China Social Media tools 1.0, Wechat
Right on the coat tails of What’s App is Wechat with nearly 500 million users compared with the 1 billion number that Whats App boasts. This 500 million-user mark is a bit deceiving though as most of the user base is located in China and this app has made its way outside of the realm of just social media into a definitive business tool in China. At this point, you’re just as likely to be asked for your Wechat in China as you are to be asked for your business card, “加一个微信” “jia yi ge weixin” which literally translates into add my wechat, is quickly becoming a useful Mandarin term for foreigners before they get on that plane for their first business trip to China, open up your QR code page, scan away and now you have the digital contact of your new Chinese business partner. Luckily this app is a literal knock off of its whats app cousin and has both an English and Chinese app, as does QQ, and is basically the same idea, cheap texting over the data network combined with a social media update feature.
The combination of the two is utilized very well in China, and businesses use the update function to advertise relevant updates about what is happening in their industry along with links to important websites. This app also can quickly send documents in several different formats and is used in every industry in China to get deals done. Business travel on trains and subways is more common in China than the US, and the average Chinese worker spends a lot of time on the move due to the vast sizes of every city, chances are that they are moving around a lot! They need a functional app that they can conduct business on and advertise with being that they may have limited access to a desktop computer during the week (or at least on a per hourly basis compared to Americans due to all the commuting).
So remember, before your boss sends you on that first trip to China, download wechat first, it will make it easier to collect useful leads in China and keep in touch with your contacts in the mainland as they are more likely to be checking their wechats than their text messages.