What is Wechat?
WeChat is China’s most popular messaging app with a monthly user base of more than 1 billion people.
When people exchange contact details in China, you often see one person scanning the other person’s phone. Each WeChat user has a unique bar code known as a QR code. One person can scan the other user’s QR code to add them to WeChat. You can also use a phone number or ID to add a person and search for people nearby.
WeChat is one of the main ways people communicate in China. Even when doing business, people prefer WeChat to email. It’s even more prevalent because services like Facebook are blocked here.
One of the primary uses of WeChat is messaging. Just like WhatsApp, you have a list of conversations that you’re engaged in.
There is also a social feature called “Moments.” Users can upload a number of images or videos and their friends can comment or like the post. It’s the equivalent of a combination of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. However, this feature in Wechat is more private because only your WeChat friends can see your Moments. You can even categorize your friends, choosing whether some of them see the Moments or not.
From major supermarkets to the smallest of street vendors and taxis, you can pay for things with WeChat almost anywhere in China.
As long as you have a Chinese bank account, you can link that to WeChat. As of this writing, foreign bankcards are not accepted, but if you are traveling in China for an extended period you should stop by a bank to open an account you can connect with WeeChat.
There are two ways to pay for something via the app. Firstly, the store can scan your unique WeChat barcode. Secondly, you could scan the barcode of the merchant you are buying items or services from.
In addition to a messaging app, WeChat also can help you to achieve your business through WeChat Official Accounts!
What are WeChat Official Accounts?
WeChat Official Accounts are the WeChat equivalent of a Facebook page. They are an interface a brand can use to:
- Gather followers
- Send them push notifications
- Redirect them to a website/e-commerce
What are the Different Types of WeChat Official Accounts?
- WeChat Subscription accounts (订阅号): can send up to one push message per day and are grouped together in a dedicated folder appearing alongside your friends in the “chat” section of WeChat. Subscription accounts can be created either with a Chinese ID or with a local Chinese business license.
- WeChat Service accounts (服务号): appear as friends in the “chat” section of WeChat. They are extremely visible and have additional features compared to subscription account (in particular WeChat login, WeChat payment and geo-localization). However, they can only post 4 messages per month.
- Enterprise accounts(企业号): are meant for internal management of companies.
- WeChat mini-programs (微信小程序): is a new type of accounts launched in January 2017 by Tencent. They are mostly used for offline applications when user are only meant to use the APP once. They can’t send push notifications. As of March 2017, WeChat mini-programs seem to struggle to get significant traction.
- If the content is the core of your product offering (you are a media, newspaper, magazine, etc.) then Subscription account is the right choice for you
- In most other cases (especially e-commerce cases), Service accounts the right choice as it offers more visibility and features. The fact that the Service account appears as a friend is also particularly useful when sending order notifications and using the account for customer service purposes