How different generations communicate and how we as marketers can be a part of that conversation are questions that seems to stand the test of time. There are of course the demographic variables to take into consideration as the world of communication and the world we live in interconnect. But no matter where your customers live, how they communicate and how they approach different products and brands (or don`t), there is always something to be learned from it.
What I find interesting now is what differs the most from the part of the world that I live in; which is China.
With the great firewall of China blocking facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter it is no wonder that WeChat has become the Chinese populations “everything”. The innovation in WeChat is still impressive though and the rest of the world should pay close attention to the service they provide within the app. This is an app that has 570 million daily users and it is not just a chat app, it is your mobile wallet, your daily news provider, your blog platform, and might even be your recruitment platform soon as they have a LinkedIn integration as well. Apps like Whatsapp pale in comparison to the services available for WeChat`s audience in China.
Media and brands are now finding their way in to take part in the conversation with their target audience in an app that is such a big part of this populations life. As for most social media channels the individual is very much the hart of the conversation, and to just set up an account for an official media publisher within WeChat is likely to not have as strong of impact or influence as an individual voice has.
Some publishers recognizes this by encouraging their reporters to set up their own public accounts on WeChat sponsored by their publisher employer. This way the news are communicated in a personal way and not only in a “texted” version from mass media content.
KLM is one of the brands that has started their conversations with their Chinese customers on WeChat, and by integrating this platform into their CRM system they can use this channel more efficiently based on previous interactions with their customers on other platforms. KLM take their social media seriously and believe that they can serve their client best `where ever they are` .
Outside China we are more familiar with WhatsApp, which now has 1 Billions users. KLM are of course using the popular WhatsApp chat app as well in their social media mix. At Schiphol airport in Amsterdam you can now rebook your cancelled flight via WhatsApp, so you don`t have to stand in line at the service desk should your flight be cancelled due to an ash cloud or earthquake. A service that might be more useful on a frequent basis is how the Starwood Hotel Group use WhatsApp to communicate with the guests staying in their hotels. At the W Hotel in Doha you can ask the Guest services/ Concierge/W Insider for a wake up call, dinner reservations, room service, butler assistance, dry cleaning and more.
This of course opens up to new expectations in how your audience will demand that you are accessible to them. Whatsapp, Faceboook Messenger, Viber, and the likes of them, can prove to be a vital step in how you build customer loyalty when your audience`s phone is glued to their hands. And for the travel industry it is also an excuse to make communication easy in a world where no traveller really needs them anymore unless something goes wrong.
We as marketers and/or publishers now need to carefully take part in this conversation, and to quote Marissa Meyer about Tumblr ” promise not to fuck it up”.
(Researching for this article I used my own experience and the following sources: Tech in Asia, Fusion.com, KLM, and Cmo.com)