If you think that China’s WeChat is just another messaging app, think again. It is light-years ahead of the apps we use in the West. It’s like Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Uber, Apple Pay, and other life tools beyond the imagination all wrapped into one. WeChat adopters make everyday transactions, buy train tickets, professionally network, find dates, stay in touch with family and friends, take classes, play games all through the app. This is just to name a few of the activities you can do with WeChat; if you’re interested in getting more of a feel, this Bloomberg BusinessWeek article gives a great introduction to the WeChat “lifestyle”.
As people can basically live their entire lives through WeChat, it’s no wonder that 90% of internet users in China who connect with a mobile average over 33% of their online time in WeChat.
If you’re recruiting Chinese students, you probably already have a WeChat presence. But, as dynamic as this app is, you can’t just throw your typical social media marketing strategy at it. This is the place to really flex your creative muscles to connect with students in a meaningful way. I’ll leave you to innovate, but here are some questions to ask yourself as you think on it.
1. How can we express ourselves beyond words?
Who doesn’t enjoy a well-placed emoji? WeChat has a wide range of emojis and stickers to help people engender tone and personality in a way that can’t quite be accomplished with text alone. Consider instances when visual support is appropriate, and when it’s not. What sorts of visuals best reflect your brand, and which do not?
2. What “Moments” are the most meaningful and influential among our prospective students?
In kind to Instagram, WeChat’s “Moments” gives you the opportunity to post photos with commentary. What are your institution’s day-to-day moments that appeal to this audience? What do your current students from China love most about your classes, campus, and culture and how can you curate these valued moments?
3. How will we introduce ourselves?
While the idea of a QR code scan seems pretty dry, this process has more of an etiquette attached to it. In China, they call the act of connecting on WeChat sao yi sao. It’s worth being a bit picky with the way you sign-post your QR code on your website to ensure a great first impression. For example, dress your QR code with your college colors and use graphics on your landing pages to draw the eyes toward your QR code.
4. Are we up for some fun and games?
WeChat offers access to games and entertainment and it could be worth your while to play in that arena. How can you put a fun spin on your recruitment activities to engage your prospective students through the app? Can you gamify a virtual tour for instance or host a networking event with current international students?
This next-generation app warrants some next-generation thinking, Now, go on and give it a try.