WeChat launched a live streaming feature for Official Accounts. How does it work and is it the next big thing to sell your products?
How does WeChat Official Account live streaming work?
How to create an Official Account Live Stream?
Tencent Live Streaming team is still testing this new feature, and only a few selected KOL (key opinion leaders) were invited to use it. However, you can apply to use Official Account Live Streaming via the following steps.
- Step 1: Download the 腾讯直播APP following the instruction in the link below on your phone (only available on iOS devices for now): https://dwz.cn/8vbn3Ugl
- Step 2: Register as a user on 腾讯直播 APP, note you need to submit a photo of a Chinese ID in order to become a live streaming host.
- Step 3: Follow the Official Account “腾讯直播测试” and click on “申请内测” on the menu to apply. You will need to provide a screenshot of your Official Account backend with the number of followers.
It will take around 3 days for the WeChat team to check and approve your application.
Once approved, you can create a live stream event using the Tencent Live Stream App.
Campaign user path
The Official Account can send out a live streaming invitation via either a Mini Program link within a WeChat article or a poster with Mini Program QR code.
The link is usually shared several hours before the start of the live-streaming.
Users can signup to receive notifications about the live streaming campaign. The Tencent Livestream Mini Program will send a service notification to the users who signed up.
The Tencent live streaming is integrated with WeChat store platforms such as WeStock 波罗蜜 and See小店铺. The official API has not been released yet. According to a reliable source, WeChat will later launch an official Live Streaming plugin.
Campaigns case study
Hibetterme – 48% sales conversion rate
Hibetterme is one of the largest WeChat account focusing on educational content related to cosmetics and lifestyle products. It has an e-commerce platform focusing on selling Japanese cosmetics products. The live-streaming campaign was hosted by Jiutian, the founder, focusing on promoting the products on her WeChat store.
The live-streaming notice was sent only 2 hours in advance. Users were asked to scan a QR code in order to get a reminder for the live-streaming.
The content of the live-streaming featured Jiutian trying out each product and recommending the skin care products to users with different skin types. Most product were between 40 RMB to 300 RMB.
According to ebrun.com, here are the impressive campaign results:
- 4,212 users signed up for the live-streaming reminder (average article view is > 100,000)
- A maximum of 1,363 users watched the Hibetterme campaign simultaneously
- 28% of the user finished the whole 1-hour live-streaming
- Users left 1,553 comments
- Sales conversion rate was 48.5%!
Although campaign signup rate is less than 4% of the average article view, 28% of the viewer completed the one-hour campaign! This is extremely high given WeChat users’ attention span on their mobile phone is usually less than 5 minutes.
48.5% sales conversion rate (# of user who made a purchase/ # of users visited the store during live streaming) also shows that live-streaming format is extremely effective in converting users to making a purchase.
Compared with the WeChat KOL campaigns we conducted for clients, including the ones we’ve run with Hibetterme, the average sales conversion rate is 2-3% (although the average item price of our client is also much higher, usually between 1,000 RMB to 3,000 RMB).
Ta Read is an Official Account focused on recommending and selling fashion/cosmetics products.
It launched a 2-hour live streaming campaign via a push message on WeChat.
The article linked to the Tencent live-streaming Mini Program.
According to ebrun.com:
- The article got over 70k views, 11,951 (17%) users clicked into the live streaming campaign
- Of all the viewers, 6,704 of them ( 56%) visited the WeChat store
- 1,228 orders were made: around 18% conversion rate from live streaming to sales
The live-streaming content is less impressive. 2 hosts selling shirts, lipsticks, and skin care products, just like a typical Taobao live streaming or even an infomercial. The 2 hosts were not sure if the broadcast had begun and said hello to the audiences 5 times.
The poorly designed video content is made up by the steady high-quality articles that the Official Account sent throughout the years. Because it is an account that focuses on making purchasing recommendations for women, users are used to trusting its advices. This strong base of followers was the key to the success of the campaign.
Another element helping with the conversion rate was a generous discount of 15% off on all store items, and a lucky draw to win lipsticks during the livestream.
What makes Tencent live-streaming so effective for e-commerce?
Traffic is generated from the Official Account, instead of from a “news feed” like other platforms. This means the WeChat audiences are already followers who are familiar with the content of the Official Account. This “trust factor” significantly impacts conversion rates.
The drawback of Tencent live-streaming is that the platform won’t drive any traffic to the host even if the campaign engagement is high. You are on your own for traffic generation.
Urgency to make a purchase
In both Hibetterme and Ta Read campaign, the host provides special discount codes that only work during the live-streaming period. In the case of Hibetterme, even the product quantity is limited. These time-sensitive action call helps to improve the conversion rate, as social commerce is all about making impulse purchases.
Live streaming on WeChat is usually content focused, instead of purely sales focused. Unlike a marketplace, where users would make a purchase mostly due to the discount, the incentive to buy on WeChat store is a lot more driven by the recommendation from the influencer
An influencer like Jiutian, who gives scientific dermatologist recommendation on skin care can have a much higher conversion rate, and help with the acquisition of new customers who would not have considered buying the product otherwise.
Not all good authors can be engaging in live video. Creating good and enticing live-streaming shows takes a whole different set of skill. Some influencers will become great hosts, but some won’t.
A lot of Official Accounts are also not focused on one single influencer. Instead, most accounts are focused on specific topics: bags, skin care, sports, etc. Without the connection to a specific person providing recommendations, live streaming might be less efficient.
The audience focus is also different, the users who are drawn to live-streaming are usually younger and have more spare time. This suggests the conversion rate might be much higher with lower-priced items.
The connection between live-streaming features and WeChat Mini Program could be game changing for brands entering China.
While it might be hard for brands to get sales simply by listing on Taobao or Tmall, the live endorsement of a beloved influencer can be the perfect way to convince a customer to try a new product.
And with almost 50% conversion rate on some campaigns, there is no reason not to try it out!
More on live streaming
Live Streaming in China
Let’s first look at how live streaming works in China.
In order to test it out, I installed the largest live streaming APP in China, Inke, and opened a stream. The stream lasted a few minutes, during which I ate a huge heart-shaped cookie. Nothing remarkable there.
One thing blew my mind: people started donating money. During the few minutes of the stream, I earned 6.69 RMB which I redeemed a few minutes later via… WeChat.
Inke requested me to follow their public account, and sent me my “salary” as a red envelope.
So, how did I make money through live eating a cookie?
- Viewers sent me “digital gifts” (stickers which they paid for and appeared on my screen)
- They mostly did so to catch my attention
- 30% of the money they spent was redistributed to me
- 70% of the digital gifts money was kept by Inke as a commission fee
If my income on this session was modest, it’s not the case for all live streamers. The most active users can make up to $20,000 USD per month through live streaming.
Today, more than 200 live streaming APP’s exist in China. Their features are all very similar, and all of them tend to meet the same urge: a need for connection, acknowledgement and to get rid of boredom.
Who is live streaming?
It will not come as a surprise: although 80% of live streamers in China are female, they make up only 20% of the total user base (according to a survey of 1500 livestreaming hosts conducted by Today’s Internet Celebrity).
That majority male audience makes sense given the origins of live streaming: the industry started with gaming on platforms like YY. When female users started streaming themselves, they received a lot of attention from the gamers. The genius of YY was to introduce digital gifts into the platform in order to encourage and monetize the flirting behavior on the platform, while creating the necessary control mechanisms preventing users from misbehaving.
Viewers are also widely spread across China (source: Talking Data)
- 11% in Tier 1 cities
- 34% in Tier 2 cities
- 55% in Tier 3 cities
Digital gifting is therefore a way for people living in smaller cities to “purchase” access into interactions which would otherwise by inaccessible.
Let’s take a closer look at this market and its main players.
The live streaming market in China
Live streaming in China is literally booming, with a myriad of companies fighting for this space. Here are some of the prominent ones.
- Yinke is the leader in the live streaming market in China. It’s the number one Live Streaming APP in China. As of October 14th, it was just ahead of QQ and below Alipay in terms of downloads on the Apple Store. And trending up.
- Douyu is a competitor to Inke which received investment from Tencent as part of their series C 226 million USD funding round
- YY is a longer-term player in the live streaming world. It also had around 25 million users as of May 2016 but its MAU are stable or declining.
- Panda TV is a similar live streaming APP mostly used for live gaming (similar to Twitch in the West).
Over the last year, these APP’s have seen tremendous traction, with an incredibly aggressive growth strategy from the now market leader, Inke.
Inke stands out by having also a very aggressive revenue generation strategy, taking 70% of streamers income (as opposed to 10% for some of the other platforms), which enables it to re-invest heavily into new users’ acquisition.
How will WeChat streaming impact this space?
WeChat streaming will likely have the same impact in live-streaming space that Facebook live had in the West.
We can make the following predictions:
- WeChat live streaming will not replace existing APP’s like Inke. It will complement it
- WeChat will be used to live stream to your existing following and friends, while Inke will still be used to broadcast to strangers and extend new users acquisition
- The arrival of WeChat in the live streaming space will increase awareness beyond early adopters, and WeChat will actually make the whole live streaming pie bigger, including for Inke and its competitors
- WeChat will make it easier to turn live stream audience into WeChat followers, therefore making it easier to create long-term engagement
What does it mean for brands?
In short, it means that live streaming is big today, and will get bigger tomorrow.
Some brands already saw huge success through live streaming, such as Maybelline which sold 10,000 lipsticks within 2 hours during Angelababy’s livestream.
For consumer products like fashion and makeup, live stream is a perfect channel. But this approach can be extended to other type of products and services. Just keep in mind:
- Stay focused on your users and their comments. Live stream in China is not a webinar: it is a true interactive format where the direction of the conversation should be driven by the audience rather than the presenter
- It might be tempting to try to reproduce Maybeline’s success and sell directly through live streams. This approach won’t work for all industries though. Think up how live streaming can be part of a more complex conversion funnel: take users from live streaming to WeChat and keep educating them and engaging them on the longer term.