WeChat China

Part
01
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Part
01

B2B and WeChat

China-based chemical companies CNOOC, ChemChina, and Gemhold have WeChat accounts, as does as German-based industrial machine manufacturer Groz-Beckert, which has a presence in China. These companies use WeChat for client communications, marketing, and internal communications/collaboration.

I found a few references to Chinese chemical companies using WeChat, but in general, very few examples were available for this industry. For the few I found, there were only subtle references to how they are using these accounts. Also, success metrics were very limited, and no information was publicly available regarding how they technically implemented their accounts in terms of account type (i.e. subscription, service, enterprise, etc.). I've used some older sources after searches limiting the time frame to two years yielded few results. Using a list of Chinese chemical companies to home in on the most relevant companies, I looked for information regarding their use of WeChat. However, I could only investigate a portion of this list within the scope of a single Wonder request.

CHINA NATIONAL OFFSHORE OIL CORPORATION
The China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has been using WeChat for several years for brand promotion and outreach purposes. In its 2013 annual report, the company notes that they launched WeChat for their mobile phone newspaper, which shares company news with the public. However, no success metrics are offered. In 2014, the CNOOC youth volunteer core, called Blue Power, used a microblog and WeChat account to promote their beach cleaning activities, achieving almost 40,000 followers and 400 messages posted.

The company also makes use of WeChat to promote the corporate culture with its "CNOOC E-Party" WeChat enterprise ID. Also, its corporate WeChat account ranked No. 12 out of 70 companies in WeChat influencer ranking, as well as No. 1 within the oil industry. It also won several awards, including the "2016 Most Influential New Media of Central Enterprise," the "2015-2016 Innovation Award of New Media of China Newspaper," and the "Top 100 WeChat of Energy Enterprises."

CHEMCHINA
China National Chemical Corporation (known as ChemChina), is the largest chemical company in China. A state-owned enterprise, it is a subsidiary of Jiangsu Anpon Electrochemical Co., Ltd. ChemChina works in the chemicals, chemical equipment, oil processing, agrochemicals, and tire & rubber products industry segments. The company uses WeChat for both customer relations and internal communications. In ChemChina's 2013, 2014, and 2015 sustainability reports, they mention that Anpon Electrochemical opened a WeChat account to facilitate customer communications and provide access to company information, such as production data and contact details, "and facilitate the establishment of the Company s (sic) integrity service system." The WeChat account appears to be used within their agrochemicals sector. In 2016, ChemChina established a B2B e-commerce site. Along with the site, Liu Yawen, chief commercial officer (CCO), launched a WeChat online group "to include all CCOs, who are required to report their daily e-commerce business performance." No information is publicly available regarding success metrics or account type.

GROZ-BECKERT
Groz-Beckert, a German-based provider of industrial textile fabrics machine parts and systems, has a presence in China. While not specifically a chemical company, they fall in the industrial sector and use chemical processes in some of their production, so I have included them as an industry-related example. They used digital agency KRDS to launch their WeChat account in 2017. They engaged the company's sales staff to help generate interest in the WeChat account, creating "a WeChat connected APP where every Groz-Beckert staff could log in easily to generate a unique personal QR code." The company used this approach to invite and track clients on their WeChat account. Using this method yielded 5,000 followers in their first 48 hours.

GEMHOLD
China-based Gemhold (SJZ) Trading Co., Ltd. is the last chemical company for which I found any WeChat information. However, the company appears to use their WeChat account primarily for contact purposes, as the only references I found linked to their WeChat account and QR code.

CONCLUSION
In conclusion, CNOOC, ChemChina, Groz-Beckert, and Gemhold, which are all headquartered or operate in China, use WeChat for client communications, brand promotion, and internal purposes. While limited data was available on success indicators, ChemChina's WeChat account has won numerous awards, as well as being ranked among the top WeChat accounts.
Part
02
of three
Part
02

WeChat Content

B2B companies with stakes in the Chinese mainland market often utilize WeChat as a means for marketing and carrying out certain business operations. The application offers multiple account types, each with different benefits and capabilities depending on the needs of different businesses. Companies and other personnel that choose to use WeChat can, for example, create mini mobile websites within the app for their business, converse with current and potential customers, share important documents, and more. Although it was difficult to find case studies specific to the chemical or technical industry, one was found regarding a B2B business in China - hc360 - that functions as a gateway to those industries and others. Additionally, there was no specific information available regarding the use of WeChat in conjunction with an outside digital asset/content management tool. However, WeChat does offer their own version of these tools within the application. Below you will find a breakdown of the best practices that B2B companies follow when using WeChat, as well as the application's version of digital asset management, and a case study on the success of hc360 and their use of WeChat.

WeChat Accounts

The two major accounts that business on WeChat utilize the most are the "Service" account and the "Subscription" account. Below is the breakdown with pros and cons for each account type.

SERVICE ACCOUNT

The "Service" account offers businesses the ability to share information with their followers on a weekly basis. This type of account is especially useful for companies that are targeting other businesses from a specific industry or that want to have a higher chance of their content being viewed. Followers of businesses with service accounts will have the business displayed in their personal contacts through the app, and whenever businesses post content (which they can do 4 times a month with this account), followers receive direct push notifications stating that the company posted something in the app. Although only four content posts can be made a month, this presents the opportunity for posts to be much more focused and specialized, and also gives way to a greater probability of the content being viewed. Businesses with this account can also process payments and connect financial accounts within the app.


SUBSCRIPTION ACCOUNT

Businesses that utilize the "Subscription" account can post on a daily basis to their followers. However, users do not receive push notifications when content is posted; rather, users must manually check for content, which decreases the chances of the information being viewed. This account is more often used by media and fashion businesses, as well as blog accounts.

Sharing Content and Posts

The content that businesses can post through WeChat is grouped under a tab titled "Moments." Information that is available to be posted and shared here includes pictures, videos, files, and slideshows. This acts as a "launch pad" for sharing professional content, and many businesses use it to share news or information about their products and services. This process helps followers and subscribers to embrace brands, as they can also share information that businesses post to their friends and other followers within the app. Additionally, the content that businesses post is saved on their profile through the app, which they and their followers can access through the "Moments" tab of a specific company at any time.

Creating Mini Sites through the App

Regardless of the account type chosen, business have the option to either create a mobile, mini website for their business through the WeChat app, or they can link to the mobile version of their site if they have previously created one. Whenever these websites are accessed by users, they connect with the web page without having to leave the app. In addition to these mini websites, businesses can also form their own customer service processes using the live chat function of WeChat. These websites often prove to be extremely successful for B2B businesses, as they allow users to access all the content that a company has to offer at the convenience of remaining within the app.

WeChat Messaging

The messaging portion of WeChat can be utilized in many different ways for B2B businesses. As previously stated, this is the tool that can be used for customer service purposes, in addition to other things. For starters, with the "Service" account, businesses have the ability to customize message templates that can automatically reply to specific message types. For example, businesses can set up automatic replies based on a user's location, gender, or a networking group that they are a part of within the app. This tool proves extremely valuable for B2B businesses as they can direct responses appropriately, in addition to carrying out on-on-one conversation with potential and current customers without ever leaving the app. Additionally, the chat function acts as a primary method for carrying out business transactions, and some businesses even go as far as to use WeChat exclusively as their method for communicating with customers. The messaging platform is also used for group conversations and sharing, discussed below.

Groups for Networking/Resource Sharing

Business in WeChat can create groups with up to 500 followers or subscribers that are used for conversing or sharing information pertaining to specific topics. These groups operate through the messaging platform, but with a greater number of users in a single conversation. Important documents, links, and media can be shared within these groups just like in the Moments tab, but the information is more organized and specific to a business and their functions, or a designated topic. This is a prime source for communication between B2B businesses and customers, as they can share information directly without using any posts (especially if they have a limit), and many also utilize it as a way to share ideas and tips. The content shared within these groups is accessible at all times to all members.

Business Analytics and Publicizing

Perhaps one of the more popular aspects of the WeChat app for B2B businesses is their use of QR codes. These operate almost like business cards, and some businesses actually print them on their physical cards for additional networking. Every account through WeChat is provided with a QR code, through which other app-users can scan the code and become followers of a business in the app. The QR codes can be used or posted anywhere, not just within the app. These scans can then further be utilized to understand the sources and demographics of followers. For example, where are followers coming from, what kind of followers are most often scanning the code (customers, clients, partners, etc.), and more. This information can be utilized however a business sees fit.

Case Study: hb360

hb360 is a B2B eCommerce portal located in China that has over 180,000 members and users. The primary function of hb360 is to act as a connection or gateway between businesses. For example, upon going to their website, users can view products from other businesses or find connections to other companies based on specific industries (chemical, hotel, automobile, etc.). hb360 is using WeChat to create an additional eCommerce platform through the app that helps to connect businesses and products. The idea is that through the platforms (which will be called "WeMall" and "WeShop"), the sales and support of B2B companies that utilize hb360 as a gateway will grow larger.

Conclusion

The use of WeChat for B2B companies has many capabilities, if used correctly. Businesses have to be cognizant of what information they are posting, since followers can access it at any point in time. However, a quality profile and web page can help to portray a positive image and reputation, which can increase business. The use of messaging and groups through WeChat can act as a means of networking, as well as a content management tool, since all information shared is filed and available at all times.
Part
03
of three
Part
03

WeChat B2B Quick Entry

INTRODUCTION:

While direct information on barriers or methods of quick entry into WeChat China for B2B companies was unavailable, our research suggests that businesses that can provide the mainland China ID card of a WeChat subscriber, a Chinese business license, and an authorization form will be able to open and register an account directly on the WeChat site. Digital agencies and case studies of other B2B companies do not provide advice or information into the WeChat China initiation process, however they do offer tips for using the app to grow and market your business in China.

METHODOLOGY:

Although we were unable to find a direct information regarding barriers to WeChat China entry for B2B companies with a Chinese license, our research uncovered potentially helpful information for B2B companies interested in using this app. Research first focused on case studies of B2B companies that use WeChat, however examples we found did not include information regarding company entry, but rather marketing strategies. Additionally, a look into major B2B chemical and technical companies in China, including industry reports and new releases, revealed no data on how they entered WeChat China.
Expanding the search into other industries, looking at case studies, entry guides, and information for specific companies did not uncover advice regarding quick WeChat China entry. Furthermore, case studies of B2B and B2C companies that use WeChat, the latter found on the WeChat website, provided information on how the app may be utilized to grow a business but not information regarding the WeChat entry process.
Exploring the WeChat site from the standpoint of a business looking to enter the app, we found that both a subscription and a service account for mainland China requires the mainland China ID card of the account operator, a mainland China business license, and an authorization form. No further information regarding the authorization form was posted. We infer that if that this documentation is available, a business can register with WeChat directly via mp.weixin.qq.com.
The WeChat site appears to be streamlined for business entry into the app. Research did not reveal any information about companies being rejected for entry or any recommendations regarding rapid entry. Based on our findings, it appears the only barrier to entry would be not having the required documentation. Review of the start-up guides offered by WeChat found chunks of information written in Mandarin. Therefore, an operational barrier to entry may be one of language.
Broader research into advice and articles focused on B2B businesses that want to enter WeChat China lead to numerous recommendations from digital agencies on how to best use the app. However, these agencies did not offer advice on rapid entry into WeChat China.

HELPFUL FINDINGS:

WeChat has a comprehensive technical guide to using their app. Their guide includes a "Getting Started Section" as well as technical and coding information that will likely be helpful to the account manager(s). A less technical, more user-friendly guide is provided by Dragon Social, a digital agency that focuses on expanding brands to China, which includes marketing tips.

Four types of WeChat accounts are available. These include a subscription account, a service account, a mini account, and a WeChat at Work account (formerly known as an enterprise account). Subscription accounts are used to publish media content to followers, service accounts are used to offer online services and manage users, a mini site allows for service offerings to other businesses, and WeChat at Work is used for streamlining intra-office communications. The site Marketing to China provides advice to B2B companies on how to use these accounts and communicate with the Chinese market.

While case studies on major B2B companies that use WeChat did not include information on their entry into WeChat China, they may provide useful information and idea on utilizing WeChat as a business tool once entry is established. These companies include, among others, GE, Intel, and IBM. Sources at these companies may provide information on WeChat entry and potential entry barriers.

CONCLUSION:

In spite of a dearth of direct information regarding pitfalls and tips for entering WeChat China, we conclude that business accounts can be set up through WeChat online provided that the business has the required documentation. Furthermore, WeChat, various digital agencies, and case studies of WeChat usage offer a plethora of advice on effective methods to use the app.
Sources
Sources