WeChat is a mobile text and voice-messaging app developed by Chinese internet and media company giant, Tencent, in 2011. Its features include messaging, voice and video calls, social interactions, walkie-talkie, cross-platform chatting, as well as mobile games. With average daily users of 570 million in China alone as of late 2015 and still tremendously growing, businesses should not be oblivious to the fact that this is one channel that should not be missed if they want to reach the widest range of their Chinese audience through web marketing.
Your Online Shop in China
In 2012, WeChat developed a special platform contained in the app that allows businesses and organisations worldwide to market their products and services to their Chinese audience. The business account, also known as “Official Account,” was created as a medium for businesses to promote their offerings, interact with customers, and boost their sales.
Regardless of business model, whether you are in the industry of B2C, B2B, or Online to Offline, WeChat can host a wide range of marketing functions for your business to leverage on. Some of the things that businesses can do on the WeChat app include product menu viewing, appointment booking, promo vouchers, membership systems, ordering system, e-commerce, customer feedback, consumer social media sharing, promotional updates, company events and activities, and so much more. The aim of this WeChat marketing platform is for businesses to give better service to existing customers, as well as win over new ones.
It is very easy to apply for and create a WeChat Official Account. However, the catch is, only WeChat Official Accounts created in Mainland China are visible to WeChat users in China. Thus, the best solution for foreign businesses planning to launch their WeChat Official Account for their Chinese audience is to seek an authorised agency that can help them with the technicalities and local requirements in setting up the account. There are several agencies in Singapore that have affiliate agencies in China that can do the job and get you set up.
Steps for WeChat Official Account Registration
1. Firstly, you need to determine whether you want a Subscription account or a Service account. If your business is all about promoting content to your audience, then you should get a Subscription account, which allows you to broadcast messages once daily to your followers, but without push notifications. If you want a more advanced, feature-packed platform, go for the Service account which contains tools to customise your menus and integrate e-commerce which supports payments. The Service account allows you to broadcast messages only once a week, but sends in push notifications to your followers.
2. Next, craft a short proposal to submit to WeChat introducing your business, your intention of how you want to use your official account, which type of account you would like to use (subscription or service), and any other information relevant for them to know. Have your business documents scanned such as official company certificate, business registration, business cards, or any other proof that your business exists legally. These supporting documents will be sent in together with your application form.
3. Create a list of desired names for your WeChat ID. Some IDs might already be taken so it’s best to be prepared with spare ones. You should also think of your desired display name. You will need to indicate this on the application form, along with other basic info and the associated email address for your login. This application form together with all the documents will be sent by the agency to WeChat for approval.
The selection criteria and business verification process is not detailed by WeChat, however, the final approval usually takes about 3 to 4 days, but may vary depending on the volume of applications that they receive. Once your WeChat Official account has been approved, they will be sending in your login credentials and you can start using your account to engage your audience in China!