An introduction to WeChat Official Accounts

With approximately 1.151 billion monthly active users, WeChat is now one of the most popular Chinese social media apps in the world. 

The average WeChat users spend around 86 minutes on the app every day, making it an unmissable social platform for international brands who hope to tap into the mass Chinese market. Not only is it one of the most popular messaging apps, but it also provides a number of other popular features and services including Moments, WeChat Pay, WeChat Mini Program, and WeChat Official Account.

For companies looking to set foot into the Chinese market, WeChat Official Account is a good place to start introducing your brand to a Chinese audience. Through this channel, you can engage with your audience and establish influence among key consumers.

So, what exactly is WeChat Official Account and how can brands set one up? This article will be the first of a three-part blog series, exploring WeChat Official Accounts and how marketers can leverage this to enter the Chinese market.

What are Official Accounts in WeChat?

A WeChat Official Account is also known as a WeChat public account, which translates to 微信公众号 in Chinese. Similar to a Facebook Page, it is a public profile which allows individuals or organisations to publish content, attract followers, and sell their products and services. It serves as a communication channel for account owners to influence and engage with their followers. With over 25 million WeChat Official Accounts existing across the platform, its popularity and effectiveness is undeniable.

Types of WeChat Official Accounts 

There are three types of WeChat Official Accounts users can choose from – Service Accounts, Subscription Accounts and Enterprise Accounts (there are also Mini Programmes which we will discuss in a separate blog post). Companies looking to build their brand presence and reach their target audience tend to use Service and Subscription Accounts. On the other hand, Enterprise Accounts are typically used when business are looking to manage and communicate with staff internally. For both Service account and Subscription Accounts, the annual verification will unlock more features and functions.

The diagram and chart below outlines the key differences between Service and Subscription Accounts:

Service Account Subscription Account
Positioning/purpose Service/function-oriented Content-focused
Content – Four pushes per month
– Up to eight articles each push
– One push per day
– Up to eight articles
Enables push notifications No push notifications
Predominant place in the chat feed Inside the subscription folder
Functionality All menu functions available /
more customisations supported
Limited menu functions (e.g. text
message/external links not supported
for unverified accounts)
Advanced application programming
interface (API) and JavaScript
software development kit (JS-SDK)
access to custom functions
development, e.g. ecommerce
(shop, loyalty program), WeChat
Pay, artificial intelligence (optical
character recognition, facial
recognition), geo-data access, etc.
Limited API and JS-SDK access
Overseas business entity Supported Not supported

If you are still unsure about which type of account is most relevant for your brand, feel free to get in touch with our team for a free consultation.

How do you create an account?

Once you’ve decided which type of account best fits your brand’s business goals, here is a simple guide on how to set up your WeChat Official Account:

For businesses with a Chinese legal entity

For a business with an established Chinese entity, setting up an account is relatively simple. Here are some of the required documents and details that you should prepare before registering the account:

  • A scanned colour copy of your Chinese business license
  • ¥300 to pay for the verification fee, either through an enterprise bank transfer or your individual WeChat Pay (a digital and paper invoice will be available after the payment)
  • The Chinese ID of a mainland China citizen with a WeChat Pay account linked to his/her bank card, who will become the main administrator of the account
  • Account name
  • Contact details (a mobile phone number is required, along with a third-party contact to verify the details)
  • A scanned copy of the authorisation letter with a company stamp 

Step-by-step of account set up:

WeChat Official Accounts blog 2

For businesses without a Chinese legal entity

For those who don’t have local entities, the process is naturally more complicated. There are two main options for overseas companies looking to open an account on WeChat:

Use your own business registration certificate

WeChat has recently began allowing foreign businesses without Chinese entities to register for an Official Account using its local entity, also known as WeChat Official Account overseas. To do so, you will need to have the essential documents, payment and other information at hand:

  • A scanned copy of your business registration document
  • Approximately £70 to pay for the verification fee, either through credit card payment or your individual WeChat Pay (a digital and paper invoice will be available after the payment)
  • The Chinese ID of a mainland China citizen with a WeChat Pay account linked to his/her bank card, who will become the main administrator of the account
  • Account name (this cannot be changed unless you apply for WeChat account verification)
  • Contact details (a mobile phone number is required, along with a third-party contact to verify the details)
  • A scanned copy of the authorisation letter with a company stamp (if you don’t have a company stamp, the signature of a company executive is required)

Set up the account through a third-party 

You can also create a WeChat Official Account using a third-party Chinese business license. While this may be a faster and cheaper approach, it comes with some long-term risks and hassles.

Although the application cost is cheaper, using a third-party Chinese business license means the account verification name is not your own, which shows less credibility to your followers. WeChat has a strict rule for business accounts, which requires every official account owner to apply for account verification to validate their entity document. Relying on a third-party comes with more risk and less flexibility.

Here is a table to help you understand the pros and cons of each method:

Use your own legal entity Use third-party Chinese entity
Cost $99 ¥300 (equivalent of $45)
Ownership Owned by you Owned by third-party entity holder
Verification Wechat verification shown as your entity WeChat verification shown as third-party
Functionalities Enjoy same functionalities as Chinese
entity account, apart from four APIs: WeChat
Pay mobile payment, Wechat Store,
Cards and offline device connections
All functionalities
Trademark Can apply for trademark protection No

For more content on WeChat Official Accounts, check out part two and part three of this blog series. If you’d like to learn more about WeChat marketing or speak with someone from our team, please get in touch!

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