How to set up a WeChat Official Account for Businesses and Why it Matters
What is a WeChat Official Account?
- Gain followers
- Send users push notifications
- Redirect users to a website, e-commerce shop or allow them to purchase directly through the app
WeChat Official Accounts appear in the chat list of WeChat along with all your other contact messages. Users can open the official account to access customized information through the bottom menu interface. Push notifications are messages that pop up on the user’s chat and show up at any time when the official account sends a message.
Why are WeChat Official Accounts important for businesses?
WeChat isn’t just a messaging app like WhatsApp or Facebook. It’s an all-in-one app that combines features such as an online payments system, micro-blogging, ride-hailing services, online shops, official company accounts, advertising options, mini-games and more. This app embeds all the most important functions that Chinese people use. In addition, the number of monthly active WeChat users totals 1.05 billion people in 2018. This is a huge potential for any businesses that are looking to attain new clients.
As a mobile application, any information put up on WeChat official accounts can be expected to reach the user sooner as most people have quicker access to a mobile phone than a laptop or PC.
The number one reason why it is important for businesses in China is that it is extremely easy for businesses to open an account on WeChat. WeChat allows businesses to open an account and gain followers at zero cost.
- Companies can post daily updates to the users’ chats in the form of a blog post, video, infographic, or photos.
- Customers can pay for goods and services directly through their WeChat store with one click.
- Companies have access to quality data which they can analyse to optimize their brand.
- Businesses with 100,000 followers or more are allowed to purchase ads and promote their accounts, products, and services further.
Here’s how to sign up for a WeChat Official Account:
First, you need to choose which of the 2 WeChat Official Accounts fits you best before you sign up.
- WeChat Subscription Accounts (订阅号)
- WeChat Service Accounts (服务号)
Which WeChat Official Account fits you best?
WeChat is an essential and outstanding marketing tool for business to enter the Chinese market. Setting up a WeChat official account allows brands to reach out a huge audience and raise brand awareness in an effective way. However, setting up a WeChat official account isn’t as easy as you might expect.
WeChat Official accounts are available to media, government organizations, individual/celebrities, and businesses. Let’s take look at the types of WeChat official accounts: subscription accounts, service accounts, and enterprise accounts.
1. Subscription Accounts (订阅号)
WeChat subscription accounts focus on information and brand communication. They are used much like a daily news feed. They can publish once a day to subscribers and publish1–6 articles each time. All updates are sent to the users’ subscription folder with no push notifications.
Wondering why they limit these accounts to posting only once a day? WeChat search places a high priority on the time that an article is posted. This allows the most recent articles to receive priority. Limiting the number of posts is to prevent accounts from posting incessantly to maintain their position at the top of the WeChat search engine.
Subscription accounts are the only type of WeChat official account that is open to individuals, such as bloggers and celebrities, as the others require a company business license. This type of WeChat official account is most suited to individuals and brands that are content based or information-oriented, such as media publications.
While these accounts can publish more and theoretically bring more users to your account, you have to remember that these accounts are nested in the subscription folder in a user’s contacts, drastically reducing visibility. If you’re looking for a WeChat official account with more visibility read on to the next section.
2. Service Accounts (服务号)
WeChat service accounts offer a lot of interesting features including customer service, API integrations, e-commerce, and CRM. These WeChat Official Accounts offer more robust functionality as compared to subscription accounts. Verified service accounts can also register for WeChat Pay and set up a WeChat Store. After verification, service accounts have access to 9 advanced APIs that enable the brands to create additional apps and functions such as Instant Customer Service, GPS, Payments, etc.
Service accounts can publish up to 4 times per month, with 1–6 articles each time. When the posts are published, the updates appear as push notifications in followers’ chat lists. Compared to subscription accounts, the posting frequency of service accounts is lower, but the visibility is higher due to push notifications.
Again, these accounts are limited in how much they can post as they are the only accounts capable of generating push notifications. If WeChat official accounts were able to spam users with push notifications it would detract from the overall user experience on WeChat. Tencent’s main goal is to keep users on WeChat for as long as possible, so this would be something Tencent definitely does not want.
Service accounts are the best choice for businesses with a large audience or with large customer databases.
I’ve learned the difference between the three so how do I set up a WeChat Official Account?
A WeChat Official Account is a space for your business within WeChat. Registering this normally requires a lot of paperwork and form-filling. We remove this for you by enabling you to an existing and verified WeChat Official Account from ChinaSEO with zero hassle.
Your new verified WeChat Official Account will be registered for you and will be completely owned by you. We do not require your personal or company information at all. We only need the following information:
1. Name of the WeChat Official Account:
2. WeChat Official Account Type: Reading or Service. You can read the differences here.
Important: Please register a personal WeChat account beforehand in order to access and complete the handover process for the WeChat Official Account.
Now if you want to register in the usual process: to register a WeChat official account for most businesses in China, you will need the following:
- Chinese Business License obtained by a local company or WFOE (Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise)
- Chinese ID of a Chinese National with a WeChat payment account
There are 3 options available for overseas companies looking to register a WeChat Official Account
Option 1: Register a company in China
After setting up the company, you’ll have the business license required to register an official account. However, this approach is not recommended as it take a huge amount of time and money to set up a company in China.
Option 2: Use a third-party business license
You can use the business license from another Chinese legal entity to register an account for your company. Each Chinese company can register up to 5 WeChat Official Accounts, so companies with extra slots on their business license are often willing to sell them for extra cash. The price they charge can range from a couple hundred USD into the thousands.
This method does have its risks. Ultimately, the account is tied to the company that provides you with the service, so choosing a reliable provider is absolutely essential. Imagine purchasing an account for a few hundred dollars, investing in promoting the account, only to have it shut down or held ransom by an unreliable partner.
Although the account will be attached to the Chinese legal entity, you can still decide on the details of your account, such as name, logo, and description. The name of the account sponsor would only be found on the information page of the account.
WeChat also allows people to transfer official accounts now, which means you can transfer your account from a third party business to your own company later (if you eventually decide to open a company in China).
Option 3: Use your own international business license
Head to the WeChat Official Accounts Platform to get started applying with your own documents.
WeChat faces a lot of scrutiny from the Chinese government as it controls a huge amount of user data and can easily shape public opinion through its platform. This means they must be incredibly careful with what types of people or companies can register accounts and publish content on the platform. This unique situation has led Tencent to be very strict in its approval of international companies without a Chinese business license.
As of May 3rd 2018, WeChat has begun accepting applications from all foreign countries. However, these applications are processed on a case-by-case basis, so unfortunately it’s not a certainty you’ll be able to obtain an account with your business license.
The process is quite complicated. As an example of what’s required, this is what must be provided by a Hong Kong registered company:
List of Documents Required for HK Company WeChat Official Account Registration
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business Registration Certificate
- Annual Report (If Available)
- ID Card of Intended WeChat Operator/Admin (This should be someone who will be with the company long-term)
- Business Bank Account Number
- Letter from Bank
- Proof of Business Operation (Photos of the Shop/Screenshots of the Website)
- Company water bill or electricity bill or bank letter to prove the BR address
- Recent 3-month mobile phone bill of WeChat operator (The same person who provided the ID)
- Company shareholder information (this is to comply with the national KYC practice for anti- money-laundering)
As you can see this is quite extensive. Reviewing all of this and ensuring everything lines up properly can take quite a lot of time. If you’d like someone to handle that for you and we’ll help you get started!
Have any Questions? Comment below and we can answer your questions.