Weibo vs WeChat for Companies in 2015


How will consumers use Weibo and WeChat in 2015?

Despite the narrowing gap between the functions offered on Weibo and WeChat, the two platforms are actually being used by consumers in increasingly different ways, and this is a trend that’s likely to continue in 2015.

Weibo will be used much less for social networking than it has been in the past, and much more for news aggregation and content curation, similar to how Twitter is now being used in the West. Weibo will continue to be the first place Chinese netizens are likely to go when they want to find out recent news on a brand they’re unfamiliar with, and Weibo will also be the place where they’re most likely to be exposed to brands they didn’t previously know about.

WeChat on the other hand has always been a much more intimate platform for personal interaction between friends and – more recently – interaction between consumers and the brands they love. As WeChat users are notified when brands that they follow post news, they’re much more discriminating in whom they decide to follow and much quicker to unfollow brands they don’t find interesting or relevant anymore.

As usage patterns between the two platforms become even more polarised, brands need to respond and post content accordingly.

Should my company be on Weibo or WeChat?

Generally speaking, companies should have presences on both Weibo and WeChat as the two platforms are complementary parts of any marketing strategy.

Weibo turns strangers into leads: As Weibo encourages casual browsing and Weibo accounts are publicly accessible to followers and non-followers alike, Weibo is the natural place for companies to turn strangers into potential customers. This is all the more so thanks to Weibo’s in-built promotional tools (similar to Facebook adspend) which make Weibo the ideal Chinese platform for brand building and raising awareness.

WeChat turns leads into customers: As the brand to customer relationship is much more personal on WeChat, users who are confident enough in a company to follow it on WeChat can be considered as qualified leads who just need a little nurturing before becoming consumers. Aside from posting rich content to nurture this relationship and educate consumers, the option is also there for companies to use WeChat as a CRM, online shop, or after-sales centre.

How should I use Weibo and WeChat?

For many Chinese consumers, their primary exposure to foreign brands – especially companies new to China – will be through brands’ Chinese social media channels. Companies therefore need to be incredibly careful in how they manage their accounts, especially WeChat accounts which tend to have much lower follower retention rates than Weibo. Keep in mind the following key points:

Weibo WeChat
Frequent posts Less frequency, more depth
Brand building Strengthening relationships
Reaching out to new customers Interaction with potential customers
Up-to-date news Only the most important news
Crisis management CRM/mCommerce/after-sales

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