WeChat Official Account – Extensive Guide for Brands in China

With over 1.26 billion active monthly users, WeChat is the most popular social media platform in China and a must-use tool for any company targeting Chinese consumers. If you are a brand looking to break into the Chinese market, you will need a good Wechat marketing strategy, that starts with setting up a WeChat Official Account. This comprehensive guide will show you how to create a WeChat Official account and make the most of WeChat for your business.

What Are WeChat Official Accounts?

You can think of WeChat official accounts (also known as WeChat Business Accounts or WeChat public accounts) as the WeChat equivalent of Facebook’s brand page. So, suppose you’re using a Facebook page for your Western audience. In that case, the WeChat official accounts platform is curated specifically for the Chinese market.

A WeChat Business Account can be opened by either individuals or organizations, like:

  • Celebrities and Influencers
  • Businesses
  • Government organizations
  • Media outlets

Since there are a lot of Chinese WeChat users, the platform is a great entry point for international brands. However, the Chinese market is sensitive to the realness of the accounts they interact with. So, they always prefer to follow WeChat official accounts over any other account to get information or buy products.

What is a WeChat official account

You can use your own WeChat official account to gather followers, create targeted content, redirect to your eCommerce platform, and even send push notifications of your campaigns.

In fact, the WeChat official accounts platform has a lot of features that you can leverage to engage your audience, such as:

  • Use it as a broadcast messaging app to send group messages to your followers
  • Managing your official account’s comments
  • Get analytics on your OA’s performance
  • Individually reaching out to Chinese users using WeChat’s direct-messaging app
WeChat Official account - Louis Vuitton

You have to remember that not all these features are available for each account type. That’s why it’s also essential to consider your business needs and resources when opening an official account for your brand. We’ll discuss what account type fits your business more in the following sections.

Why do you need a WeChat Official Account?

A WeChat business account is crucial for your brand’s success in the market. But you may be thinking, why not just open an ordinary account instead of an official one? The answer lies in the array of features of marketing tools and the level of confidence that you’ll get from your WeChat official account followers.

Moreover, you’re also competing with numerous brands in China that are already using an official account for their business. If you don’t want to be at a disadvantage, then you’ll undoubtedly want to create a Wechat business account for your brand in China.

Official Accounts Are necessary for marketing on WeChat

Official accounts lend your brand an organic channel for growth. Since a Chinese user doesn’t have access to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, you can reach them through their own WeChat account. You can use your official account to promote your product to your audience and even send them notifications of your brand updates.

Another excellent feature for WeChat official accounts is sending messages in bulk. This allows for broadcasting brand updates and getting in front of many followers easier. A regular WeChat account doesn’t have this feature. Bulk messaging is perfect for eCommerce since it enables a more targeted approach to updating your audience.

WeChat Official Account - Lancome
Lancome WeChat business account

Chinese consumers prefer official accounts to get brand Information

As we said before, Chinese users want to engage with real accounts. One way to ensure this is through the check badge WeChat grants to all official accounts. Many users in China prefer to skim through a brand’s WeChat official account rather than go through search engines and find a brand’s website.

WeChat official accounts can act as your substitute for websites. In fact, the official accounts behave like websites where you can find important information like:

  • Your contact details
  • The products you sell
  • Your values as a brand
  • Other supporting content like WeChat articles, images, and videos

While official accounts are mainly used to interact with existing followers, these business accounts still play a role in attracting new followers and increasing the success of your brand on WeChat. Once they subscribe to your WeChat business account, they’ll receive notifications from you for each promotion campaign you initiate for the brand.

WeChat Official Account - Balenciaga example

Types of WeChat official accounts

There are different types of WeChat Official Accounts to choose from. Your options will largely depend on who you are as an organization and the availability of specific types. The two main types of official accounts suitable for brands are service accounts and subscription accounts.

Wechat service account

WeChat service accounts offer a more robust set of perfect features for eCommerce businesses and other service-oriented brands. To enhance your marketing efforts, you can manage customer relationships, add WeChat API integrations, and even collect data from your followers.

Furthermore, verified WeChat service accounts can access more advanced features like WeChat Pay integration and setting up their own WeChat store. These features can elevate your WeChat business accounts’ customer appeal since they make your followers’ shopping and payments easier. Moreover, a verified service account can use other advanced APIs like:

  • Instant customer service
  • Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • Payments
  • HTML pages
WeChat Official Account - Mustela

A WeChat service account is more visible than a subscription account. The higher visibility is thanks to its ability to send out push notifications every time you publish something on your wall. In addition, service accounts can also be seen on your dashboard and are not nestled in a separate folder. This means that your followers will see your WeChat service account more often and interact with it more.

However, service accounts are also limited in their publication, like a subscription account. In fact, you can only publish 4 times a month and 6 articles in each publication, which is far less than what you can publish in subscription accounts.

With features like WeChat Pay, WeChat Store, and allowing users to receive push notifications, the service account is perfect for large businesses with an extensive customer database. The comprehensive set of features of WeChat service accounts even includes building an app specifically for your service. You can even address customer concerns and feedback through a service account which is challenging to do with other account types.

WeChat Service Account features

Wechat subscription account

WeChat subscription accounts are best suited for brands emphasizing content creation and brand communication. For instance, media outlets and magazines use a WeChat subscription account to keep their followers updated on their content. Think about subscription accounts as your users’ daily dose of content, like a newspaper or Facebook’s news feed feature.

wechat official account - subcription account

When a user has a WeChat subscription on your official account, they’ll see your account under the WeChat subscription tab, where your account is lumped together with other subscription accounts. There are no push notifications, so followers won’t know that you posted new content.

You can publish content once a day. There are 6 articles that you can post for each publication. All these updates will be sent to your followers’ subscription folder without any push notifications.

If you’re a content-centric brand or a small business that wants to expand in China, then WeChat subscription accounts are an excellent choice. While WeChat subscription accounts don’t have as much visibility as service accounts, this account type allows you to publish more content for your followers. It’s also important to know that subscription accounts are only eligible for brands with a Chinese business license.

WeChat Subscription Account features

Other types of WeChat official accounts

Apart from service and subscription accounts, which are the ones used for promotion and brand awareness, there are also two other types; WeCom (WeChat Work) and WeChat mini-programs.

Wechat Work is basically a communication tool for companies that want to use it for internal communication. As Chinese people were using WeChat for business and private purposes, WeChat provided a new type of service.

WeChat mini-programs are not exactly public accounts, but a whole system of mini-apps inside WeChat, that are used by companies to promote their brand, post updates, and sell through in-app stores with the WeChat payment option. If you’d like to learn more about WeChat mini-programs, here you’ll find all the information needed.

WeChat Official account - L'Occitane
L’Occitane mini-program (left) and official account (right)

How to create a WeChat business account

Let’s say you finally picked an official account type. The next step would be to create one. Sounds easy, right? However, international brands may struggle to do this since there are some requirements that they have to meet before they can create one. You will need the following documents to register a WeChat official account:

  • Chinese business license
  • Chinese ID with a WeChat Payment Account

Brands with a Chinese legal entity will find it easier to apply for an official WeChat account. They just have to provide a scanned color copy of their Chinese business license, pay RMB 300 as a verification fee, and provide a Chinese ID of someone with a WeChat payment account.

However, most international brands new to the market may not have these documents. So, how exactly can they create their official account? Here are the two alternatives that brands take to complete their WeChat official accounts:

Register a local Chinese business license

First, brands can create a WeChat official account overseas by using a Chinese commercial license for WeChat official account registration. The most viable example of this method would be registering as a wholly foreign-owned enterprise (WFOE). However, this method requires a considerable investment and a very long time to accomplish.

Huge international brands can certainly afford to spend many resources and time to acquire a Chinese business license as a WFOE. On the other hand, if you’re a small brand that wants to expand in China but doesn’t want to spend as much, then we recommend that you look into the second alternative.

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Use a third-party business license

Using a third-party business license for your business account is the most popular option for foreign brands. This is because it’s cheap despite some limitations that come with it. For instance, you won’t be able to handle the account independently. Although the official account name is your brand’s, users will still find the third-party business account name associated with the said official account.

But how on Earth can a local Chinese business open an account for you? The answer is pretty simple: a WeChat account can open 5 WeChat official accounts at most. You will then pay a monthly fee for your WeChat official account that the business is renting for you.

Your own international business license

Another method to open a WeChat business account is using your own license overseas. Keep in mind that this is on a case-by-case basis, so it’s not guaranteed that your WeChat official account registration will be granted by the reviewing committee of the platform.

There are also critical differences between a WeChat official account registered with a Chinese business license and a WeChat official account registered with an international license.

For example, opening a WeChat official account using an overseas license will take as much as 3 months. In contrast, it only takes a week if you use a Chinese business license. Secondly, the annual registration fee for a WeChat official account overseas is more expensive, costing around USD 99.

Reviewing these differences can be pretty extensive and tricky. Our usual recommendation is to find a Chinese business partner that you can work with or register your business in China to open your WeChat official account.

WeChat Official account - Gillette

Steps to create your WeChat official account

Firstly, you have to visit the WeChat official accounts platform to register your account. Afterward, you’ll have to choose which official account type you will use for your brand. You will then have to create a user account and provide an email. This email will receive a confirmation link that you have to click to verify the user account.

And then you’ll need to fill in organization details like:

  • Company type
  • Company name
  • Business license number
  • Bank account information
  • Account administrator’s ID name, ID number, and mobile phone number.

After registration, we advise to go through the verification process on the platform, so that you will get the badge of a verified account, which is crucial for your brands’ credibility in China. After submitting all the documents and paying the verification fee, you just need to wait for acceptance. You can also contact us if you have any problems and need our assistance during the process.

Tips to launch your Official Account

When your WeChat business account is up and running, it’s time to launch your brand and reach out to your target audience in China. There are many ways to do that, like;

WeChat Official account - how to gather new followers

Let’s take a look at some of those options;

Use a QR code

QR codes are great at driving traffic, even in offline channels. This is especially true with a Mainland China citizen who uses QR codes for many things like grocery payments, discovering more product information, and even booking transportation services.

You can stick your QR code on basically anything in your marketing strategies, such as social media networks, brochures, and even product packaging. You can also assign a QR code to your promotional campaigns and discount events.

Create quality content for the Chinese audience

There are many ways WeChat users enjoy quality content from brands. One of them is making sure that the content is specifically designed for your target audience. But how will you know if your content is appealing to your audience?

While there are no absolute measures of quality, there are several things that you can do to create engaging content for your followers:

  • Use of GIFs, stickers, infographics, videos, and other visually-appealing materials.
  • Creating content that meets the three U’s: unique, unusual, and useful.
  • Writing guides, and tutorials, and putting frequently asked questions in your articles.
  • Choosing eye-catching headlines that elicit curiosity and other emotions.
WeChat Official account - Bershka

The rise of short-form videos, particularly Douyin, is also a trend that you need to look out for. You should create content targeted at this niche since it’s likely that WeChat users also consume this type of content. In fact, WeChat Channels is the apps’ take on a short video platform. You can promote your account through short-videos inside the app.

Apply WeChat’s geo-based features

WeChat’s location-based features help brands and businesses in targeting their desired audience. This is very useful for companies that only target people in a specific location like a city or region.

A great application of these features is taxi-hailing services that use a person’s location to find the nearest taxi cab.

Collaborate with Key Opinion Leaders

Your account won’t have a large following initially. It will take some time to establish a solid presence in China. KOLs collaborations are a great way to speed up getting followers since they already have a large base of fans.

You can search for a KOL in WeChat or through a marketing agency and work with them through product placements, product reviews, or just giving your brand a shout-out in their own accounts. Working with KOLs will help you gain credibility in your niche since these people are recognized as subject matter experts in their respective industries.

Of course, a KOL collaboration is a form of paid advertising on WeChat. Hence, it will cost you money to work with them. That’s why it’s crucial to choose a KOL that fits your brand values and key messaging. Don’t just go working with KOLs with the most followers since you might not hit the right market for your brand.

WeChat Official account - Kols

Use WeChat advertising

WeChat advertising comes in different forms, such as:

  • Banner ads
  • Moments ads
  • KOL ads
  • Mini-program ads

Unlike KOL advertising that we mentioned above, banner and moment ads have a more predictable outcome since you pay WeChat based on clicks and impressions.

WeChat advertising - Chanel

Banner ads are displayed at the bottom of a WeChat article of another public account that encourages users to follow your official account. These banner ads will be shown to your target audience. Still, you won’t have absolute control over what specific account these banners will appear on.

On the other hand, Moments ads are advertisements displayed on a user’s WeChat Moments feed which is the WeChat equivalent of the Facebook feed.

Create Branded Stickers

Any brand with a public account can use branded stickers that users can download for instant messaging and interacting with their Moments feeds. Branded stickers are great since they provide a much-needed break from the long lines of text you typically see in WeChat’s instant messaging app and provide a broader range of visual expression.

Creating a branded sticker will help brand recognition and give your public account more exposure since users can see your general account name as the creator of these stickers.

Official account KPIs that matter

Want to know how well your account is performing? Then you should take a look at these key performance indicators that you can access through WeChat public account analytics. Here are some KPIs to gain insight from your OA:

Number of engaged followers

This metric tells you how engaged a follower is. While having many followers is great, it’s useless if a large chunk of them doesn’t engage with your public account. If you like to create more engaging content, you should look at your most engaged followers and determine what’s working for them.

Unsubscribe rate

While all the hype is centered around gaining as many followers as possible, another important metric is keeping your followers from leaving you. It has been observed that the cost of acquiring one new follower is equal to the cost of retaining 15 followers. Therefore, you will be saving more money if you invest in preventing existing followers from leaving your brand.

WeChat Official account - SKII

Journey completions

WeChat Journeys are WeChat’s equivalent to email funnels. Therefore, getting a user to complete a journey means that they are highly engaged with your public account. Having a higher rate of journey completions indicates excellent content and the likelihood of getting sales conversions from your WeChat public account.

WeChat conversions

The last metric, and perhaps the most important one, is WeChat conversions. After all, most businesses aim to convert their followers into buyers or whatever they want them to become. A higher conversion rate means a high-performing public account.

Want to get started with WeChat marketing?

We are a Shanghai-based agency with more than 10 years of experience in WeChat marketing, digital solutions and e-commerce strategies for foreign brands wanting to enter the Chinese market.

Contact Gentlemen Marketing Agency

We offer cost-effective solutions to all brands, depending on their goals and budget. Our team of experts has the experience and know-how needed for your success in China.

We can take care for your WeChat journey, from starting an official account, to influencer collaborations and building your own WeChat store.

Gentlemen Marketing Agency - WeChat services

Don’t hesitate to leave us a comment or contact us so that we can start working on your WeChat marketing strategy as soon as possible. Let’s keep in touch!

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