What is a WeChat Official Account and how does it fit into my China strategy?
Updated: Jan 16, 2019
What is a WeChat Official Account?
WeChat Official Accounts are similar to brand pages on Facebook. They are primarily used for providing information on your brand and products, acting as a crucial content marketing tool and social media link between brands and customers.
Brands can send updates and push notifications to their WeChat official account followers. They also can link to H5 mobile stores within WeChat, though the functions are much more limited than those of WeChat mini-programs.
There are three different kinds of WeChat Official Accounts: service accounts, subscription accounts, and enterprise accounts.
What’s the difference between a service account and a subscription account?
Service accounts are suitable for businesses and organizations that may not send updates very frequently. When users follow a service account, they can receive messages that show up on their main chat interface.
Those running a service account are only allowed to send four campaign messages a month, though these campaigns can consist of up to four articles.
However, service accounts can provide a wider set of services, such as customer service, mini e-commerce stores, and other interactive features. Many merchants use service accounts so that customers with questions can directly contact their customer service teams.
Overall, the functions for services accounts are more broad and comprehensive; you can better track user data and their locations. Such data can provide better insights into your users.
Subscription accounts are designed for media and individual content publishers whose main function is broadcasting content.
Subscription accounts can broadcast one campaign a day, but are hidden in a special Subscriptions folder that aggregates all accounts followed. This is to prevent too much spam from negatively impacting the user experience.
Can foreign companies register for WeChat official accounts?
Service accounts are the only accounts that foreign legal entities are allowed to register for, and are limited for them in that they don’t have API access nor WeChat Pay.
However, as a content marketing tool, service accounts can still be a powerful tool in that they show up in user’s main chat window instead of in a larger folder like subscription accounts.
What foreign companies can do is hire a local agency to set up and manage a WeChat account for them; however, this means that the account would belong to the agency and not them. This method is much quicker, taking around a week for approval.
In comparison, a foreign legal entity registering for a service account may have to wait 2-3 months for approval. For certain countries, Tencent also requests that companies invest in advertising services in order to create an account.
How do WeChat official accounts fit into my China sales strategy?
WeChat official accounts are designed to be official brand pages that reflect your brand's identity and values. It will be the main channel through which your brand communicates with the customer, and should contain relevant, interesting content that aligns with your brand's mission and values.
Now many brands use WeChat mini-programs as their e-commerce store, and use WeChat official accounts for marketing and communicating with the customer. If you're going to sell to Chinese customers with a mini-progam store, you absolutely have to have a WeChat official account to push content to your customers.
1. WeChat official accounts are divided into service accounts and subscription accounts. Subscription accounts are designed for media and can publish content frequently, but are grouped into a folder on the main chat window so are less visible. Service accounts show up directly in one's chat window and are more visible, but can only send on update per week, with each update containing four content posts.
2. Foreign companies can only apply for service accounts at this point. Since brands don't need to send too many updates, we recommend that those entering the China market stick to service accounts.
3. Official accounts are used for content marketing and to educate consumers about the brand. Oftentimes they link to mobile e-commerce stores or mini-program stores, where customers can make a purchase.