WeChat Etiquette – How to Best Use Chinese Social Media?
This blog is for people who use WeChat to engage with their clients and students. I will start by discussing the differences between WeChat and Western social media and the benefits of using WeChat. Then I’ll share my ‘4R’ WeChat etiquette – Respect, Relevance, Readability, and Reachability – with some good examples.
What are some differences between WeChat and Western social media?
WeChat’s e-commerce ecosystem: WeChat integrates its convenient payment function into e-commerce. A WeChat user can buy or sell with a WeChat shop, in just a few clicks. This is unfortunately not available for those without a WeChat Pay (i.e. most people outside China).
WeChat’s personal Moments: any user can write a short post using photos, videos or texts. This can be seen by their WeChat contacts, an equivalent to a Facebook post.
WeChat’s content publishing system: A WeChat article or video can be published and be seen beyond family and friends. WeChat is also promoting its live-streaming service. Any WeCat user can view articles and videos, but publishing is restricted to people who have Chinese phone numbers.
WeChat as a content search engine: WeChat has a search button to allow text or video content search. This is a very useful research tool – but only if you can write and read Chinese.
WeChat has many apps, for shopping, booking tickets, hailing a taxi, playing games and much more.But these need either a Chinese phone number or bank account, or both. You get the picture: WeChat is a powerful and ubiquitous system within China, but to people in the West, it’s seems more like a Chinese version of WhatsApp and Facebook.
For more details about WeChat’s ecosystem, you can read my previous blog – How online English teachers use WeChat.
What are some benefits of using WeChat?
It’s an extra communication channel to communicate with your clients or students outside the live teaching sessions.
It helps you and your clients/students gain a better understanding of each other, by sharing and engaging with each other’s personal Moments.
It can be a way to deliver your value and therefore promote your service and brand, for example by posting about Western customs and culture.
The 4R WeChat Etiquette
I am asked by a few teachers about WeChat social media etiquette. I reflected on these and came up with the 4R WeChat etiquette – Respect, Relevance, Readability, and Reachability. Here, I’ll explain each one and give some examples.
Do I respond to my student’s WeChat Moments?
Sometimes students share their personal stories and emotions as Moments on WeChat which are visible to teachers. This can give you contextual understanding of your students. If you feel you have built enough trust and a safe relationship with your students, you can choose to respond or engage with these posts. But if you are still at an early stage of building trust and relationships with your students or your clients, maybe you can wait a bit before taking the plunge.
Can I promote myself on WeChat?
There is nothing wrong with sharing who you are and what do you do on social media. If people value your services, it is then up to them to take the steps to contact you for details. However, an effective way is always to listen first and discover your target audience. What do they want and need? What does your message mean to them? How would they feel about non-stop self-promotion? What will really benefit them?
What should I put on my WeChat Moments?
My suggestion is that this is a perfect platform for you to demonstrate your unique value. What is expertise? What are some advice and opinions you can share? What are some problem-solving tips that will be practical and helpful to your target clients? What are some common questions your students or clients ask you again and again and again? If you deliver and demonstrate your value here, you will be surprised how this will shape your personal brand over time.
Should I share my daily life on WeChat Moments?
WeChat Moments offer us a way to share our cultures and daily lives with people living in other continents and areas. This is fantastic. Be authentic. It’s a cool way to show how much we have in common, despite our differences.
Below is an example from teacher Cheri who shares her daughter’s volleyball team. This will definitely speak to the moms who are proud of their children.
Should I share text or photos or videos on WeChat Moments?
This is a great question that is probably relevant to all social media channels. From my own experience, people’s attention span is increasingly short, so I find pictures or videos achieve better engagement results. Remember, a (relevant) picture is worth a thousand words.
Do I write in English or Chinese on WeChat Moments?
Again, this is an important but tricky one. How to overcome language and cultural barriers and communicate effectively with your clients or students is a constant challenge. If your clients have a basic understanding of English, then they will understand your WeChat message in English using the App’s translation function. A brief message will work better. If it is an important message, you might want it to be translated into Chinese by someone you trust.
How can people find me?
Sometimes, I see awesome infographics, great videos, and helpful tips but there is no contact information, no brand. That’s a pity, as maybe a potential client really likes what you says and agrees with your approach but there is no way to follow up.
While working with her online students, teacher Cavy realised the importance of showing parents on how to create a safe, fun, and healthy learning environment. In November 2021, Cavy and Lenka De Villiers-van Zyl spoke at our parent-teacher networking event about co-regulating emotions with children.
During the event Q&A session, parents asked dozens of questions. As they didn’t have enough time to address each of them, they created several infographics as post-event support.
This is a classic example to demonstrate the 4 Rs of using social media with your students and clients:
Respect – They really listened to the parents(clients)
Relevance – They created content that is valuable to the audience
Readability – Its graphic format makes it fun and easy to read
Reachability – There is an email address and logo at the end of each one.
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