Last summer we noted how Western brands like Starbucks and Buick were quick to jump on the messaging app WeChat as a way of reaching out to Chinese consumers. Now Hollywood celebrities are doing the same, with the likes of Selena Gomez, John Cusack, Maggie Q, Paris Hilton, Adam Lambert, and the Backstreet Boys all signed up to WeChat so as to engage with Chinese fans.
WeChat – which has over 300 million users, and is known as Weixin in Chinese – supports verified public accounts, allowing fans to follow in the same way as they can on Twitter or Sina Weibo. But WeChat also has voice and video chats, so these actors, actresses, and singers are sending out voice messages (and maybe videos) to their fans on this platform.
As noted by Digital In The Round blog, who spotted this growing trend on WeChat, the voice messages are pre-recorded and sent out en masse, and it’s unlikely that the stars are running their own WeChat accounts. Nonetheless, it can be a good way to shepherd fans towards the celebrities’ relevant interests – such as to a brand sponsor’s homepage, or to the newest episode of a TV show they’re starring in on video-streaming sites like Youku, Tencent Video, or Sohu Video. Numerous Chinese video sites have lots of licensed Hollywood movies and TV shows, and are arguably more important channels than DVD sales in China (largely pirated), or cinema releases (hampered and delayed by authorities).
That’s why there are also some TV drama stars joining WeChat, such as The Vampire Diaries actress Nina Dobrev.
The celebrities at least seem to be making some effort, with many attempting a few Chinese phrases in their voice messages, and several remembering to send out Chinese New Year greetings over this past weekend. Judging by their WeChat profiles, many of these recent WeChat star sign-ups are getting help from the Fanstang platform, founded by the China Branding Group, which syndicates some Facebook or Twitter content from its clients and translates those into Chinese ready for consumption on WeChat or Sina Weibo.
If you’re on WeChat, you might like to try out following Cusack, Maggie Q, or Dobrev by scanning the QR codes below. Or, to engage with Techinasia and get occasional news tips from us, you can find us on WeChat too:
[UPDATED 12 hours after posting: Adjusted details relating to Fanstang].
(Source: Digital In The Round; Gomez image via AllVoices.com)