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China 2016: THOUGHT LEADERSHIP |SOCIAL MEDIA

LEVERAGING WORD OF MOUTH THROUGH WECHAT
CONTENT ANALYSIS REVEALS HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE ON WECHAT
Sam Flemming
Founder & CEO
Kantar Media CIC
Sam@cicdata.com
Monica Zhao
Head of Research Innovation
Kantar Media CIC
Monica.Zhao@cicdata.com
Theresa Loo
Chief Knowledge Officer
Ogilvy & Mather China
Theresa.Loo@ogilvy.com
 

Chinese consumers’ trust in brand advertising is low. They would rather hear from friends and personalities whom they can trust than listen to brand communication. Hence, influencers and content that lead to positive Word Of Mouth (WOM) carry real weight in brand selection.


In the advent of today’s online social communities, much of this discussion is happening through WeChat.

Yet WeChat is restrictive in terms of what key metrics data it enables marketers to get their hands on. The latter can only track competitive activities through publicly available information, but not data within a “friends circle”. Marketers are working in isolation and attempts at monitoring are often inward looking. With few dimensions and benchmarks to evaluate this social media platform, there are information gaps in how to create relevant content and engage with consumers effectively.

Deploying content analysis at an industry level can be informative and useful. Kantar Media CIC and Ogilvy carried out systematic research to look at how WeChat is used across nine industries. Following are some of our research findings and tips on how WeChat can be deployed more effectively:

INCREASE SHARE OF CONSUMER ENGAGEMENT BY ACTIVATING MULTIPLE WECHAT FUNCTIONS

WeChat is not just a free messaging platform. It has evolved to provide a holistic consumer experience and can be deployed to fulfill a wide range of marketing and communication objectives. Yet, our audit finds that marketers have di erent functional bias in terms of how they use their WeChat accounts. The top three functions marketers use WeChat for are to (1) promote products, (2) provide customer service and (3) create awareness, followed by a long tail of other functions.

Of the nine industries, FMCG demonstrates the widest use of WeChat, extending the use to six di erent functions, such as branding and industry news sharing. Beauty and automobiles are the runners-up, utilizing five and four WeChat functions respectively. The strengths of WeChat in conducting customer engagement and CRM are, surprisingly, under-utilized. Marketers should increase share of customer engagement by expanding the number of marketing and communication functions used on WeChat.

USE KOLS WITH AGILITY

Chinese consumers are more actively following Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and celebrities compared with following brands on social media. A cross- industry review of beauty, fashion and infant nutrition shows that KOL accounts achieve better reach performance than brand accounts in these industries. Brands should use KOLs to help enrich content by leveraging their personalities to bring in entertaining content.

Brands should also not limit the use of KOLs to those within the same industry. Chances are, the competition is using the same KOLs and the latter are over-exposed. FMCGs are good at using cross- industry KOLs from the fashion or art industry to bring a fresh look to their communications. Using KOLs from other non-related categories can bring in new perspectives and also help brands extend their target audience pool to different groups.

In the infant nutrition industry, there are only 12 significant KOLs, who are mainly nutritionists and pediatricians by background. 12 is way too small a number for such a huge industry. There is much room for brands to groom their own KOLs. A follow- up ranking exercise and a content analysis of the KOL accounts can then guide marketers to choose up- and-coming KOLs that are relevant for their brands. 

GENERATE ORIGINAL AND CREATIVE CONTENT

There is a lack of originality in WeChat content. Brands have to become publishers on WeChat and create better content to remain relevant to their audience. The content duplication rate for the beauty and infant nutrition industries are 42 percent and 40 percent respectively. There are lots of ways to be clever with content. Deploy pictures of scenic spots to trigger either curiosity or memory; use horoscopes to appeal to consumers’ self-identities; bring in news about cultural di erences; turn mundane topics into games and quizzes; utilize trendy net-slang to become “adorkable” (adorable in a dorky way).

EXTEND BRAND PERSONALITY

Some brands take on the tone and manner of the industry instead of letting their brand personalities come through in WeChat. Take the infant nutrition industry for example, food for baby is a sensitive topic given a past history of melamine contamination. As a result, the brands all present themselves on WeChat as being very professional – but the flipside of professionalism can be dry and serious. However, if we look at advertisements of infant nutrition brands, they are caring, emotional and blissful. These brand personalities should surface in their WeChat accounts to win over the hearts of consumers.

APPLY RICH DISPLAY FORMATS

While it is common sense that a picture is better than a thousand words, this principle is not well practiced in WeChat. In regards to infant nutrition on WeChat, 19 percent of content is text only, 75 percent has one visual format and only 6 percent has more than two visual formats. Yet, moving up from one to three visual formats can garner 50 percent more reach and 246 percent more “likes”. And do not forget the increasing importance of video clips. With the fast development of social video such as Meipai and Weishi, consumers are embedding videos into their WeChat messages. They are going to expect the same from brands.