Developing a content strategy for an enterprise WeChat Official Account
This article will use theories of content marketing strategy and guide you through picking a right approach for your OA.
Whether you’re building a brand or running a business in China, a WeChat official account (shortened as OA) is the go-to tool for business owners. Its ease of use, speed and enormous user base make it a no-brainer for anyone wanting to appeal to the hugely valuable Chinese market. Furthermore, a lack of presence on WeChat may put brands at a disadvantage, casting doubts on their authenticity.
This article will use some of the theories of content marketing strategy and guide you through picking a right approach for your OA.
Pick your battles
It’s necessary to position your OA and give it purpose. Without it, you’ll lose all sense of direction - and can even make it harder for customers to navigate your OA.
You might have seen some cases where an OA serves as a customer service hub, an e-commerce platform or both at the same time. This is happening more and more frequently. The OA is actually becoming much more than just a communication channel in China’s fierce digital market.
Your positioning strategy is closely tied up to your product and industry. Depending on the type of product/service, an OA can be used as a strong e-commerce arm, an extension of a brand or a window to display brand offerings (with the keyword being display, not sales).
Common OA Attributes
E-commerce arm: sales-focused, working as a channel to sell products
Extension of a brand: brand-focused, where the content represents or helps to craft the brand and build a brand-follower community
Window to display product/service: mostly for businesses whose goal is to provide their audience an information center and guide potential customers to the next stage of the purchase funnel.
We’ve only listed the most common 3 types, but your own attribute may fall outside of these based on your individual business goals and project objectives.
For brands, the attribute of an OA can be a mix rather than a single focus. For instance, a small company that sells high-end artisanal candles might use their OA as one of two main platforms to sell and convey their brand image. They have a service OA which allows them to push 4 posts a month. Their content focuses either on product (detailed product introduction, well-narrated product inspiration, storytelling from KOLs/customers) or brand-building (company values, team news).
On the contrary, a well-known luxury watch brand, might choose their OA to cover all 3 attributes, linking to their e-commerce Mini-Program for sales; pushing weekly content to promote their product; and communicating about its brand value with their audience.
Once you have a clear idea of the positioning of your OA, keep in mind that it should only be one part of your marketing efforts. It’s better to develop a holistic strategy for all your channels and not simply leverage all the possibilities of an OA.
Get to know your audience
6 years after the birth of WeChat public platform, there are more than 20 million Official Accounts in the market. There’s too much to read, and our attention spans are getting smaller. With that being said, your OA is competing with every single other OA, no matter whether it’s a direct competitor such as a consumer retail brand, or an indirect competitor like a KOL’s personal OA.
Who are your audience? If you already have buyer personas, do you still need to define your target audience? Yes, they can be somewhat similar, but they are two different things.
Buyer personas are a semi-fictional, research-based profile that describes your target buyer. Your target audience is a group of people with specific reader attributes. Your content needs to cater to this group, not only for specific profiles.
Define your target audience
Step 1: Understand their demographic (Gender, Education, Location, Age, Income)
Step 2: Get to know what your readers are thinking
Why do they want to learn about (your niche)?
How important is (your niche) to them, i.e. is it a hobby or part of their job?
What common questions do they have about (your niche)?
How knowledgeable are they about (your niche)?
Step 3: Get to know your readers’ reading habits.
What format do they prefer (e.g. text, image, video)?
How often do they read?
What length of content do they prefer?
Go over these 3 steps and get a clear view of your target audience. Once you have this worked out, print it out and stick it somewhere you can see when you are writing to keep it top-of-mind.
Build content for your target audience
Content is the core reason why your readers stick around. WeChat OAs are subscription based, meaning that even though they are your followers, they don’t always read your content. The good thing is that if you have a consistent flow of good quality content, they will read your content once in a while and continue following you.
When brainstorming how to come up with decent content for your audience, check if your content provide these values below:
Practical value: your content provide useful tips or practical advice for readers
Emotional value: your content resonates with readers and touches them emotionally
Social value: your content provides something readers will share with their social circles
Create titles to draw in potential readers(who don’t exactly fall into your target audience group, but you need their attention), and keep content body for your target audience always because that’s the key to keep them
Should you chase buzzwords? If you cannot act fast (i.e. publish while it’s still fresh), don’t even consider doing it. In most cases, a buzzword-chasing post turns out to be mediocre content. However, if you are able to make your content relevant to the buzzword, such as Corona’s recent post on Shanghai’s Trash regulation, don’t let the opportunity slip away
Design: pick a style
Make sure the visual style and the tone match your brand. For example, if you are a luxury brand, you probably want to sound classic and elegant instead of casual and random
Be consistent with the style and build your momentum, it will take time before your audience recognizes your style, so make sure to give it some time before switching it up
Format: pick your battle, visual or text
Focus your OA on only one type of content first. If you choose text and image (the most common type of format), practice until you become very confident with it
Be flexible with other content types when the context fits. For example, throw in a single voice message or image once a while to pique their interest
Engagement: make it interaction-oriented
If you have a Mini-Program, make sure to promote it in your OA menu, articles and template messages
Link related articles to read at the bottom
Always include a QR code at the bottom
Use the comment function to get closer to your followers. Many OA operators chat with their followers in the comment section, it’s a great way to keep your followers interested
Post Quantity and Frequency
One post is obviously good in terms of focus. If you have a major campaign, push just a single post to send a strong message and give it the space it needs to shine
Do not feel that you need to use up all the post opportunities (i.e. publishing 4 posts with every push). Only push multiple posts when it is really necessary - ‘less is more’ truly applies here
Whether you prefer a weekly post or bi-weekly post schedule, be consistent with content releases. Check your reader’s hourly activity stats to find out when they are most actively reading your content, so you can find out your ideal publishing timeline