Instant Translate

29 Jul 2018

For Those That Don't Know

Launched in January 2011 by tech giant Tencent Holdings, the world's 5th largest value company, WeChat now has 1.1 billion monthly users as at July 2018. Whilst it is starting to make inroads in other Asian and African markets, 90% of those using the app are still based in China.

On face value, WeChat is just like any other messaging app. Like WhatsApp, WeChat allows you to send text and media messages, voice recordings, and make video and voice calls to individuals or groups of contacts. Delve a little deeper and you discover the app offers much more from its messaging platform; location sharing, money transfers, and live GPS tracking. But even this only scratches the surface.

Ordering food, hailing a cab, booking flights, and paying for your coffee are just a few of the daily chores that can be performed through WeChat. Beijing’s courts even allow lawsuits to be filed through the app.

Power of Moments
WeChat has 4 pages: Chats, Contacts, Discover and Me.  When you go to the 'Discover' page, you will see ‘Moments’ right on top.  This 'Moments' page is like your Facebook newsfeeds, it allows individuals and businesses to post content in a Facebook-like feed.  You can post up to 9 photos, videos up to 10 seconds, write articles with up to 5,000 character length and even post url links. 

Note that unlike Facebook, Instagram, Linked-In and Google+, only your WeChat friends can see and comment on what you post in your Moments.  The beauty of this is that WeChat Moments offers very high privacy and the ability to build your 'fan' base through your WeChat contacts.

WeChat Mini Programs
When people asked me how many features does WeChat have, my answer is 'over a million'.  Many people were shocked at this answer, and they asked me where do the one million features reside in.  The answer is simple: more than a million features reside in 'Mini Programs', a page that allows you to access all the mini mobile apps created and synched with WeChat.

WeChat launched Mini Programs in 2017 to much hype and fanfare. Although the concept is somewhat abstract, they are best viewed as apps within an app. Within a year of their launch, the platform already offers 580,000 Mini Programs, according to a statement by Hu Renjie, WeChat Program Director. Per South China Morning Post, there are now a million mini programs on WeChat.

Companies are now able to develop and launch programs that can be accessed within WeChat, allowing users to interact with content, register for loyalty programs and browse online stores without having to switch between apps. This has sparked a new trend, with key opinion leaders (KOLs) building their own content pages where followers can view and purchase sponsored goods directly through the app. Bridging the entire process from content advertising to sales has greatly enhanced WeChat’s appeal as a digital marketing and e-commerce tool.

Tesla's Mini-program
One such Mini Program, developed by Tesla, allows owners of their electric cars to locate charging stations and share information and opinions with other Tesla drivers. In addition, Tesla allows prospective owners to book test drives through their Mini Program.

Official WeChat Accounts 
(Subscription, Service, Corporate)

There are three types of WeChat accounts for companies and brands, catering for everyone looking to use WeChat for business purposes. These are Subscription Accounts, Service Accounts, and Corporate Accounts.

Subscription and service accounts can be verified by WeChat for a small annual fee, giving account holders access to additional marketing and sales features and a greater degree of customization.

Companies without a Chinese business license can apply for an international WeChat Official Account, but these can’t be viewed by Chinese users. Requirements and rules differ for each type of account and are constantly changing. 
Companies without a Chinese business license can also have an agreement with a third-party to register a China official account.

Subscription Account
The subscription account is an ideal way for bloggers and content rich companies to tap into WeChat’s marketing potential. It allows account holders to share one post a day, containing one to six articles. Whilst it allows for frequent content sharing, these messages appear in the user’s ‘Subscription’ folder on their chat list, so the content isn’t visible without the user accessing the folder. A Chinese ID is required to open a subscription account but they are available to companies and individuals alike.

Service Account
The service account is more geared toward product and service-based companies. Whilst service accounts are limited to four messages per month, these appear directly on the follower’s chat list, increasing exposure. Creating a service account also enables WeChat payment and in-app store creation. A Chinese business license, or an agreement with a licensed third party, is required if you want your content to be accessible to Chinese users.

WeChat Corporate Account
Whereas service and subscription accounts enable businesses to access new and existing customers, corporate accounts focus on internal company communication and management tools.  Currently, this is only available for China WeChat accounts, not overseas WeChat accounts.

WeChat’s Search Function
Such is the power of WeChat that the success of one of China’s biggest search engines, Sogou, is dependent on the app. Thanks to Tencent’s investment in Sogou, the search engine boasts the unique advantage of having access to the vast catalogue of WeChat business accounts, Mini Programs, and official content. Sogou works directly through the app and on a stand-alone platform that shows WeChat-related content and general results, such as the company’s LinkedIn profile.

Sogou is important to the development of WeChat as a marketing and commerce platform as it offers users another way to find official accounts, posts that mention the subject or company, and Mini Programs they’re interested in; content which could otherwise be buried in the mountain of official account data.

WeChat for Companies:  How to Make the Most of it?  If you are interested to know what WeChat can do for your business, contact a WeChat Trainer or Consultant.  We at Asia Trainers have run over 115 WeChat classes since August 2017.  Contact Andy at 8201-4347 now or click here