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