You might be wondering, why WeChat? Well, it’s the app that does it all. Messaging? No problem. News, purchases, booking a doctor’s appointment? WeChat has you covered. If you want to reach the Chinese market or Chinese customers abroad, this is the app for you.
WeChat has 1.1 billion concurrent users on a daily basis and is continuing to grow. With 889 million active users in 2016 and an estimated 1 billion users in 2019. You can’t deny it, WeChat is the fastest growing platform in China and it’s the most influential social network out there. If you have a strong presence in China or want to expand your business into the market, WeChat is the social network for you. Here’s how to get started.
Types of WeChat accounts
Subscription-based accounts are among one of the three accounts you can choose from. With this account, you’re able to post once a day with 1-6 articles attached, with the posts are seen in users’ subscription folder with no push notifications, so people won’t be overwhelmed by everyone’s notifications. Subscription accounts are popular among celebrities and small individual businesses that need to post a lot of content, as the other accounts require a company business license. Do be aware, these accounts are for brands that have a lot of information to share, such as media publications.
The appeal of having a subscription account comes from being allowed to post a massive amount of content once a day. This includes messages and articles or blog posts. This might seem impractical, one post a day? Who’s going to see my content? Similarly to Facebook and Instagram’s news feed, WeChat has something similar called “Moments”. Here it shows all the content that you’re subscribed to and doesn’t give priority to things that you liked in the past. Moments show content in chronological order, allowing users to see all the content.
While subscription-based accounts focus on releasing content to users, service accounts might be better for small, medium and in some cases, enterprise businesses. WeChat service accounts are an upgraded version of the subscription accounts, allowing the use of API integrations, e-commerce and customer service. If you’re looking to sell your merchandise, this is the account for you. If you’re a verified service account, which can simply be done in the matter of a few minutes, you can register for WeChat pay and set up your own WeChat store. Additionally, you gain access to more sales and service oriented functions, for example, you gain access to 9 advanced APIs (application programming interfaces), that enable the brands to create additional apps and functions such as instant customer service, GPS, and payments.
Service accounts are permitted 4 posts a month, with the usual 1-6 posts attached to the post and with push notifications. Compare this to the subscription accounts and it may seem like a disadvantage, but thanks to this feature, the visibility of your posts are significantly greater.
To better visualize these two types of accounts, here’s an infographic from Grata.
Corporate accounts aren’t what you think they are. Unlike Service and Subscription accounts, whose main goal is to target consumers, corporate accounts are used mainly for internal communication and management. Corporate accounts are the Slack of WeChat, so if you’re trying to manage your business, perhaps this would be for you. These accounts are not for the public or marketers, people that follow corporate accounts must be verified, internal staff. This includes manually entering their name, phone number, and WeChat ID, giving the owner of corporate accounts more security. Choosing this type of account gives you access to third-party APIs, giving users multiple internal management options, including chat rooms, messaging, conference calls and content sharing.
Creating your account
To create your business account, visit the official accounts platform page. From here, select the register now button as shown below.
You will then be prompted with the different accounts you can choose one of the three accounts talked about earlier: subscription, service, or enterprise.
Your last steps are to enter your information including, phone number, name, company ID, country, account administrator and finally, write a short summary of what your business is about.
There is one more step of verification. You must submit a list of supporting documents such as a business license, signed and stamped application letter and then a $99 USD fee for your account that is billed annually.
After you have your account setup, login and select the “functions” button in the left-hand corner and click “auto reply”. Your next step is to create an auto-reply, but keep in mind that when writing this, you don’t want to overwhelm your customers.
Keywords are another important thing about auto-replies, these can be used by customers to trigger a response. The advantage of this is that some problems could be simple and could be solved without the need for a live support agent.
Maintaining a Customer Chat Log
Nobody wants to repeat themselves, especially to multiple service representatives. With CRM integration in WeChat, you’re able to leave the chat and still access your history at a later date, allowing the previous operator to be assigned to the same customer, reducing the amount of time spent re-explaining problems.
Advertising on WeChat
Your best friend is going to be WeChat moments, this is where your customers will see all of your ads.
If you’re a foreign country outside of China, this is going to be your primary way of advertisement, as banners require an additional application process for foreign businesses.
WeChat Moments is like the Newsfeed section of Facebook. Everything that is posted by friends and followers shows us here. Similarly to Facebook ads, WeChat Moment ads are almost identical, except for the fact that if you click or view the ad, the chances of that person’s friends seeing the ad goes up. This allows for the ad to target a specific group of people, whether it would be by age, gender or even geography.
WeChat ads are similar to ones of website banners, in that they appear at the bottom of articles. Here is a picture presented by Brandingo.
Ads are specified to target users by age, gender, location and the type of account you would like to engage. With these ads, you can prompt users to follow your account, purchase a product, or use a coupon.
While WeChat banner ads are supposed to be limited to Chinese companies, though it might be difficult to advertise using this method, it still is possible. If you are a company in China you will need:
- A registered company in China
- Licenses that prove that justify you advertising a product. (Ex: If you want to advertise clothes, you must provide a licence that shows that you sell clothes)
As for foreign companies that would like to use this method, the process is a bit more challenging. Due to the fact that WeChat is closely monitored by Tencent, you will have to go through a manual application process.
Partnering with a KOL or an influencer
Partnering with a KOL (key opinion leader) or influencer could boost your exposure and sales drastically. Similarly to the way it works in the west, it’s practically the same thing. Influencers on WeChat usually charge a flat fee, result based fee, free products or commission. Make sure you find the right influencer for your product, it could be the difference between nobody buying your product to thousands of customers.
There’s a lot of potential in WeChat, and as it stands right now, it doesn’t look like their business is taking off to the rest of the world. Even though the focus might still be on domestic Chinese business, WeChat has been pulling people away from social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps we’ll see a shift in the market too, but however Tencent (the company responsible for WeChat) chooses to proceed, WeChat will continue to grow, and the business side with it.
Have you considered using WeChat for your business? If you are using it, let us know in the comments how it has worked for you.