Here in Shanghai, one thing we’re noticing is the steady rise of WeChat group chats for professionals. Of course, we only know this through word of mouth – you can’t search people’s private group chats. But alongside official corporate WeChat accounts, this growing trend is becoming increasingly important to tap into.
Groups of professionals are setting up their own group chats to share industry news. We’ve talked to dozens of industry experts across many verticals in buyer journey and touchpoint workshops. They told us in detail how they interact personally and professionally to share information.
As we know, groups can range from a handful to hundreds of people, and how useful they are varies widely. Some say the groups they are in are very informal, it’s mostly banter and a little bit of work, others say it is a serious environment where people are exchanging useful contacts and information.
Like on LinkedIn, some are heavily moderated by the members, others are more of a free for all.
This is guanxi 2.0 – people are making digital connections through closed groups.
WeChat is a ‘walled garden’, which means throwing out content with hashtags isn’t going to work. Your message needs to be targeted to the right audience, and that will be people in these groups.
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking supply chain logistics, automotive steel, industrial adhesive or the tops on beer bottles – whoever those people in that group are, they will want to gain face with the group. They want to be the guy who posts a piece of content that gets all the likes and comments – whether it is a piece of news, an infographic, movie or industry tips.
So this is why good content is so crucial. People will share content when they think it’s valuable, it’s interesting, or it makes them look like an authority on the subject. If you are making great content and posting it on official accounts, followers are likely to share into their own private groups.
Talk to people in your industry in China, and ask if they have a specific group about their particular field. Ask what people post about, and ask for examples.
What people say to each other ‘in private’ is important for your brand – make sure your content makes you part of the conversation.