WeChat is currently the hottest app in Asia. It integrates all the things we love about social media and popular apps like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook and combines them into a powerful communication tool. Since WeChat can be used over Wifi, it’s the perfect way to communicate with international clients, especially those in Asia. Although the bulk of WeChat users live in Asia, the app is growing in popularity throughout the globe, mainly among millennials. Currently, WeChat hosts 1.1 billion user accounts worldwide, with 860 million active monthly users.
As a translator, WeChat is my weapon of choice when tackling barriers that complicate interactions with overseas clients. It has abolished the need to pay international call and text charges, while allowing my business to build a fan base, reach out to new potential target markets, and offer translations in a whole new way.
- Real-time Video
Just like Facetime, the real-time video option allows you to communicate face-to-face with clients. This can be used for conference interpreting, simultaneous interpretation, or even if your client wants to share a clip of a TV show or conversation and get an on-the-go translation from a qualified professional. This also helps maintain the non-verbal aspect of communication, which is of utmost importance when communicating across cultural borders.
- Real-time Audio Clips
One of my favourite features of the app is the ability to send instant voice messages up to 60 seconds in length, a bit like a walkie-talkie. This makes it incredibly easy to help clients by translating audio samples or just chatting about the task at hand.
For example, I’m located in Cleveland, Ohio, but have a client in New York who frequently sends me voice messages that go something like “Bekka, how do you say ____ in English?” And it only takes me a second to respond. This reduces frustration for both the client and the person they’re trying to communicate with. If a non-native English speaker has a hard time being understood, they can simply play the voice clip of me pronouncing the word and the confusion dissipates.
WeChat has a group chat feature that can accommodate ongoing conversations between specific people. This is a great collaboration tool because it facilitates free real-time communication between people anywhere in the world. It’s also a great way to communicate deals, advertise, or reach a niche market without potential clients feeling like they’re being spammed.
I’ve become a member of some local groups which include an art interest group, a school discussion group with over 200 members, and others. Staying involved in the local conversation keeps me informed about issues that are important to the Asian community in my city.
The circles feature is a lot like a Facebook wall—you can share pictures, videos, sound clips, etc. with your contacts and they can either “赞”/”like” or comment on your posts.
Your circle can serve as a virtual welcome room for your business. Post fun pictures of interactions with clients, products, etc. to share your accomplishments with your contacts and stay at the forefront of their minds.
- Verified Accounts
Businesses can create verified official accounts, which allows you to share your location, accept payments, conduct customer surveys, connect to third-party apps, and more. Verified accounts show your potential clients that you represent a trustworthy company and provides even more ways to interact.
- File Sending
A feature that I haven’t seen in many existing apps is file sending. In WeChat, files can be sent right through the app. Share PDFs, DOCs, Power Points, etc. Files can be previewed in the WeChat app or extracted to email, Kindle, Google Docs, or many other apps.
Files up to 25 MB can be sent, or for larger files, you can create a “微云” or “Micro Cloud” account. I’ve used this feature often, for example, to read a lease contract and provide a quick translated summary of the text or answer specific questions about the file for the client.
- Picture Sharing
It’s super easy to snap a pic or use one from your photo library. Clients can take pictures of anything from an item on the Chipotle menu that they aren’t sure how to pronounce, to documents, to items that they aren’t sure the English name of, and I can provide real time answers, or clarify by sending pictures myself.
- International Calling
On most phone plans, international texts and calls can still wrack up a big bill. WeChat has a data-based call feature to which international borders don’t apply. If you’re running low on data, you can use the feature through Wifi to get the same result.
- Nearby People
Nearby People allows you to discover and connect with users within your local area. This is a great way to make casual local connections that can develop into priceless business contacts. It shows all users within a 20 mile range who have their Nearby People set to “searchable”. A lot of people use this feature as a dating app, to make friends in the area, or for language exchange. It can also help you to recruit local people as employees.
I have personally had good luck using this feature to connect with local doctors, students, and researchers who have either made use of my proofreading and translation services themselves, or referred me to their colleagues.
- WeChat Wallet
With WeChat Wallet, you can sync a bank account to easily & safely transfer funds. This is great for receiving payments from clients without having to work around tedious invoicing and payment arrangements. Apple Pay has recently joined as another option in the wallet.
After funds are sent, the recipient can Accept the transfer so you know that everything went through without a hitch. Not cool enough for ya? Through this feature, you can also book a taxi, buy movie tickets, or get group discounts!
- Business Cards
Easily share your “名片” or business card through the app. Users can share your card with friends for referrals and add you to their contact list with a simple tap of the finger. Since growing a company is all about networking and getting your name recognized, a virtual business card can be a great way to circulate your contact info through the right audience.
- Shake to Add
Done with that meeting and wanna keep in touch? Contacts can be added in seconds by simply tapping the “shake-to-add” icon and shaking your phone at the same time as your friend or client. This saves the trouble of scrolling through menu options, remembering complicated user names, and waiting for your request to be accepted. everyone knows that time is money, so anything that saves time is an asset to your business.
- Sync with Other Accounts
WeChat can sync with your other social accounts such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Expand your circle on WeChat to make closer connections with existing clients or to bring in LinkedIn connects for productive communication.
In conclusion, WeChat is quickly becoming one of the most popular apps in the world and its powerful features can help you to boost your business, effectively expand your social network, and reach out to a hidden treasure trove of businesses and potential clients. Find the app on the Apple Store or Google Play Store and get the free download to open up a whole new world of social media!