the most popular short-videos platform in the world, with 608 million monthly active users. What is important is that this is the platform where you can target young generations, as half of the Douyin population is under 30 years old. The platforms audience comes from rich 1st and 2nd tier cities in China, which makes it a great e-commerce platform for luxury goods. Its direct competitor is Kuaishou, a very similar brand targeting audience in smaller cities of China.

Let’s take a look at WeChat Channels function and examine if it’s a tool that can overtake the most popular short-video platform in China.

WeChat Channels: WeChat’s way to have a say in short-videos industry

Chinas’ most used messaging app WeChat, managed by Tencent Holdings Ltd., released its newest feature called “WeChat Channels” in early 2020. We are talking about the nightmare of short video apps such as Douyin (Chinese TIKTOK) and Kuaishou. WeChat launched Channels feature to compete in the short video sharing market.

WeChat can be used for everything from messaging to booking meals and movie tickets. Adding WeChat Channels feature threatens the leading position of Byte Dance Inc. (Douyin) which serves 600 million daily active users in China, as well as Kuaishou video app with 300 million daily users.

How does WeChat Channel work

WeChat Channels account allows content creators to share short video content for up to 60 seconds or share up to 9 images (with character limitations) on their WeChat video channel (so-called WeChat Channel). The videos include a description that can include articles from the WeChat Official Account and can give you an easier interaction with WeChat users by being able to insert comments on and like videos, as well as like someone else’s comments on your WeChat account. WeChat Channels function also shows you how many of your WeChat friends and WeChat Channel users have liked it.

Allen Zhang (Zhang Xiaolong, Senior Executive Vice President and President of Weixin Group) argues that WeChat Channels, in combination with several other function, would help WeChat to maintain its dominance in the Chinese market and would help to increase the use of the app and attract users.

“La Perla” WeChat Channels feed

WeChat Channels section looks very similar to the one in Douyin; you can discover content posted in a form of horizontal videos with some background music from friends (which is the default tab). In the main menu of WeChat Channels feed there are also two other options to select from; “Following” search function, that displays high quality content from WeChat Official Accounts you follow and “Hot” showing WeChat video feed with the most trending video content at the moment.

WeChat users can also search for content under location or hashtag specific content that they want to view. Therefore, they have a possibility to discover other public accounts apart from those they already follow.

WeChat Video Platforms’ integration with other WeChat functions

WeChat Channels is a great marketing tool for both personal account and WeChat official account holders, as it is another feature that can help you increase traffic on the entire WeChat ecosystem. Because it’s within WeChat app, it’s integrated with all the other functions that you’re either already using or should start using to boost your brand’s awareness. Let’s take a look at some of them;

WeChat Channels can help you reach new customers

Brand’s Official WeChat Channel, if done correct, can help you reach new followers and then redirect them to your Official WeChat Account, WeChat mini shop or other Web platform. WeChat is considered a bit closed app in comparison to Weibo or RED, where you can reach your followers base and build trust and brand awareness rather than reach new audience. But WeChat Channels are an exception, because they can help you get new followers, that will find you while scrolling through “Hot” tab on their WeChat Channels dashboard.

Redirecting traffic to your Official WeChat Account

If you go through corporate verification process and have a verified WeChat Channel account, you will be able to link it with Brand’s Official Account. With verified account, you can put any article link or QR code to your WeChat Official Account, inviting WeChat video viewers to follow your Brand’s Official Account. Furthermore, you can post content in WeChat Channels and embed it in WeChat public account articles.

Increasing sales through video feed

WeChat Channels is great in increasing conversion, as people can see your products through videos, which can better present the items than just single photos. You can also work with KOLs and KOCs, which are Chinese influencers, to show your products and introduce your brand to followers of their personal account’s WeChat Channel pages through live broadcast promotion or live streaming (there is a live streaming function build in WeChat Channel panel). They can later redirect traffic to your WeChat Channels accounts or WeChat Official Account.

WeChat Channels work as a bridge to your WeChat Store

As you can put links to articles on your official account, you can do the same when it comes to WeChat Stores in mini-programs section of WeChat. This function is useful especially when it comes to live streaming, as you can put direct links to the product pages of items you’re broadcasting, which can help in generating direct sales within the platform.

Sharing content in chats

Apart from all the functions mentioned above, WeChat users can also share content with their WeChat friends on WeChat personal account Moments, on their own WeChat Channel, send it to their friends through individual message or in group chats. So as you can see, WeChat Channels are an opportunity for brands to get a wider reach of their posts.

Will WeChat Channel succeed in the short video sharing market?

As Tencent realised they were losing ground to Douyin and Kuaishou, they started making it easy to upload and edit content on WeChat Channels, making it more convenient and user-friendly.

“While Tencent’s strategy to retain users and WeChat Channel content makes sense, the company needs to tread carefully, because unrestricted short-video publishing may lead to content that is trashy and low-brow, and often also repetitive and non-differentiated”, said a Bloomberg Analyst.

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WeChat Channels feature will try to win back younger users addicted to Douyin and Kuaishou, while also seek to unlock new ways for clients to place ads and monetise their traffic. WeChat’s social ad business is expected to grow 30% this year, citing diverse offerings for WeChat instant messaging App.

We must remember how in 2018 WeChat introduced a Snapchat-like video feature to its semi-public moment’s feed, which barely gained traction.

How to use WeChat Channels Account for your Companys’ benefit?

WeChat is an incredible place for you to share interesting content about your brand and your products. Use WeChat Channels new feature to boost your brands’ awareness in the Chinese market. Having a WeChat Official Account and uploading short videos or images can give you great awareness using the effort that WeChat is using to boost this new Feature. With WeChat Channel posts, you can continue to grow your customer loyalty or bring traffic to your customer service by doing short videos of your service or provided products.

Our Agency is specialised in the promotion of the WeChat Channel on Social media, Forums, WeChat Groups, or among users. We also communicate among other WeChat Channels to help your WeChat Channels feed to get exposure.

How can I sell my products on WeChat?

As we mentioned before, you can integrate your WeChat Video Channel with WeChat Stores in mini-programs. This feature can be described as a kind of “sub-application”. An app inside another (in this case, WeChat). Mini-programs can, therefore, be compared to “mini-apps” built into WeChat itself. As a result, users will no longer have to use or download new apps because they may already be in WeChat!

The mini-programs concern all types of services: sales, e-commerce, and government services.

Contact us to get started on WeChat

In todays’ China it’s impossible to build brand awareness and trust without having a WeChat account of your brand. It’s the go-to app for 1.26 billion Chinese Internet users, which is basically the whole Internet population of China. Therefore, it’s important to prepare a well-tailored marketing strategy for this platform.

But as you might already understand, WeChat, being a super-app, can be tricky and complicated for someone without experience in the field. Therefore, we offer you a group of experienced specialists with Chinese and Western points of view on the work. Over the years we worked with many companies, helping them with marketing strategies on the Chinese market.

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We can help you through corporate verification and set an Official Account, guide you through all WeChat functions, including WeChat Channels and best practices to win the audience there. You can count on us regarding your WeChat mini-store, WeChat Payment system and so on. We can help you set up and use the in-app Wechat CRM. It is a great tool to communicate with your followers/customers and can be used as a replacement for a newsletter. Remember, email marketing does not work in China, people don’t read emails.

If you have any questions regarding own WeChat Channel profile or would like to contact us with any other China-related issue, do not hesitate to leave us a message! We respond within 24-hours.

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