WeChat is continuously updating and adding new features. With >1.1B monthly active users, the Chinese dominant platform has already evolved into something much more than a traditional social media platform. It is almost an Operating System.
Consumers see the platform as the source of their entertainment and information, and additionally a channel for purchasing goods from official brand accounts.
Apart from personal use, WeChat is also the go-to-tool for workplace communication. More than 80% of professionals use the platform for work-related matters. As a matter of fact, nobody uses email in China and WeChat is THE main channel for CRM and direct marketing.
Hence, as a first step, we suggest you set up a WeChat Official Account to represent your brand and get in touch with Chinese netizens.
Types of WeChat Official Account: Service vs Subscription account
Which one is right for you?
Before starting the process of opening a WeChat Official Account, here are some basic information you need to know. WeChat Official Account can be categorized as Service or Subscription account, which have different characteristics. There are 3 key differences between these 2 accounts.
For Subscription accounts, you can push content once a day, with a maximum of 8 articles per push. But you can only do so 4 times a month for Service accounts.
With a higher posting frequency, you can keep in touch with your followers and keep them informed about your brand constantly. Also, you can have more exposure. Due to this aspect, Subscription account is recommended for industry such as FMCG. They need more daily exposure to consumers compared to companies providing basic services (i.e. telecommunication, water, banking, etc.).
To put it simply, the objective of a Subscription account is to propagate, while that of Service account is to maintain relationships. With this in mind, it is easy to decide what kind of content is suitable for you.
Since Subscription account is not restricted by posting frequency, you are free to share more content with your followers. However, bear in mind that WeChat users on average read over 5 articles every day. So, to avoid tiring out consumers and maintain their interest, the core of this content should be educational meaningful and insightful.
Showing the right content encourages your followers to share it with their friends, thus achieving the goal of promoting your brand. On the contrary, Service account is more about maintaining customer relationships and communicating with followers. As a result, sales and service-oriented functions are preferred.
Regardless of which type of content your brand choose to focus on, remember to optimize SEO on WeChat to rank high in search results and increase your visibility organically.
Subscription accounts are organized within a folder called “Subscriptions” at the chat level. Your followers would have to click in this folder first to see your content.
Service accounts appear on the same page as the chats with your friends, making it highly visible and easy for followers to find out fresh content.
Process to set up WeChat Official Account for overseas brand
In the past, brands and companies located outside of China can only create an international Official Account. Meaning that these accounts and content were not visible to Chinese users. Good news is starting from 2018 Q3, WeChat removed this restriction and opened the platform to overseas brands. However, this is only applicable to Service accounts.
To apply for a Service account, you would need the following information and USD 50 annual verification fee.
Info from both Applicant/Company and Account Operator
- Full name
- Foreign phone number
Info from Applicant/Company only
- Foreign business license
- Origin of Company registration
- Office address
Info from Account Operator only
- Foreign passport
- Email address
To conclude which type of account is the best for you:
Subscription account is for you if:
- You want to push articles more than 4 times a month
- Your goal is to share informative articles to maintain customer interest and stay top of mind with the audience
- You are fine with using the service of a 3rd party company for their Chinese license to set up the account
- Not being the legal owner of the account is not your concern
Service account is for you if:
- You are service-oriented and maintaining customer relationship is your main goal (direct messaging)
- You prefer your push notifications and articles to be highly visible (seen in the chat level)
- You want to legally own the Official Account
- You prefer to save the cost of employing a 3rd party company
- You plan to develop E-commerce activities
- You need to have access to in-depth analytics
Main evolutions of WeChat in 2019
WeChat is also very active in improving its features and designs to offer a better user experience. We also summarized for you 3 important updates from WeChat in the first half of 2019.
1. WeChat live streaming is now available for Official Accounts
WeChat users can now implement live streaming on their Official Account. Brands can leverage influencers’ credibility and their established relationship with the audience to curate interests about the products and facilitate direct conversion from live streaming.
All you need to do is register a Tencent Live account and connect it with your WeChat Official Account. In the Tencent app, streamers can generate a poster with live stream information embedded as a mini-program code. Then they share the posters as push notifications to their followers.
Viewers can also subscribe to watch the upcoming live stream and receive notifications when it is live by clicking the mini-program code in the poster.
If you want to know more about Mini Programs, here are some insights on how Mini Programs affects your marketing strategy.
How to apply for Live streaming in WeChat?
Live streamers will need to apply for verification by following the Official Account @tencentlive_helper, providing the following required information. This process takes about 3 days.
a) Tencent Live ID
b) Official Account ID
c) Official Account category (i.e. fashion and beauty, travel, automobile, lifestyle, travel and 13 more)
d) Average article views from Official Account
e) Number of followers
f) Screenshot of the Official Account page, clearly showing the number of followers and Official Account ID
g) Personal ID used to register for the Official Account
h) Images of both sides of your personal ID
2. WeChat launched stories feature Time Capsule
This function is quite similar to Instagram, allowing a max. 15-second-long video to have a 24-hour lifespan. On top of text & emojis, WeChat also recommends background music based on the video content.
Your friends can find your Time Capsule on your profile photo, and like or leave a comment by clicking the bubble.
3 ways to leverage Time Capsule:
a. Create a personal WeChat account for your brand
The new personal account can act as a platform for sharing information about your brand. You can create a closer relationship with your followers via this personal account.
b. Start chat groups with followers
Rather than appearing at the top of the feed like Instagram, Time Capsule can be found in Moments and Chat groups. Hence, when you share brand-related content in your group, group members can find your Time Capsule. As a result, it gives more visibility to your content.
c. Share brand-related content on Time Capsule
To share with your followers engaging information about your brand, Time Capsule’s short video format is an entertaining way to do so.
3. Wow feature that boots the viral performance of your content
This can be found at the bottom of an article published by Official Accounts. If a reader clicked Wow, this article will not only appear on their Top Stories section, their WeChat friends will also see it. Moreover, comments left on the article with Wows is also shown to their friends.
How can brands leverage Wow?
a. Encourage your followers to click Wow
This new feature is helpful to your content’s reach and exposure. By encouraging followers to Wow your content, the reach expands beyond the original fanbase of the Official Account. Your follower’s friends will see them in their own Top Stories section as well.
b. Encourage your followers to leave comments on articles
Leaving comments boosts discussions, leading to more engagement. If certain articles or videos receive a lot of comments, it can help spread the article due to the multiplying effect of the Wow feature.