With over 1 billion monthly active users on WeChat, the platform’s official accounts have become a necessary component of any brand’s China digital marketing strategy. Yet the massive number of official accounts has made it increasingly hard for brands to capture people's attention. In fact, average views on WeChat subscription accounts fell from 12 percent in early 2016 to only five percent in January 2017.
Despite this difficult environment, Y Closet, a Beijing-based fashion startup, managed to break through the noise recently with an innovative HTML5 influencer campaign that ended up going viral on WeChat and was reposted by numerous other WeChat accounts. From format and design to seductive headlines and an unusual influencer choice, Y Closet proved they know what it takes to reach China’s millennial consumers.
Y Closet is a Beijing-based startup that provides a high-end clothing rental service to Chinese consumers. Launched in 2015, their business model is very similar to Rent the Runway, but the concept has been adapted to young Chinese consumers’ shopping habits and unique credit environment.
As of August 2017, they had 1 million users, and were reportedly doubling their customer base every couple of months. Y closet has completed Series C funding valued at 500 million.
Y Closet collaborated with influencer Jiang Chacha on an HTML5 video campaign aimed at educating consumers about their cleaning process. Because the clothing is second-hand, concern about sanitation is one of their largest barriers to new customer acquisition.
So how did Y Closet create a viral campaign out of an incredibly boring topic?
The campaign included several articles from the brand featuring incredibly catchy titles such as “You won’t believe what this post-90s internet celebrity did for money!” and “We spent 20,000 RMB and 168 hours of work just to have an influencer drink water from a washing machine?!” as well as an article from the influencer Jiang Chacha with the titillating heading, “Dear Client, when you told me you wanted to film a video, you didn’t mention it was this kind of video!”
Different to what you may expect, the influencer Y Closet chose for the campaign, Jiang Chacha, is not a fashion influencer, instead, she is a very popular advertising and marketing influencer.
While this may seem odd like an odd choice at first, collaborating with a marketing influencer is an incredibly smart way for Y Closet to reach their target demographic of young, urban, working women in their 20s, since employees at marketing agencies in China tend to be predominantly young females.
Furthermore, Jiang Chacha’s collaboration with Y Closet stood out to her audience much more than if the post came from a fashion influencer who constantly works with fashion brands.
Storytelling is a buzzword in the advertising and content marketing industries, but it is rarely done correctly, in a way that is actually so entertaining that the audience forgets their viewing an advertisement.
But they did it – in this campaign Y Closet created an engaging and humorous story that pokes fun at the influencer marketing industry and client relationships, while also addressing common concerns that people have with their products and services, educating consumers about a boring process in a memorable way.
The premise of the campaign was that Y Closet offers to pay Jiang Chacha 20,000 RMB to film a video where she visits their cleaning facilities and drinks water from a washing machine to prove how sanitary their cleaning process is. She initially refuses, but when they send her 20,000 RMB, she immediately changes her mind.
In her amusing article promoting the campaign, Jiang Chacha self-abasingly jokes that influencers and WeMedia claim to have high moral standards and to only create the best content to serve their audience, but that all goes out the window as soon as they see money.
The primary content of the HTML5 campaign was a video of Jiang ChaCha’s experience at the factory. Instead of a typical landscape orientation, the entire video was shot in portrait format, which is not only optimal for viewing on a mobile device, but also gives it the same feeling as viewing a video on Douyin, a social video sharing platform that is very popular among Y Closet’s target customers.
Despite the competitive environment, viral campaigns are still possible on WeChat.
- Eye-catching headlines are extremely important for WeChat articles. Just make sure you don’t get too sensational or gossipy, or you could risk being shut down.
- Think outside the box when it comes to influencer marketing. Influencers in a completely different industry from your own might actually might be the best way to reach potential customers.
- Loosen up your control and allow the influencer to tell a story in their style that they know will resonate with their audience.
- Don’t get stuck in a rut when it comes to video formatting. Pay attention to trends and use whichever format is most popular with your target audience.