Using WeChat Official Accounts as a Foreign Company

17 Comments

We’ve all heard the statistics by now – WeChat is the fastest growing social media platform in the world, there are up to 450 million active users, users read an average of 5.8 articles a day on WeChat, WeChat is now the primary source used by Chinese consumers to follow and interact with their favourite brands, and so on. The question on the tip of most of my client’s tongues now is, how do we get on WeChat? What is the right account type for us? And how do we use it?

I’m going to start with helping you choose the right account for your China marketing objectives.

There are several options to businesses looking to launch a WeChat official account. An official account can be either international or Chinese; subscription or service; verified or unverified. At Qumin, we believe the account of choice for any business is a Verified Chinese Service Account.

International vs. Chinese Account

An international WeChat account differs greatly to its Chinese counterpart – The international official account logs into an English language platform, whereas the Chinese official account uses a Chinese language platform. Most importantly, Chinese WeChat users, defined as anyone who registered their WeChat account using a mobile phone number from China (+86), do not have access to WeChat International official accounts and adversely international WeChat users have access to both Chinese and international official accounts. Additionally only some of the features outlined in the infographic below are available to Chinese official accounts meaning its essential that you decide what you currently want to use WeChat for and also what you may want to do with the platform in the future.

Subscription vs. Service Account

WeChat official account types are further segmented according to available features and the intended use. Official accounts can be either a subscription account (订阅号 or ding yuè háo) or a service account (服务号 or fú wù háo ). In a nutshell, a subscription account allows you to push frequent content to your followers, however your profile sits in a subscription account subfolder and your followers are not sent push notifications upon receiving a post from your account decreasing impressions and reach. On the other hand a service account only allows 4 posts per month, but you get a prominent position amongst other service accounts and the followers’ ongoing conversations with friends and they will receive a push notification upon receiving your post. Further to this, many of WeChats unique features such as CRM, custom menus and We-Websites are only available to official service accounts.

The screenshot below shows official service accounts sitting in my conversations feed with my personal contacts.

Screenshot_2015-01-20-16-50-34

Whereas the official subscription accounts sit below within its own folder.

Screenshot_2015-01-20-16-50-39

Official Account Verification

Verification is only currently available to Chinese official accounts. This is something that Qumin are working closely with Tencent to change for the benefit of businesses outside of China that have services and products desirable to the Chinese consumer. At Qumin we believe that businesses with a brand, service or product that will bring value to consumers in China should have the right to have an official and verified presence on a platform as important as WeChat.

WeChat-Platform-Features_Ryan_V2

This infographic was sourced from WeChat specialists and WeChat customer service console providers, Grata. The original can be found here.

Now you all know the differences between the available WeChat official accounts, I will outline who can open which accounts and how to begin the setup process – 

A foreign company, defined as any company around the world that does not have a legal business entity in China, cannot open a verified Chinese subscription or service account.

A legal entity in China can be anything from; a joint venture with a Chinese partner or a wholly owned foreign enterprise (WOFE), to companies that are part of a Chinese-global conglomerate.

As a foreign company with no legal entity in China, you can open a Chinese official account through a third party such as Qumin. We usually recommend a Chinese official service account, but this always depends on how WeChat will fit into your overall marketing mix.

For WeChat or other China digital marketing enquiries, feel free to contact me on ryan@qumin.co.uk or alternatively visit our website www.qumin.co.uk for more information on our services.

17 Comments on this article

  • Miguel Roberg January 23, 2015

    Hello Ryan,

    Thanks for this update, I wanted to know if I can re-post (with credit) the infographic? Very useful information.

    Cheers,
    Miguel

    Reply

    • RyanQumin January 23, 2015

      Hi Miguel,

      Of course, you are more than welcome to repost the infographic!

      Best,
      Ryan

      Reply

  • Kunlun January 25, 2015

    Nice article, thanks! If one has a WOFE, is it possible to open an account without a Chinese ID?

    Reply

    • Devin January 28, 2015

      “Most importantly, Chinese WeChat users, defined as anyone who registered their WeChat account using a mobile phone number from China (+86), do not have access to WeChat International official accounts and adversely international WeChat users have access to both Chinese and international official accounts.” – Huh?

      Please clarify.

      Is it like this; “As of 2/15, if you do not have (or have the use of) a Chinese business license, you do not have access to the WeChat/Weixin user base within China through a verified official Service Account that has an in-app payment system.” Fear not. Advertising has just rolled out.

      This is my understanding.

      WFOEs currently have commercial (Service) accounts in China but are not allowed into the e-commerce business space. Hmmm you say well this is China. The illegal Variable Interest Entity business organizational structure, that Tencent and others operate under, will change this. By necessity, this change is outlined in the current reform draft.

      Reply

  • Devin January 28, 2015

    “On the other hand a service account only allows 4 posts per month, but you get a prominent position amongst other service accounts and the followers’ ongoing conversations with friends and they will receive a push notification upon receiving your post.” – Please clarify.

    Reply

    • Ryan January 28, 2015

      Hi Devin,

      You can publish 4 articles a month with a WeChat Service account. Businesses usually post high value newsletter style posts.

      Service accounts sit within a followers list of ongoing conversations. You can see in the first of the two screen shots above that KLM and Regent Street both sit within my ongoing conversations with friends. When they publish an article or share a post, WeChat will send me a push notification.

      I hope this helps to clarify.

      Best,
      Ryan

      Reply

  • Simon February 17, 2015

    Hello Ryan,

    Thanks for your great info above. I have just setup my chinese official Wechat service account. I can access my settings on https://mp.weixin.qq.com/ as it is a Chinese account. I was wondering if it existed any english assistance to guide you through the Admin page (as you most probably know, setting up a Chinese weixin service account gives you access to a chinese admin page only). Appreciate your inputs. Cheers – Simon

    Reply

    • Ryan February 17, 2015

      Simon,

      Thank you for your question above.

      Lets take this onto email, I will be able to help you with your request from there. My email is ryan@qumin.co.uk

      Thanks,
      Ryan

      Reply

  • David May 13, 2015

    Hi, I noticed you explained the differences between Service account and Subscription account, but what about the third option, Enterprise?

    Reply

    • Ryan May 13, 2015

      Hi David. Thanks for your question – I am happy to write to you regarding WeChat Enterprise over email. Please drop me a line on ryan@qumin.co.uk. We can pick up the conversation from there. Best, Ryan

      Reply

  • Jim May 25, 2015

    Dear Sir or Mdm,

    I am Jim, marketing manager of premier art fair of South-east Asia. I would like to establish a WeChat account for my company to reach Chinese Art collectors and enthusiasts. How could I go about it?
    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Best Regards,
    Jim

    Reply

  • Jazz July 10, 2015

    Hi there,

    Does one need to pay a once off fee or monthly fee in order to have a verified service WeChat account?

    Thank you so much.

    Jazz

    Reply

    • Ryan July 30, 2015

      Hi Jazz,

      It is a one-off fee. Please let me know if you’re interested in learning more on this.

      Best,
      Ryan

      Reply

  • Slobodan Krajinovic August 7, 2015

    Hello Ryan,

    We are putting all these together at a moment. We probably need something like WeChat as our main communication platform. Any Idea how to start this.

    Regards

    Slobodan


    Slobodan Krajinović

    CTO – DigiMaple Enterprise Data Solutions
    +86-130-2592-8913 | slobodan.krajinovic@gmail.com
    1525 – 4 Xinmin Road, Nanning, Guangxi, 530012 China

    南宁市新民路4号华星时代广场名仕阁1525号

    Reply

  • Jessica August 18, 2015

    Hi Ryan,
    We’re a real estate company in Australia (Brisbane). Our new property development division would like to start a wechat official account to communicate with local (living in Australia) Chinese as well as potential investors living in China regarding property news as well as promoting great investments that we have to offer.

    Is this something that your company can help with?
    Thank you
    Jess

    Reply

    • Ryan October 2, 2015

      Hi Jess,

      Please drop me an email regarding this on ryan@qumin.co.uk and we can pick up the conversation there.

      Cheers,
      Ryan

      Reply

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