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A Complete Guide To WeChat Influencer Marketing

To enter the Chinese market, having a WeChat Official Account to represent your brand is highly advisable. However, it takes an additional cost for setting it up, and also time to build a substantial audience size. Also, if you prefer testing the water before investing in WeChat, influencer marketing is the way to grow interest in your brand.

Even if you already have your own WeChat Official Account, it is still a worthwhile investment to expand your audience base.

Becky Li (黎贝卡的异想世界) is one of the most well-known Fashion/Lifestyle Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) with at least 1.5m followers on WeChat. She recently collaborated with Secoo, a Chinese luxury e-commerce platform. Secoo held an event that recreated a few rooms of Becky’s home and integrated a wide selection of products from more than 100 brands.

Moreover, after 15 days, the event generated USD 2.9m sales! Adding WeChat influencers in your marketing strategy surely enhances the effectiveness of your campaign.

a-complete-guide-to-wechat-influencer-marketing-becky-li-secoo

Becky Li x Secoo. (Image source: Secoo’s Weibo)


Characteristics of WeChat Influencer Marketing

Closer relationship between influencers and fans

There are various ways of collaborating with influencers—offering them to try a product before its official launch or inviting them to an exclusive experience of your service. But this is not the case in China. More likely than not, Chinese influencers are managed by agencies and cash incentives are taken for granted.

However, it is well-deserved as influencers in China put in a lot of effort to stay connected with their followers. Apart from replying to comments and questions, some even host regular fan meetings and give out birthday presents to loyal fans. As a return, fans can also express appreciation by tipping the creators. WeChat’s tipping function thus provides motivation to influencers to create high-quality content for their followers.

Various formats of content in a post

Western social media platforms such as Instagram put emphasis on visual content, i.e. photos and stories. Meanwhile, WeChat influencers focus on long articles that offer readers informative and entertaining content combined with appealing images, videos, GIFs and audio clips.

As for stories, although WeChat’s Time Capsule has similar features to Instagram stories, it’s not yet applicable to Official Accounts. WeChat influencers instead add videos in their articles for more engaging content.

Also, we foresee that live streaming will become a common format for WeChat influencer marketing after the recent integration between Tencent Live and WeChat.

a-complete-guide-to-wechat-influencer-marketing-live-streaming

WeChat live streaming. (Image source: @tencentlive_helper)

Flexible ways to help boost sales

Influencers have multiple ways to promote a product in the WeChat ecosystem. In the articles, they can either embed a Mini-program Mall, implement an H5 page, or simply add external links to Taobao. Also, brands can easily measure how much the KOLs are contributing to reach the sales target.

For Instagram on the other hand, influencers and brands usually rely on the native functions of the app i.e. Shoppable tags, Checkout function and Swipe Up.


How to Implement a Good Influencer Marketing Campaign on WeChat?

Select the right KOL for your brand

Audience size, engagement, location… Firstly, these metrics critical in choosing a suitable KOL are not disclosed to the public by WeChat. Therefore, you can utilize 3rd party platforms like Wexiaobao and Parklu – a database that allows you to filter influencers by various categories.

Without using 3rd party platforms, hard numbers such as article views is a handy indicator to determine the performance of WeChat influencers. Furthermore, KOLs that create articles with multimedia elements (i.e. GIFs, photos, videos) are preferred over those who don’t. This is due to a positive correlation between the multimedia presence and audience engagement. 

Lastly, it is highly advisable to do your due diligence. Chinese KOLs can drive sales quickly because they take responsibility for product quality. If your brand works with KOLs who had scandals or had already promoted low-quality products, it may affect your brand’s social media reputation. This can be seen when Chinese celebrity Fan Bingbing was arrested due to tax evasion and the brands she endorsed received negative sentiment afterwards.

Give KOLs maximum flexibility in content creation

WeChat influencers have full access to their Official Account’s data. Besides, they can easily analyze what topics and formats are best received by their followers. For this reason, we give as much flexibility as possible to KOLs to create what they think is the most interesting content for their readers.


Check if your influencer has properly optimized articles for SEO

WeChat has integrated Sougou—one of the mainstream search engines in China—in the app. If KOLs have optimized the articles correctly, they will rank on top of the search result not only in WeChat but also in Sougou. As such, paying attention to WeChat SEO maximizes the reach of your brand and products.

 Also, here are some important elements for article optimization:

1. Credibility

Remember to select KOLs with a verified Official Account, since it represents credibility and hence gives articles a higher ranking. Official Accounts that are registered for a longer time and have a high amount of article views, fans, and engagements also contribute to the credit score.

2. Virality

Virality also helps to push the articles to the forefront of readers eyes. The amount of engagement determines how “viral” a piece of content is. So, articles that received 100K+ of impressions, high clicks and reactions have a larger chance to be ranked atop search results.   

3. Keyword Distribution

WeChat’s search engine is similar to how Google works. Keywords should appear on the title, synopsis, and evenly distributed throughout the whole article.


Consider a sustainable influencer activation

To maximize the impact of your campaign, try to establish a long term collaboration with influencers. It helps to build a sustainable awareness towards your brand and products before the actual conversion. So, you can make a deeper impression on your target audience with consistent storytelling via influencers.

Additionally, a continuous partnership enables your brand to collect and analyze feedback/sentiment about your products from the KOL’s followers.


What is the Cost of Implementing WeChat Influencer Marketing?

Cost per engagement vs Cost per article view

One of the main differences between WeChat and Western social media platforms is the importance of engagement. Marketers normally calculate the engagement rate and its cost to evaluate the successfulness of an influencer campaign.

However, this cost is hard to estimate for WeChat marketing as the figure varies from KOL to KOL and from different industries. Instead, Chinese marketers value the number of article views in the WeChat ecosystem much more. Thus, you should pay attention to the cost per article view i.e. around RMB 1/view when evaluating the effectiveness of the campaign.


Cost per post

Western marketers also need to have different expectations when it comes to estimating the cost per post of each influencer. There are 3 questions you need to ask yourself before knowing your cost:

1. What is the main objective of your campaign?

  • Raise brand awareness
  • Acquire followers
  • Boost sales

2. Where is your target audience located in China?

  • 1st tier cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu…
  • 2nd tier cities: Xiamen, Zhuhai, Harbin, Wenzhou…
  • 3rd tier cities: Jilin, Zhenjiang, Guilin, Luoyang…

3. What is your total budget for this campaign?

By answering these questions, you can then identify whether you are looking for Celebrities, Top-tier or Micro-influencers for the campaign. After deciding the type of KOL needed, you can utilize tools to calculate the estimated cost per post.

So, here’s a business example based on Fashion and Lifestyle influencers’ audience size. However, be reminded that the timing of officially launching the campaign is also important since the price of KOLs increases rapidly.

KOL #1 with 700K followers on WeChat

  • Cost for the 1st post on Official Account: RMB 68,000
  • Cost for the 2nd post on Official Account: RMB 48, 000
  • Cost per event attendance: minimum RMB 5,000 (excluding transportation and accommodation fee)

KOL #2 with 500K followers on WeChat

  • Cost for the 1st post on Official Account: RMB 35,000
  • Cost for the 2nd post on Official Account: RMB 26,000
  • Cost per event attendance: minimum 2,000 (excluding transportation and accommodation fee)

KOL #3 with 350K followers on WeChat

  • Cost for the 1st post on Official Account: RMB 30,000
  • Cost for the 2nd post on Official Account: RMB 20,000
  • Cost per event attendance: minimum 2,000 (excluding transportation and accommodation fee)

Keep up with the latest marketing trends and contact us for more information!

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