WeChat guide for aesthetic clinics: Tips for marketing to Chinese patients

WeChat Guide for Chinese in Asia

WeChat for aesthetic clinics has become essential, not just optional, for reaching out to Chinese audiences. The super-app is a Goliath of the Chinese Internet ecosystem, boasting over 45 billion messages sent every day1, 1.15 billion active monthly users, and 20 million business accounts.

WeChat is often compared to other social media apps outside China; Facebook has 2.89 billion monthly users, and Instagram -has 2 billion. But consider this: WeChat operates mostly within the self-sufficient Chinese Internet, and is an entire ecosystem unto itself.

Imagine Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, and Apple Pay all rolled into one: that’s WeChat.

The app’s integrated components simplify the user journey for its massive captive audience—users can research, browse, and purchase2 at any time within their WeChat online experience, while business accounts can complete the whole customer journey3 – acquisition, activation, and retention – in the same way.

With its powerful functionality, wide reach, and high engagement, WeChat has become an essential e-commerce and communication platform for aesthetics industry players who are trying to speed growth4.

Want to reach that growing, discerning Chinese market? It’s time to master your WeChat game.

WeChat official page

Creating a presence on WeChat

You start by creating a WeChat Official Account (also referred to as “OA”). Unlike a personal account, an OA is specifically designed for brands. OA accounts are an all-in-one brand hub on WeChat, allowing brands to build a following, send followers targeted content and push notifications, and facilitate e-commerce.

Aesthetic brands should be aware that WeChat distinguishes between China and non-China entities creating business accounts. Non-China entities can only create Overseas China Service Accounts (海外特殊认证的国内服务号), which may have a few limitations5 compared to accounts registered to Chinese entities. Those limits won’t get in the way of reaching the Chinese audience you need, though!

To get started, visit the Official Accounts login page here: mp.weixin.qq.com. Here’s the step-by-step process for creating an Official Account:

1. Choose an account type: if you’re a non-China entity, you will only be able to select a “Service Account”.

2. Create a user account: Enter your email, select your business license region from the drop-down list, and enter your business’ details, based on your local business license. WeChat will also require that you designate an account administrator, providing their name, passport number and mobile number for verification.

3. Create an account profile: pick an account name, write an introduction to your account, and select an “operating area”.

4. Verify your account: Verification will cost US$99, payable over WeChat Pay. Wait a couple of weeks before someone from TenCent will call to confirm your account.

Aesthetic brands with brand-new Official Accounts can play around with the essential components of WeChat:

  • Wechat Moments – comparable to Facebook’s social media feed, where users can share and receive status updates, pictures, and videos between friends
  • Group Chat – comparable to WhatsApp or Viber, where users can create groups for ongoing conversations, accessible by personal invite or QR code
  • WeChat Pay – WeChat’s platform for mobile payments, facilitated by QR codes

Building blocks of promotion on WeChat

Believe it or not, you can actually promote a business on WeChat without spending a lot. Growing your presence organically requires a huge time commitment: posting content on one’s official timeline, manually adding followers, etcetera. It’s cheap—but you don’t get far.
If you have a budget to spare for marketing on WeChat, though, the platform allows you to promote your business through one or more paid channels.

WeChat KOL (key opinion leaders, or influencers) are leading personalities6 with large fanbases on the platform. Many KOLs can be hired to promote or review businesses.

KOLs often launch live streams during Chinese New Year to promote deals for the aesthetic clinics that sponsor them. Data gathered during Chinese New Year 7 suggests that KOL promotions helped sales of aesthetic medicine services rise by nearly 40 times year-on-year!

WeChat paid advertising comes in three different flavours: sponsored posts on WeChat Moments, which appear in between updates from friends; article banner ads that appear on WeChat content; and Mini-Program ads that appear within the mini-program interface.

The platform limits the number of ads users can see in one day; on WeChat Moments, users will only see three ads in a 24-hour period. The platform also allows users to comment on ads, but users will only see their friends’ comments on each ad (hiding non-friends’ feedback).

Mini-Programs are WeChat’s “apps within the app” – third-party apps created to function within the WeChat interface. Mini-Programs increase WeChat functionality within the ecosystem—for instance, a ride-hailing app8 that lets you get a ride and pay for it over WeChat Pay.

Companies can apply for a developer license as an overseas entity, if they have staff proficient in app design and Javascript; or they can hire a third party to develop their Mini-Program for them.

Companies can apply for a developer license as an overseas entity, if they have staff proficient in app design and Javascript; or they can hire a third party to develop their Mini-Program for them.

WeChat for aesthetic clinics: tips and tricks

Brands are using WeChat to generate more personal levels of connection, interaction and targeting to target audience

Aim for specific audience segments. With millions of users on the platform, it’s essential to winnow down your message to appeal to particular interest categories9. WeChat offers several ways to target your message – you can geo-target customers based on location, and offer updates for in-store offers near them; you can provide tailored beauty solutions for different age groups, even provide personal-response services for customers who message your account.

Tap key opinion leaders (KOLs) that fit your specific market segment. If your aesthetic clinic can find a KOL whose following matches your target audience, you can use their influence to advertise the business. Who needs to painstakingly build a following, when you can just reach out to a KOL’s?

Use Mini-Programs: extend your engagement by using custom-branded apps10 to provide specific services or promotions! Well-designed Mini-Programs can serve as the flashy face of your clinic: offering interactive experiences and special discounts to users.

Wechat mini program

For instance, aesthetic medicine marketplace SoYoung leverages its WeChat mini-programs to attract leads and raise brand awareness through social media-ready games11. Using their “Golden Triangle” game, users can upload selfies and digitally compare their faces against shapes like the “golden triangle face,” the “pear-shaped face,” and the “mandibular angle.” Then there’s the “Big Eyes Competition” game that compares users’ eye sizes against other users.

Promote during festivals: while Chinese New Year has long been a favourite time to launch new specials and products, this traditional festival has recently taken a back seat to holidays12 like the Qixi Festival (seventh day of the seventh Chinese lunar month), the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day that falls on August 4 in 2022; and Single’s Day (November 11).

The latter has become the world’s biggest shopping event, its $74 billion take13 in 2020 exceeding Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Prime Day combined!

True, launching promotions during Chinese New Year, Qixi and Single’s Day means you’ll be competing in a crowded market—but your target audience will be far more receptive to sales and promotions during these festive seasons!

Conclusion: WeChat’s personal connection

WeChat is the ideal tool for marketing your aesthetic clinic to China-based consumers. The super-app gives even small clinics the ability to reach customers at different parts of the buying cycle, whether through ads on Moments, through personable testimonies by KOLs, or through interactive Mini-Programs.

Most importantly, aesthetic brands can use WeChat to engage with customers on a personal level, generating better engagement rates on WeChat compared to other methods.
You don’t have to start your WeChat journey alone. You can talk to an expert like Candela Medical to help you grow your company through a WeChat marketing program that builds thousands of new connections14 between your aesthetic clinic and the right people.