If you’re interested in the Chinese market & a WeChat Business Account, this is the guide for you.
Companies all over the world are interested in creating a presence in China. One of the best ways of doing this is by using WeChat Official Account for Business. This guide is going to be a little more comprehensive than the others because WeChat is one of the more intriguing messaging apps.
WeChat is just not another messaging app, it’s the super app in China.
If we compare WeChat to other social apps it would a combination of Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Apple Pay, Venmo, Tinder, Flipboard, Bank of America App & App Store – it’s just that powerful.
That list seems ridiculously long and broad, but it is not an exaggeration. You will be able to find people close to you if you use the nearby feature like Tinder. Using top stories you are able to find trending articles just like Flipboard, except WeChat doesn’t scrape the internet, those articles were posted by companies in WeChat.
But perhaps the biggest difference between WeChat and western messaging apps is WeChat Pay.
Because of payments, WeChat does not derive their revenues from advertising, unlike Facebook and Google. Their revenue is generated from transaction charges and the sales of financial products like savings accounts, insurance, and even small loans. Therefore pay per click advertising on WeChat is not especially targeted nor inexpensive.
Unlike other messaging apps, this is a very simple question to answer. If you’re looking to market or to support customers in China or Chinese customers abroad you definitely need WeChat Business.
WeChat is the most commonly used app in China with 973 Monthly Active Users. That means you’ll get access to about 74% of China’s 1.3 Billion people just through one app. Since most of everything can be done inside the app the average user spends about 70 minutes a day on WeChat. In China, the app accounts for 34% of all data transferred over the internet.
However, WeChat Business isn’t just about targeting Chinese users in China. It’s also about accommodating the massive Chinese diaspora around the world. More and more Chinese people are using WeChat to pay around the world. In Japan, the number of stores that accept WeChat pay increased 35x from 2017 to 2018.
There are special WeChat Business accounts designated for business use. Known as the WeChat Official Account, businesses are provided with the WeChat Official Accounts Platform to manage them. There are 3 different types of WeChat Official Accounts: Subscription Accounts, Service Accounts & WeChat Work. Articles on the web usually refer to WeChat Work as Corporate or Enterprise accounts.
WeChat Subscription Accounts and WeChat Service Accounts allow users to build a relationship and communicate with their customers. WeChat Work accounts are to be used as internal company messengers much like Slack. We are going to cover Subscription and Service accounts.
WeChat Subscription accounts are for celebrities or small single individual businesses that need to post a lot of content. Compared to other messaging apps business accounts WeChat Business Accounts have more restrictions designed to stop companies from creating a poor user experience with too many push notifications.
The beauty of the WeChat Subscription Account type is that you can send a mass broadcast once per day. And aside from just messages, you can even post 6 full articles, (blogs in WeChat) as long as you post them all at the same time. This may seem draconian but there is a reason behind the madness. These posts show up in WeChat Moments, roughly equivalent to Facebooks News Feed. WeChat Moments does not prioritize posts it thinks you will like. Moments simply shows posts from your friends and the accounts you are subscribed to in chronological order.
Having more articles posted is better for discovery as the WeChat search function also shows articles that are relevant to your search. If your objective is to get the most content into the WeChat platform as possible, this is the account for you.
Naturally, there are downsides to a WeChat Subscription Account. As shown above, subscription accounts are nested inside a folder on the contacts screen. Therefore a new message would not send this account to the top of your screen like a friend messaging you. But a Service Account can.
WeChat Service Accounts are for small, medium or even enterprise size businesses. Unlike WeChat Subscription Accounts where you can only post, a WeChat Service Account gives you access to many more sales and service oriented functions. This means you are able to open a WeChat store, add your own Mini Programs (WeChat Apps) and access additional WeChat functions.
Another important distinction is that Service Accounts sit on the first level of contacts, you are no longer hidden behind the subscriptions folder. Thus, whenever you send a broadcast, your WeChat Official Account will jump to the top of the contact list. But with great power comes great responsibility and WeChat limits you to 4 broadcasts per month. So make sure to use your broadcasts wisely.
Compared to creating accounts on other instant messengers, things are complicated in China. The Chinese government needs to have control over the companies who can spread information on a mass scale. Thus, registering an Official WeChat Business Account and verifying costs money (~90USD) and requires you to provide documentation. If you’d like to register on your own, the steps are below.
Creating the account itself is rather easy. Start by visiting the WeChat Official Accounts Platform page and click register now at the top.
Selecting an account type is the next step.
We’d advise you to open a service account, which is best of both worlds between supporting your customers and sending them marketing messages.
All you need to do here is provide an email that you’ll be using to log in and manage you’re WeChat Official Account in the future. WeChat will send you a verification code and you’re on to the next step.
The documents required to register your account are slightly different depending on if you are creating an account as a mainland company or as an overseas company.
Provide your identification information. The next step is to provide identification information for the person who will operate the WeChat Official Account and for the company that will own it.
To create your WeChat Official Account you’ll need to provide:
Choose and account name and provide a description. In this section you will create your account name. This will become your WeChat account id so choose wisely, and a short description for your account.
That’s it! You’ve created a WeChat Official Account. Now you’ll be able to log into the WeChat Official Accounts Platform. Once you’re logged into the platform you will receive the following notification.
You won’t be able to send any broadcasts until you verify your account.
Did you think the hard part was over was over? 🙈 Luckily you’ll be able to start the verification process directly from the notification.
Input additional company info. You’ll be asked to include the following information:
Validate the company contact persons information. This section is so the verification staff can contact you when going over your verification documents. You’ll need to provide:
Upload supporting documents. In this section you’ll need to provide supporting documentation for all the information you have provided. Please make sure to scan your documents in color before you upload them, not black and white. (We made this mistake) You’ll need to provide:
Reserve your official account name. At this stage, WeChat will ask you what you want your accounts display name to be. We recommend using optional vocabulary because no additional documentation is needed. If your brand name is trademarked, use the trademark option and upload the relevant documentation. If you’re a news agency, use the media name option and upload your broadcast license.
Pay the fee. Once you’ve gone through the entire process you’ll be asked to pay the fee of $99 USD.
Make sure to enter the bank account information precisely as given or your payment will be rejected. You may encounter a bank fee in this case.
Once you’ve completed all of these steps, you’ll receive a call from a third party agency who reviews the documents. This call will come in 5 to 10 business days. Our agency was located in Chengdu. Surprisingly this call was the least painful part of the process. Their English was good, and they helped us to revise our application to make sure our account was verified.
Now that you have a verified WeChat Official Account it’s time to integrate that to SleekFlow for support and marketing! Read more about that with our guide here.