If you are on this page, you have probably already heard of WeChat, maybe you also have an account (personal or business) but you still have some questions.
Here is a list of frequently asked questions we are asked, and if the answer you were looking for is not here, contact us using the form at the end of the article and we will answer your doubts.
What is WeChat?
WeChat is an app created by tech giant Tencent in 2010, its name in Chinese is “Weixin” (微 信) and was born as a messaging app – especially for voice messages.
Over the years it has evolved into a super app that includes a series of functions, messaging, social media, e-commerce, payments. So it’s technically wrong to just call it social media, especially considering the kind of use it gets.
The platform exceeded one billion users in 2019 (of which just 6 million registered outside China)
What is the difference between a personal account and a business account?
The personal account is a subscription account, to open it just associate your phone number and be validated by an existing account. The account opening is immediate.
Once inside you will find a section similar to the Facebook wall, which is called “Moments” where you can see the posts of others.
Like on Facebook and Instagram, it is possible to publish posts (photos and tests), time capsules, tag friends, but it is not possible to tag brands. Once a post is published, it cannot be edited.
Of course, you can send text or voice messages and send photos and files (like on WhatsApp).
If you are in China, you can link your credit card to make payments, money transfers, purchases. If you are a foreigner and want to use WeChat for your payments, click here to find out more.
In China, personal accounts are often used for business relationships, and WeChat’s QR code scanning has practically replaced business cards.
The company account is called an “Official Account” to open it you need to send a series of documents certifying the actual existence of your company and send them to Tencent. The account opening may take a few days or a few weeks based on Tencent’s requests. Official accounts must be renewed every year, or the system freezes them, and someone else can “steal” your account name.
Official Accounts can be “Subscription” or “Service accounts”. Normally, companies choose the Service account because it allows greater interaction with current customers and prospects, although this type of account limits the publication of articles to a maximum of 4 per month.
The Service account allows you to carry out CRM activities, segment customers based on specific categories, create more direct communication, and possibly associate an e-commerce platform.
Why is it not recommended to use a personal account to promote my brand in China?
The difference is the same as between a personal Facebook page, and a corporate one, the functions of the personal account are quite limited if you want to do business.
First, only Official Accounts give you the exclusive use of your brand name. This means that if you have a personal account called “Apple”, anyone can open an Official account called “Apple” and steal your name on WeChat.
Second, only the Service account allows you to send your updates (new posts) directly to your followers as if they were messages – instead of appearing on their wall among a thousands of posts.
Third, only Service accounts have “Analytics” where you can see the performance of your account and the engagement of your followers.
Fourth, only Service accounts allow direct sales.
I have an Official WeChat account but my follower base is not growing, why?
WeChat official accounts are like private Instagram profiles: only your followers can see their contents.
Unlike Facebook and Instagram, however, there is no “You might like this account” option, that is, the platform does not suggest users to follow new accounts.
In marketing jargon we would say that it is not a “top of the funnel” app, that is, it does not give you great visibility and is not very suitable for making brand awareness. But it is very effective once you have acquired the follower and allows a very high engagement.
Basically, the acquisition of followers depends solely on your efforts.
There are several ways to acquire followers on WeChat:
1. Word of mouth: this is the most popular acquisition method to date.
2. Spread the QR code of your account on all promotional material, physical and digital, dedicated to China: before the pandemic, it was the most popular acquisition method, today it is in the second position.
3. Influencer: it is the most effective way to acquire followers after word of mouth and QR code
4. Sharing articles within communities dedicated to a topic or on magazines that have a WeChat account (or use the existing follower base of an account to promote yours)
5. WeChat Advertising (which follows the same principle as Facebook Adv) Nb: Being so popular, WeChat is also the most expensive platform to promote, on average the cost of acquiring a follower is 4 dollars!
If WeChat is not particularly suitable for Brand Awareness, why should we choose it as social media in China?
The answer is simple, basically, it’s because everyone is there.
WeChat is not ONE social media, it is THE social media. When you find yourself doing business in China, the first thing your customers will ask you is if you have WeiXin. If the answer is no, you are saying you don’t have the only app everyone is in. It’s like saying in the West that you don’t have a website. Indeed, it is more serious not to have WeChat rather than a website in China.
So I’m about to give you some news that will be hard to accept, but WeChat is the basica of your digital communication in China, the must-have to start with.
Obviously, there are other social media more suitable for working on brand visibility, such as WeiBo or RED, or TikTok. But before you venture into new social media, make sure you’ve stabilized your communication on WeChat.
Can I post English content on WeChat?
You can, taking into account that less than 10% of the total Chinese population speaks English.
Communication in (correct) Chinese is undoubtedly more effective and above all communicates to the consumer that you are “making the effort” to speak their language. It is a much-appreciated sign of attention.
Why can’t I use the same Instagram and Facebook content on WeChat?
The first reason is technical: WeChat posts in company accounts are mini-editorials, very rich in text and images, and paginated like a real article, while in Western social networks we only have a photo + captivating phrase.
On Facebook / Instagram you post at least once a day, while on WeChat you have a maximum of 4 articles per week.
Secondly, it is cultural and communicative: a promotional campaign that works well in Europe will never work in China. Consumers respond to cultural, visual, and social inputs that are completely different from those of the Western world.
What is the budget to invest to open a WeChat account?
The opening of the account has a relatively low cost, it is its maintenance that normally requires high budgets, mainly for the creation of complex and captivating contents.
In addition to the management fee for an agency, you must take into account the budget dedicated to follower acquisition, otherwise, you will spend money to generate valid content that nobody sees.
Your budget largely depends on your marketing goals, but if you want to see what the average investment averages for digital marketing in China are, you can click here.
What content is most interesting for Chinese consumers?
Statistically, the most effective posts are the ones that are useful, those that reveal how to do something or give information that your consumers can use.
Videos are more captivating than images, a lively layout is preferable to a minimal one.