As a global leader in financial services, offering solutions to the world's most important corporations, governments and institutions in more than 100 countries, J.P. Morgan has been doing business in China for over 100 years. Communicating with clients, prospects, regulators and the general public is key to protecting and promoting our firm. Given western social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn are blocked (or have very limited use) in China, we needed to find a new platform to communicate with key audiences in China to support our recruiting efforts, share our firm's capabilities, build our reputation, tell our company story and deepen relationships.
With more than 1 billion users on WeChat reading and engaging with content, using payment methods, and messaging contacts, it was identified as the best platform to achieve our objectives.
J.P. Morgan set out to build a new official company WeChat account, which included completing a robust internal approval process (and external authentication process with Tencent), as well as the infrastructure for retention, escalations and controls.
Once approved and launched, our official J.P. Morgan WeChat account pioneered new territory aimed at supporting business goals and communicating our firm's story. Much thought and strategy went into customizing our channel, content, and interactive features to build a following and enhance our brand awareness in China.
To bring the official J.P. Morgan WeChat account to life our marketing and communications team partnered with legal, compliance, controls, and business leads to develop our procedures and approval process. We developed a unique channel UX, including a custom WeChat menu with easy navigation to explore categories of specific content, a topics-driven video playlist, and auto-direct messages which had customized responses for users based on keywords in their messages to J.P. Morgan. All messages and channel content used simplified Chinese to communicate with the local audience.
The J.P. Morgan WeChat account emulates a digital news magazine style, with long-form articles, videos, and interactive features that drive channel engagement. The key to success for our WeChat platform strategy is consistently writing, producing, and designing interesting content and visuals to drive high organic engagement, especially 'shares' from users, which impacts the content reach and the 'reads' metrics (i.e. 'engaged users') the most. Our team set content pillars aimed at supporting our business objectives and building a followership (while also following unique China regulatory requirements). Our content pillars consisted of equalized content related to: Thought Leadership, Recruiting and Career information, Company News, Events, Sponsorships and Brand Moments (i.e. community giving, cultural moments), and a video series featuring Executive Leadership Interviews. We also built specialized content around key business milestones, including a multi-media campaign celebrating J.P. Morgan's China Centennial, marking 100 years of doing business in the country.
Additionally, we looked to use unique interactive features of the WeChat platform during pivotal moments in time to deepen our relationship with followers. In particular, our Chinese New Year's content made a large impact to our channel following and engagement. In China, it is traditional for people to use paper red envelopes and place money inside to give as a gift to friends and family as a way to say good wishes. Each year J.P. Morgan has a paper version of these red envelopes that clients can use, if they wish. For the 2022 New Year, we brought this concept to our WeChat account for our followers. The interactive capability allowed WeChat users to download digital envelopes with J.P. Morgan branding, add money from their WeChat pay account into the envelope, and send it to their chosen contacts. We designed two separate envelopes, one matching our physical envelopes that we share to clients, and one special edition for the year of the Tiger. Alongside our animated Chinese New Year greeting card, this was amongst our top performing content of the year.
Regarding the performance of our Chinese New Year digital envelopes, within 24 hours all J.P. Morgan envelopes released were claimed by users ('sold out') and within 48 hours we had 12x higher growth in followers than our benchmark. Compared with our peer/competitor group, our envelopes had 3x higher use rate and reach then the next top performer (and nearly 5x higher than the lowest peer performance).
For the J.P. Morgan official company account overall we also saw strong performance across KPIs due to our overall platform and channel strategy. In the first six months of launching our WeChat channel account followership grew +154% MoM, speaking to our strong content production, alongside high engagement and sharing from users on the platform. Within the next 12 months, the account continued growing +59% in total YoY. The average open rate for our J.P. Morgan account is 5x higher than the WeChat official account platform benchmark, with our top content being 18x higher than then the benchmark. Our average 'reads' is 1.5x higher than our next nearest competitor. These metrics speak to our discipline on account content quality: we track and measure performance of everything to tweak for improvement, and often limit what we will publish to ensure a high standard is kept.
Given all the firm’s other social media channels are blocked in China, the launch, growth and success of the J.P. Morgan WeChat account has significant impact and is key for supporting promoting the J.P. Morgan brand and businesses in China.