Anyone who is involved in marketing to Chinese consumers knows just how important WeChat is to building brand recognition and activating consumer engagement. With China being mobile first and WeChat first, in many ways, we tend to see the WeChat system as a closed loop (i.e. if your not on the WeChat platform itself you can't have access to its content). But there is one way for those of us, who prefer to use our browsers, to check out WeChat posts and articles without being on our mobile device and that is China's 3rd largest search engine, Sogou.
How it works
When you arrive on the sogou.com landing page on your internet browser it will look like any other search engine. Sogou
offers your standard search, news, images, etc. with one exception, an additional tab dedicated to WeChat (微信). When you follow the WeChat link you might be surprised to find that the page you enter looks nothing like what you would find on your WeChat APP. Articles from WeChat accounts are listed out by categories that include most popular / trending, featured, comedy, wellness / nutrition, etc.. And on the right hand side you have listed the top 10 key words.
How the search is different from WeChat
When you are on your WeChat account and you enter a search you are given a set of results that match your behavior on WeChat, starting with contacts, then group chats, then official accounts you follow,and at the end are given a set of articles with your related keywords. Sogou operates differently, it serves as more of a database for information and allows Chinese internet users to identify accounts or WeChat articles with their relevant keywords, skipping past all of the times this term was used in personal dialogues. At present the SEO for WeChat are set by the article quality and the quality of the WeChat account. Based on what we see in both WeChat and Sogou, there is the potential for WeChat to introduce SEO tools brands and companies will be able to use (and pay for) to improve their search rankings.
What's special about Sogou?
In 2013 Tencet acquired a 36.5% stake in Sogou and made them the exclusive search engine with access to WeChat accounts and articles, since then Sogou has become the third largest search engine in China and second largest on mobile. Sogou is also planning to IPO in the U.S. this year at a valuation between 4 and 5 billion USD.
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