Every marketer will agree on the fact that the more steps customers need to take before they can actually buy something, the higher the risk they will change their mind, hesitate or get distracted. Allowing people to buy directly from a social media account is the quickest way to sell products, and therefore substantially lowers the risk of losing customers somewhere in the process. Various social media platform realised the potential of a direct sales channel and have developed features to facilitate this.
Instagram, for example, has a built-in feature that allows brands to add tags to posted pictures. When a viewer clicks on a tag, a detailed description of the product appears, and when he clicks a second time, he is redirected to the retailer’s website where he can buy the product.
Facebook has a somewhat similar feature, that allows brands to add a ‘buy now’ button to their posts. When a viewer is interested in the post and clicks the button, he or she is immediately directed to the retailer’s website and given the opportunity to buy the product(s).
In China, the country ruled by WeChat and Weibo, they certainly haven’t missed out on this opportunity of the direct buying option. You might already be familiar with the options in WeChat, where official account can make use of a built-in ecommerce platform that allows them to sell goods and services, and enables customers to make payments with their WeChat wallet.
But did you know that Weibo has some great options as well? Let’s dive deeper into the wonderful world of China’s Twitter and learn how you can get your followers to buy!
Weibo has a built-in shop feature that works pretty simple: it deep links to the Taobao/Tmall app. And believe us when we say, this combination is a match made in heaven. Taobao and Tmall are widely known and used in China, but not really considered fun places to ‘hang out’. People usually only visit Taobao when they want to buy something, preferably as quickly as possible. Weibo, on the other hand, is a social platform where people post their views, watch videos, follow opinion leaders and share interesting content. People that visit Weibo are usually not looking for something, which obviously does not mean they cannot be persuaded into buying something. Especially in China, where people are known for following the herd, consuming brands and products that are liked, commented on and/or shared by their friends and family will drive an inner urge to ‘wanna buy’. This directly explains the importance of ecommerce features on social media platforms. Because what better way is there to ensure actual transactions than to let the consumers walk the path of the least resistance.
So, how to use it?
There are two different ways in which your Weibo account can be used as an eommerce channel. Probably the easiest way is adding the link of your Tmall store to your post on Weibo, somewhat similar to the ‘buy now’ button on Facebook. Clicking this link will redirect your viewers to your Tmall store and enable them immediately to buy your products.
The slightly more complex way is to build a Weibo shop within your Weibo account, that will allow you to direct viewers to the products available in your shop. There are two different ways you can do this:
Official account page
When a Weibo account includes a Weibo shop, some of the products will be displayed on the homepage. After clicking the shop’s headline or a specific product, (potential) customers will be redirected to the Weibo shop where they can view all available products. When a product is clicked on, a detailed product description will appear. When the customer decides to click through, he or she will be redirected to the specific product page on Tmall where the product can be bought.
Images in post
Both company and personal accounts have the ability to include images in their posts on Weibo, and link these images to product pages for ecommerce purposes. The mechanism is similar to the mechanism explained before, but now the (potential) customer is redirected from a Weibo post instead of an account page. When a (potential) customer clicks on a product, he or she is redirected to a detailed product description in the corresponding Weibo shop. When clicked a second time, he or she is redirected to the specific product page on Tmall and given the opportunity to buy the product.
Besides brands using Weibo as an ecommerce channel, Key Opinion Leaders often use Weibo to direct their followers to ecommerce as well. KOLs are already widely used by brands to create brand awareness and reach potential customers, so why not use them to increase your sales rate as well? And it’s a two-way street, as the KOLs often get a commission off the sales that ran through their link. A great example of this phenomenon is Linxin Disgn, a typical fashion KOL that posts articles featuring clothes, beauty products and makeup tutorials. The account pushes about 50 post per days, and monetizes via ads and Taobao integration. The strategy used is simple and exactly like highlighted above: in the majority of posts two links are offered together with product promotions. The first link leads to a discount offer. The second link takes the user to the product on Tmall, where the product can be bought with the just acquired discount.