I was given the opportunity to join a panel at one of the only WeChat marketing conferences for the international community in China. People come from all over the world to listen to the latest trends about WeChat, how to utilize WeChat for business and e-commerce, to brand their business, and getting in touch with influencers.
For those of you unfamiliar with WeChat, it's a superapp no doubt. I always describe it as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat all rolled into one. It can do so much more than just messaging and file sharing though.
People can also send money to each other on it, I mean seriously it's ridic how much of a cashless society Shanghai is turning into because of WeChat and its rival AliPay. I can send my partner money in the same chat where we discuss what we are going to eat for dinner, and the same chat I just shared a funny picture or a PDF of an invoice we are sending to a client.
You can also send the new miniprograms to friends in chat groups or personal messages, from buying tickets, to an online shoe retailer, it can all be done within WeChat.
You literally never need to leave the app but you can still do EVERYTHING.
Let me explain to you a typical Saturday day in the life of my WeChat.
8am - I wake up, I want to head to breakfast at a local brunch spot, I text the chat group for that restaurant and ask the manager to book me a table, done.
830 - I get ready to head off and my shoe's heel breaks, I go back into WeChat and find the official account of a cobbler, I click on the problem from a list of pictures of shoe repair problems, I click pay, I put in my wallet code, paid, done. They will come pick up my broken heels at 6pm.
845 - I continue getting ready to go to brunch and forget I need to send my cleaning lady her payment from yesterday, I send her a quick 50 bucks. Done.
11 - I head to brunch, snap some photos of my delicious meal. Post them on my moments, my friends can comment and like the pics. I forget I was supposed to go with Laura so she sends me a gif of a mad face, I send her a voice note apologizing and a kissy face gif and let her know we will go next week.
1 - I head back home and need to buy a water and shampoo at my local market, I show my QR code, and they scan it directly in WeChat. paid. Go to my local fruit stand, same. paid.
130 - Walk into my house, sit down, decide to do some shopping. Need to buy a dress for this weekend. I browse on some of my favorite stores official WeChat accounts, find a pair of boots, and buy all within the chat, done.
230 - I get bored so I decide I want to read up on what's happening in the rest of the world, I go to a local magazine's WeChat official account and read their latest articles. Same with some business articles, and the newest restaurants opening in my neighborhood. Nice, I am all caught up with my news for the day.
330 - I decide to have a pre-dinner cocktails with some friends. I create a quick group chat with ten girls. I ask who's up for cocktails at XXXX at 5pm? They send various gifs saying yes or no, some send videos that they're out of town, or at work. Some send voice notes. Okay okay.
5 - Head to happy hour, have some drinks, pay via my QR code on WeChat. Done.
630 - Dinner.
You get the point.
I mean this is JUST the beginning of WeChat, it's JUST the tip of the iceberg. There is a million more things I can't even describe to you.
The functionality is ENDLESS.
The best part has to be the wallet function and the fact that Chinese citizens and expats are so comfortable with a social media giant having access to their bank accounts. Whatever, I have nothing to hide, but would I give Facebook access to my bank account? Probably not, they would get hacked and my identity, stolen.
Ok, totally strayed off topic but I cannot emphasize how GREAT WeChat is, so much that I have built multiple communities for GGI in China on this platform. I admin more WeChat groups than I can count.
That's why I was invited to speak at the conference. I have built high quality, interactive, communities on this amazing platform. Think Facebook group but with endless chatter, its more of a facebook message with hundreds of people in the group message.
It's been tough, lots of spam, lots of robots, lots of negativity, but it's been a fun ride and now I can share my story with the China marketing community.
Or so I thought. We had the last time slot of the day, so people were tired of listening to people yap and yap.
My fellow panelists decided to start our panel with everyone popping a beer, to wake everyone up. Then, Nishtha the moderator, tried to pump up the crowd.
It was cute, I just sat there laughing like hey, let's get to business. I have a lot to share.
We asked the audience how many people were in our chats, and lots of hands raised, nice. We started by introducing our communities and a bit about ourselves.
Then, we dove into rules and boy do I love rules. I am principled about them. If you break the rules in my group, you get deleted, we are all adults after all, read the rules and respect the community you join on WeChat. It sounds dumb but it's not. This is what separates good groups from bad ones.
The panel got a little messy with another guy sharing his story on Nistha's mic for farrrrr too long, and going off on weird tangents but I hope people understood by the end of our panel that in order for a community to be built, it's important to be present and be a good moderator. In the case of the GGI groups, offline events are always key.
It ended quick, and before I knew it, we were heading to the afterparty where I met some of China's movers and shakers. The crowd at the conference were electric, fast-thinking and fast-talking, I absolutely loved it. I met some fantastic people who love WeChat just as much as I do, and always want to join the community I've built.
Overall, it was a nice experience. It wasn't exactly as well organized as TEDx events and speakers are not as comfortable talking to large audiences or at least they weren't curated but it was still nice to see everyone there to learn more about this superapp that is almost at a billion total users in only 7 years.
Watch out world, WeChat is coming.