Want to learn how to target international buyers, in particular the Chinese?

Harriet Geoghegan is an expert in the Chinese app, WeChat. She helps real estate agents in Australia, leverage this social media channel to tap into Chinese property buyers located both in Australia, New Zealand and back in homeland China.

In this video, I sit down with Harriet and we discuss the fundamentals of getting started with WeChat and how groups and QR codes are key to building a successful WeChat following.

Click below to watch the video.


Following is the video transcript.

Melanie Hoole

Today, I’m with Harriet Geoghegan. She’s a WeChat marketing expert, and today she’s going to talk to us about marketing property to the Chinese.

The people that are on WeChat, so people that live in Australia or New Zealand and use WeChat, are they also on Facebook, or are they a completely different audience?

Harriet Geoghegan

I think it would depend on the age and their demographic and how long they’ve been in Australia. The second generation Chinese are younger, there’d be a lot more familiar to Facebook from their peer group.

But those that have just recently moved here, or older generations, or people that just don’t have as many connections, might have a Facebook account but they never check it because most of their friends and family communicate through WeChat.

If they’re connected to family and friends back home, you would really be living and breathing WeChat, so Facebook might be secondary.

There is definitely a large group of people that aren’t on Facebook as well. But if you come back to thinking about the fact that WeChat gives you an instant translated version of your real estate listing, that can be seen in China, and shared, you’ll see that it’s your digital brochure. One that you can send out without having to print a second brochure in Chinese.

It’s also a huge signal that you’re willing to be open and welcoming to people from a Chinese background or a Chinese culture. And that is really huge. It’s less quantifiable than “Look how many clicks I got on a Facebook ad”. But that relationship building is really what WeChat is all about.

Why ads on WeChat won’t bring in leads and enquires

Melanie Hoole

So there’s no ad platform like we have on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, there’s no way to create ads?

Harriet Geoghegan

There is a way to run ads, they just won’t approve ads for real estate for the most part.

But even if you do run the ads, they’re really great brand exposure, but you’re not going to get a whole lot of enquiries and leads off them, because you don’t have that long established relationship with your potential home buyers. So when we come back to WeChat, and how WeChat is built, it’s direct messaging that is central to the platform.

Melanie Hoole

So the social platforms change continually. Is there anything that you’ve heard that’s coming to WeChat? How often does WeChat change its features and functionality?

WeChat is an app, that hosts other apps

Harriet Geoghegan

So the really interesting thing about WeChat is that any developer can build apps that live in WeChat, and are compatible with WeChat and can be shared. So that means there’s constantly many new apps being added.

In China, if you go to a restaurant, you don’t go up and pay at the till anymore, you scan a QR code on the table, and pay instantly through WeChat. You can also split the bill with all your friends using the apps, whereas these are features that Weston world apps are still developing.

We’re starting to see progress with the use of WeChat in the real estate industry in Australia as well. At its most basic, we have the ability to send messages and chats from agents to potential buyers. Then we have a WeChat official account where that’s a platform for you to host your property listings and write content to share.

We’re now seeing real estate agencies starting to build more interactive apps within WeChat, where you can search for what’s available using a postcode. These more interactive ways to use WeChat take the user experience to the next level and behave a lot more like apps such as domain.com.au or a realestate.com.au.

If you can dream it, you can build it. Some developers are even looking at working in payment functions so that you can put down your 10,000 or 50,000 holding deposits on sales day. I think the way that WeChat has developed from being the most popular messaging platform to being able to do all of these functions that you know, take over people’s entire lives creates a huge amount of stickiness compared to other apps.

One of the ways that we do promote listings successfully is through a series of WeChat groups that we have set up. You can have up to 500 people in a chat group and, among the Chinese community and Australia, a lot of groups have grown and grown based on particular topics and people wanting to have updates from businesses. So, whether it’s investment news, information about visas and migration there’s a lot of groups. There’s now plenty of groups that talk about real estate and property and buying in Australia.

Melanie Hoole

So you have the groups and then your clients advertise into your groups, based on what the topic is or what type of property they’re looking for.

Harriet Geoghegan

Yes, we’ve got over 10,000 people in our real estate groups on WeChat, so if you’ve got a property for sale, and you’ve got a link that’s within WeChat, we will share that link into those groups.

We’ll translate your listing and post it to the groups and say, ‘Hey, there’s this great property. Here’s the home details, here are the agents so you can converse directly with them.’ So that’s a way that we can definitely start growing an agents audience and following for them.

WeChat groups and QR codes help create followers

Melanie Hoole

And should an agent create their own group, if they work in a particular farm area or patch, should they start a group for that suburb?

Harriet Geoghegan

Yes, absolutely, because the most important thing with WeChat is that it’s a long term strategy.

In real estate, we’re really lucky because we can grow a WeChat following quite quickly, because we have signboards that allow us to share our WeChat QR codes all over the neighbourhood.

When you have the WeChat logo and a QR code, WeChat users will instantly recognise them and scan them to follow your brand and read more about the property in Chinese. That can really work well in your local area and is a great way to build up your following and your relationship and your overall reputation as an agent.

People can converse with you and see that you’re willing to meet them where they want to be met, which is on WeChat. And that you’re open to dealing with people that speak Chinese and converse in the way that they do business and better understand Chinese culture, which is really welcoming.

We hear all the time, from agents, that when people tell Chinese prospects that they’re on WeChat, the response is that they’re so excited that you’re willing to embrace their culture and help undertake that transaction on WeChat.

So yes, I’d say absolutely get an official WeChat account and start some chat groups that you can push out your property listings on, and really welcome people to engage with you on WeChat, and over time, you will build that trusted following. You might not get your sales straight away. But you’ll have members in that WeChat group that will have really got to know you, seeing that you’re regularly sharing content, seeing that you’re accessible, and they’ll start inquiring over time.

Melanie Hoole

Well, thank you for all your insights. You’ve got so much information to share and you really know the WeChat platform inside and out. And it’s fantastic that you’ve built this channel. These tools make it super easy for your clients or any real estate agency or developer to get their brand and transactions happening through WeChat. So thank you. Thanks for coming today.

About this video series

Hoole.co’s video series brings together the best digital and social media minds in the real estate industry, to share the wonders of the web and the magic of mobile. Subscribe to Hoole.co or follow us on social media (below) for free tips and tricks to grow your reputation and attract prospects, digitally.

Written by Melanie Hoole

My team and I specialise in helping real estate and property professionals perfect their personal brand, build a first-class digital profile and implement inbound marketing activities to attract leads. If you are unsure which direction to take with your digital marketing contact me for help.

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