WeChat Messages = The Bridge to Chinese Business
WeChat was born to instant message via mobile (get the name…’We’ ‘+ ‘Chat’?). All design decisions have focused on improving the native messaging user experience and as you’ll soon learn, has worked magically.
By the end of the article, you’ll be a WeChat machine and ready to make the leap, if you haven’t already, into the world of business with China.
- Texting/email is dead: WeChat won out as China’s primary mode of communication, from government officials to students.
- Humanize communication: Email comes across as a detached form of communication, while WeChat humanizes messaging. Don’t hold back 😄😄😄
- Multimedia files: Send any and all forms of media. Company introductions, decks, products, are all shared via WeChat.
- News spreads fast: Information moves at lightning speed and is a must for business to understand.
- Home Screen
- Voice Recordings
- Emojis + Stickers
- Recall Messages
- Phone Calls
- Video Calls
- Location Sharing
- Money Transfers
- Tips & Tricks
WeChat’s home screen is the chat/messaging feature and speaks volumes to fundamental nature of the app.
The Home Screen shows your contacts chat history in one place. Chats is an infinite scroll, where you can find dialogues you’ve had with people from forever ago.
“+” in Upper Right
Click the “+” in the upper right, and you can create a new chat (individual or group), add new contacts, scan QR code, or can transfer money (pay vendors or receive money).
To create a Group Chat, click the “+,” then “New Chat,” and you can select people to pull into a group. They do not need to accept, but can opt-out to leave. Ideal for teams.
Sending text is just like iMessage or other text messages services.
Click the button on the left, and it will take you to the voice recording. See the screenshot below for what it looks like.
Each voice recording can be a maximum of 60 seconds. Trust me…once you get used to leaving voice messages, you’ll never go back! It’s a great way to communicate, especially because there are no voice mails in China.
Emojis+ GIFs + Stickers
Emotions, GIFs, and Stickers are used heavily in China. Almost every message I receive comes along with some form of emoji.
You can go to the sticker market to download the latest greatest stickers. Almost all of them are free.
Custom made GIFs are hilarious…and sometimes quite dirty. If there are ones you particularly like, press and hold to save GIF to your phone.
Press and Hold
Press and holding on messages gives you more flexibility in engaging / relating content.
You can forward articles, photos, videos, text, really anything. If you want to forward more than one message as once, click “More.”
You can either send “One by One” or “Combine and Forward” which bulks them together and sends all at once.
If you favorite a message, it saves it to your profile for you to go back and look at it later. Users can’t see what you favorite or don’t favorite.
Delete only deletes the message, photo, video, etc. from your WeChat, not the person you’re chatting with. Like any content nowadays, be careful what you send out :).
Have you ever sent an email you regret or wanted to take back? I know I have. Well…WeChat gives you an option to do just that – they call it “recall.”
You have 2 minutes to recall a message once after sent. Yay! But, what’s funny, is you can see that the sender recalled the message.
Sometimes “recall” invites more questions than sending your original message :). Please do share stories in the comments.
Here’s a juicy feature….autotranslation. WeChat has a built-in feature to auto translate Chinese <> English.
Press and hold a Chinese message, click “more,” and then translate. I can’t stress enough how helpful this when trying to communicate with native Chinese speakers. All of your messages are translated into English and allows for broken, albeit effective communication.
Great job! We’ve covered the core features of WeChat messaging…yet there is so much more.
Sending photos/videos is a great way to communicate. A lot of time can avoid a ton of translation error. I’ve personally found I send a ton of screenshots.
WeChat sends photos/videos incredibly fast by automatically compressing them load/send faster.
You can send up to 9 at a time directly from your image library or take them live. You select photos by checking photos.
You can take new photos, or what WeChat calls “sights” directly in the chat screen. Once you click “camera,” here is the interface you’ll see.
Sights are short, 9 sec videos inside of WeChat. They are an excellent way to send clips of your day to friends and clients.
One of the challenges with international business are clear, affordable phone calls. Phone to phone connection is reliable but can become incredibly expensive. Skype numbers are inexpensive, but you’ll show up as an “unknown caller” on the China side, and the connection is spotty at best.
Concerning connectivity, quality, and price – WeChat is the best and is what I use. It just works….and is free. You can hold group calls with up to 9 people.
Video calls are just like FaceTime…it just works better on Chinese bandwidth. Over the past few years, I have felt/seen a decline in Skypes connectivity in China, and WeChat reigns supreme.
Sending a location is a surprisingly helpful feature, especially when you’re in a foreign country. There are two ways to do it.
When you click “Send Location,” you’ll be able to type in an address and send a pin.
I use it to record places I’ve been, or if I want to remember a good restaurant. Or, if you’re looking for a factory, your contact can send you the pin, and it will be easy to fin.
Another spinoff of the location is to share your “real-time” location.
Real-time location sharing comes in handy if you’re close by, or wanting to follow somebody that lost you on the road. I’ve found it’s more accurate than dropping a pin. While sharing, you can walkie-talkie to your friend.
Previously I wrote about Red Envelope giving.
It’s incredibly fun when you’re in a large group to send red envelopes. You specify the total money, the number of people to split, and it becomes a lottery for money. Users click the red envelope and receive some percentage of the total proceeds.
Red envelopes offer an excellent opportunity for team building, especially in/around holidays.
One of WeChat’s most impressive features is the ease at which you can transfer money. Cash will be nonexistent in China before we know it.
Easy as pie..for starters, why don’t you wire me 1 RMB. In a later post, I’ll explain how best to turn USD into RMB.
Now that you’re a WeChat pro, I’d like to share some Tips and Tricks.
Tips and Tricks
If I missed any….let me know!
Airplane Mode for Phone Calls
The biggest downside to WeChat phone calls is they drop if another call comes in. Solution? Airplane mode.
Send screenshots to other people
An easy way to report conversations, or to keep your team updated, is just to screenshot dialogues and forward to your team.
PS: One of the bonuses of sending voice recordings is there is no “screenshot” paper trail.
I’m 100% confident you are well on your way to becoming fluent in WeChat…your business with thank you.
Leave your comments/questions below and I”ll answer them to the best of my ability. Look forward to more WeChat guides soon!