WeChat Official Account: An Overview & How to Set Up from Overseas?
With over 1.17 billion users, WeChat has emerged as China's top social media platform. This multi-purpose messaging app offers a wide range of functions, making it the perfect social media channel for overseas B2B brands looking to break into the Chinese market.
WeChat Official Account (“WeChat OA”) is a platform within WeChat that allows businesses, organizations, public figures, and individual channels to establish a credible presence to engage with different stakeholders. Due to WeChat’s massive number of users, WeChat OA is considered the essential social media platform to establish a digital presence for most businesses.
The importance of having a WeChat Official Account can sometimes outweigh a Chinese website due to its mobile-friendliness and its open ecosystem that allows seamless integrations with different 3rd-party marketing tools. In 2022, 75% of B2B marketers use WeChat Official Accounts as a primary marketing channel versus only 49.5% relying on their official websites.
For a seasoned marketer, a WeChat official account serves more than a mere content distribution channel, but an all-in-one digital hub that allows the business to reach new customers, build credibility, provide customer services, and generate leads.
In this article, you’ll learn how to choose the right account type, followed by our step-by-step guide to register your company’s WeChat OA, and our top tips to set it up for success.
A Quick Scanning of the Content:
Two Types of WeChat Official Accounts for B2B Brands
There are two types of WeChat Official Accounts—Service Account and Subscription Account. To avoid going through the complicated process of account transfer later, it is important to understand the key differences in order to choose the right account at the very beginning.
Service Account is designed for businesses that are more “service-centric”. Its whole purpose is to allow the business or organization better to serve their followers with easy integration of 3rd-party tools. Unlike Subscription Accounts, Service Accounts can push content directly to the users’ main chat interface, giving the content maximum exposure among its followers. A Service Account can push four broadcasts per month to their followers, each broadcast can contain up to 8 posts.
Key Features of Service Accounts:
High visibility of content: the updates and posts of a Service Account are directly pushed to its followers’ main chat interface.
In-time customer support:
Service Account allows you to send unlimited chat messages within the first 48 hours after a user leaves a message to the account, which can be beneficial for providing timely customer support.
However, if the account misses the first 48-hour window, it cannot reach the customer proactively until the customer leaves a message again. The message restriction policy aims to protect followers from being overwhelmed by too many marketing messages from the account.
More customization options: Service Account offers more customization options, which can be useful for B2B brands looking to tailor their messages and services to followers. Customization options include but are not limited to:
Trackable QR codes
Integrations with other 3rd-party tools like mini-programs
Can be registered by business without a Chinese legal entity
Subscription Account primarily focuses on content promotions, they are designed specifically for content creators and influencers/media who need to keep more frequent content updates.
Brands that focus on thought leadership can consider opening a Subscription Account to keep their followers informed with more regular and rich content. Subscription Accounts can send 1 broadcast message every day to their subscribers, each broadcast can contain up to 8 posts.
Key Features of Subscription Accounts:
Less prominent content updates: Subscription Account doesn’t allow you to directly send push notifications to the followers. They are hidden in a “Subscription” folder and can be viewed when they pop up on the users’ news feed.
Limited customization: Subscription Account offers fewer customization options compared to Service Accounts, which may limit tailoring content to specific business clients. For example, the auto-response feature is not available to subscription accounts.
Can only be registered by business with a Chinese legal entity
Here's a simple chart that outlines the key differences:
How to Register for A WeChat Official Account (OA)
Now you should be familiar with what WeChat OA is and different account types. Next, follow the steps below to register your own account!
Business with A Chinese Legal Entity
Step 1: Prepare your documents
Scanned colored copy of your Chinese business license
Chinese Mainland ID of the account admin with a WeChat Pay account linked to valid bank cards
Contact information of the admin
An authorization letter with a company stamp
300 RMB verification fee
Step 2: Register
Step 3: Choose Account Type
Step 4: Sign up with an email and set a password
Step 5: Get the verification code via email, and activate the account with the code
Step 6: Choose the organization type and registration location
Step 7: Confirm account type
Step 8: Choose the verification method and fill in your company’s information, including company name and registration ID
Step 9: Fill in the Admin’s information
Step 10: Fill in the creator or author information if you are a content creator (optional for business)
Step 11: Fill in the information about your OA, including account name, introduction, and region
Step 12: Finish the verification and complete the registration
Business without A Chinese Legal Entity
Register for Service Account
Step 1: Prepare your documents for company verification
Step 2: Pay the $99 annual verification fee
Step 3: Follow the steps as illustrated above.
Step 4: Choose the Service Account Type (the only type available)
Step 5: Finish the verification, and then you are done!
Set Up A WeChat Official Account for Success
Driving success with WeChat OA requires dedicated efforts including creating engaging content, keeping a regular posting schedule, designing a seamless user journey, providing clear navigation, and much more(basically you can treat it as your company’s website!). Below are the key factors to consider that will set your account up for success.
Content is the key to driving successful WeChat OA operations, the following tips will help you increase your content performance and open rate.
Incorporate diverse content formats
Audiences often have diverse preferences when it comes to consuming content. By offering a mix of content formats such as long-form articles, videos, posters, and infographics, your content will be more likely to cater to a broader audience.
Combining diverse content types will also improve your user experience, keeping followers engaged and interested.
Additionally, diverse content types with specific industry keywords can enhance the visibility of your content on the WeChat search engine.
Focus on delivering values
Although your WeChat OA should serve the purpose of keeping the audience updated about the company news, a large proportion of your content should be designed to focus on sharing educational and valuable insights. Educational content is also a powerful tool to build your credibility and thought leadership by showcasing your deep knowledge in your sector.
Leveraging social hot topics in your posts will make your brand more relevant and responsive to the latest social trends. The timely relevant content will help your OA capture the attention of your target audience and industry peers.
Use eye-catching headline
This strategy will help your OA to attract the potential audience and encourage them to click on your posts and read your content. Here are some common features that make a title more attractive:
Contain numbers, e.g. “7 Easy Ways to Keep Health.”
Highlight benefits or value to the readers, e.g. “Unlock Your Financial Freedom: How to Save Money and Be Debt-free.”
Include action words or call to action, e.g. “Join the Green Revolution: 5 Steps to A Sustainable Future.”
Typesetting & content design:
A WeChat Official Account functions as a robust content hub, rivaling the official websites of B2B brands. However, content design on a WeChat OA is nothing like a website blog post, it requires adapting the text layout and graphics to keep the audience engaged.
In essence, typesetting aims to enhance the readability and attractiveness of our OA posts, effectively keeping the audience's attention on the post and reinforcing your brand image. Here are some tips to apply to your WeChat OA typesetting:
Prioritize mobile-friendly design: WeChat is primarily accessed via mobile devices, so prioritizing responsive and mobile-friendly content design is crucial. You also want to ensure that your content renders well on smaller screens as well.
Simplify Typography: Use legible fonts and keep the typography simple. Avoid using too many font styles or sizes. Stick to standard fonts that are easily readable on mobile devices.
Optimize Headings and Subheadings: Use clear and concise headings and subheadings to break down content and make it easy for readers to read. Consider using a larger font size for headings to emphasize key points.
Maintain Consistency: Consistency in text formatting and typesetting design style for all posts ensures a cohesive and professional brand impression.
Balance Text and Visuals: Incorporate images, videos, and infographics to complement text. Visual content can significantly enhance the reading experience and make text content easier to digest.
Avoid Dense Blocks of Text: Break up long paragraphs into shorter and more manageable chunks. Short paragraphs are easier to read on mobile devices and encourage users to keep scrolling down.
Well-categorized menu bar:
The menu bar is the navigation of your WeChat OA, a well-organized menu bar and content categorization provide users a clear guidance on the content and allow them to discover relevant information and content more efficiently. Moreover, the menu bar can also direct clients to take desired actions such as learning about your company’s offerings or requesting a demo.
You can optimize your menu bar in the following aspects:
Design your menu bar based on a typical buyer journey
Prioritize the most important and frequently accessed content or services
Use clear labels for each menu item
Include key information about the company, products, and resources in the menu bar
Welcome message & auto-reply:
The welcome message is the first greeting the followers will receive from you when they follow your WeChat OA, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to leave a good impression on your followers by designing a smart welcome message! Typically, you would want to include a warm greeting, and a brief introduction of who you are, followed by contact details or a call to action.
The auto-reply feature allows brands to send a customized reply automatically to followers who send messages that contain certain keywords. Think about it as a chatbot that can help you to respond to some basic customer requests. If used effectively, it can significantly reduce the human workload in responding to inquiries, especially during the campaign launch period when request volume is high.
It is clear that WeChat is incomparable to any Western social media platform in its forms and functionality. Setting up a WeChat Official Account is only the first step to building your WeChat presence, a successful WeChat OA that generates awareness and drives business performance requires a well-thought-out strategy tied to your business priority and communications objective. Check out our other blog post Building Your WeChat Official Account Strategy: A 5-step Guide for B2B Brands to dive deeper into this topic.