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Case Study: WeChat marketing for Higher Education

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WeChat marketing for higher education

Case Study: WeChat marketing for Higher Education

Introduction to WeChat Marketing for Education-


There are several reasons why WeChat marketing for higher education works. In this blog post, I will be exploring some of the best practices and giving examples of different institutions.


WeChat is an incredibly popular social media messaging platform in China. Most overseas companies look at it as the eqivalent of a  Chinese Facebook, but in reality there are many platforms competing for that title. WeChat offers a range of features and functions that make it a unique platform.


Owned by tech giants Tencent, whom also run the country’s second largest social media platform QQ, WeChat is effectively an amalgamation of different social media platforms. Originally launched in 2011, it started off as a basic instant messaging platform for mobile phone users. However, it grew quickly.


As mobile phone messaging is relatively expensive in China, WeChat became a great way to keep in contact with friends and family all across China.


As time passed, Tencent began adding different features, that would eventually lead the app to become the biggest social media platform in China. As the Chinese app ecosystem was relatively under developed it did not take long.


The multifunctionality of WeChat resulted in it becoming a great way for companies to gather intel about their prospective customers, as well as personal messaging services. Tencent added moments which essentially became the Facebook of China.


Other features of the app include group messaging, following which allows companies to interact with users, WeChat pay, which allows customers to pay for products in the app but also pays for physical products (similar to apple pay).


Why should higher education institutions care about WeChat-


There are a variety of reasons why higher education institutions should care about WeChat. As it is a predominately a social media platform, it is mainly used by members of the younger generation.


WeChat marketing for Higher education age demographics

Source: China Channel


As this graph from China Channel states, the user demographic for WeChat is relatively young, and while it is shifting to the older generations, there is still a massive proportion of younger users.


In 2016, 50% of users spent at least 90 minutes a day on the app. What is more crucial is that 65% of WeChat users were born in the 80’s or 90’s, the prime market for higher education.


WeChat is essential for any kind of marketing in China as it is the main platform of communication. While the younger generation may be using other social media apps, like live streaming apps, WeChat is the staple of all online communication.


WeChat’s features also allow more personal contact than many other social media apps that you may be used too. As you are able to directly communicate with prospective students, you will be able to foster a relationship long before they actually visit your university or institution.


Equally, most users of WeChat are from 1st tier cities, but this does not eliminate other cities. Thus, marketing in China to prospective students on WeChat will provide you with a range of potential students. Most Chinese students are also privately funded.


WeChat marketing for higher education



Examples of effective WeChat marketing by Higher Education Institutions-


Michigan State University


Michigan State University (MSU) is a large school in America with a relatively high proportion of Chinese students, as well as a very strong presence on WeChat.


MSU has a student population of around 50,000 and a very diverse student population.


MSU demographics for higher education WeChat marketing


As you can see China has the largest proportion of students for East Asia, and the number of Chinese students at the university has increased dramatically in the past few years. This can be attributed to their effective WeChat strategy.


Begining in May 2013, MSU launched the WeChat service to keep current students up to date with different local issues. For instance, they sent out alerts to warn students of incoming tornadoes. This was an effective strategy because it calmed students down, and allowed the university to communicate with their students on a more personal level.


MSU wechat marketing alerts


Eventually, MSU realised that WeChat would be an effective way to communicate with prospective Chinese students.


They started simple, by keeping their homepage up to date with on campus actions. They would regularly post moments on WeChat in order to engage Chinese students with the campus as well as different courses.


Eventually, they create an automated incoming message. When new people connected to the page they would receive an automatic message welcoming them to the universities page in both English and Chinese.


This is an effective campaign because it creates a personal connection with the prospective student. It can be incredibly daunting looking at universities where the language is not your first language and is in a completely different culture to your own. Thus, creating this personal connection with new students is incredibly important.


MSU also created a simple and easy to navigate the main menu which made it easy to access information about the university. Students can research professors and different courses online, as well as directing you to a Chinese version of the school’s website.


MSU also post regularly about the local area making prospective students feel comfortable when they move to a new country. This is effective as it is well known that Chinese consumers tend to do a lot of research, so they made this element easy for prospective students.


The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


Another university that effectively used WeChat to market their school to Chinese students is the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM).


In 2011, the dean of the university signed a contract allowing them to advertise across China, and part of this strategy was marketing on WeChat.


UWM WeChat marketing for higher education


The initial aim of the campaign was to increase diversity on campus. and by 2015 there were around 404 Chinese students. While this does not sound like a lot, keep in mind that this university is generally attended by students who already live in the state (84%), thus this is quite a high per centage.


UWM regularly updated their WeChat with updates about courses as well as different professors. They were also active in their posting about extra-curricular activities, such as sports and drama.


The University of Surrey


The University of Surrey (US) started using WeChat in 2015. US has a student population of 14,636. While they do not publish data about different ethnicities, around 40% of the student population are part of an ethnic minority, and 22% of the student population is from overseas.


WeChat Marketing for higher education University of Surrey


US started using WeChat in order to connect Chinese students to the university to different service before they arrived in the United Kingdom. They link the QR code on their website, so students that are coming from China are able to receive updates about the university on a platform that they feel comfortable with.


This was an example of WeChat best practices as it demonstrated an understanding of their target audience. Since they were looking to target the younger user demographic on WeChat, they used language that their potential new students would use, as well as posting content about the university that they thought they would enjoy.


Dorset College, Vancouver-


Another example of effective WeChat marketing for higher education is Dorset College. Dorset college is essentially a transfer school, in other words, they specialise in students who want to transfer to better universities but may not have access.


Dorset created two different custom menus on WeChat in order to make navigation of the profile seamless and effective.


The first menu was about the college itself. Different pages provided the user with information about the local area, professors, housing and classes. So fairly similar to the other cases we have read about.


What made them stand out, was their second custom menu. On a different page, the college provided information about different schools that you could transfer too from Dorset. This was an incredibly effective marketing tool.


WeChat marketing for higher education Dorset College


Not only did they already do all the research for the customer, but they demonstrated the service they were providing in a very concise way. Each different drop down tab would give prospective students information on the different schools, and what course requirements they would need to get into these schools.


Why WeChat Marketing is effective for Higher Education Institutions-


There are several reasons why WeChat marketing is effective for higher education marketing.


Firstly, it allows you reach a wider base of potential students. Since so many social media sites are banned in China, this really is the best place to go to reach Chinese students.


Secondly, it allows you to create a personal connection with students long before they reach the campus. Since the app allows companies to directly contact their followers, you can communicate with prospective students about what they want, and provide up to date information.


Thirdly, it allows you to keep your university up to date with the current social media trends. While WeChat is still predominately used by China, there are still many other international users.


Finally, it allows you to market to a larger portion of prospective students if you are not as well known. Getting your name out to more people, and being able to advertise your brand effectively is essential to staying competitive in the education market. Since China has the largest population in the world, there are a wealth of students at your finger tips.


If you would like to know more about our service, and what we can do for you in terms of WeChat marketing, as well as marketing to China, visit our webpage to find out more.

Imogen Ursell
Imogen Ursell

Imogen is currently working at Dragon Social as the digital marketing content liaison. She has written previously for The Tab and Babe. She enjoys playing hockey, going out with friends and hiking.

  • Avatar
    Posted at 6:53 pm, March 6, 2018

    Great blog!. I really liked the idea of WeChat marketing for higher education and i will share this information with the members of QandA that is a platform for students, teachers and other related people to discuss their thoughts and experiences on learning and other topics this will help them in marketing. Really appreciating post. Thanks and keep sharing more posts like this.

  • Avatar
    Posted at 8:12 pm, March 17, 2018

    Nice! thank you so much! Thank you for sharing. Your blog posts are more interesting and informative about WeChat marketing

  • Avatar
    Posted at 2:44 pm, August 22, 2019

    Thanks for sharing this so interesting post! I really want to be thankful for the way you have put it here.

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