Targeting Chinese WeChat users with Official Accounts

Have a non-Chinese business registration, but wish to target Chinese WeChat users?

In our previous article, we dived in on the different types of WeChat Official Accounts available for businesses. In this article, we will share how an overseas business (out of China) use Official Accounts to target Chinese users.

WeChat’s getting popular among business organisations both in and out of China regardless of their size, owing to Official Accounts. With over 10 million WeChat Official Accounts tapping into a massive pool of over 1 billion monthly active users globally, it is with no doubt that this Goliath of a market on a single social channel can be very appealing to businesses.

Think Facebook Business pages but in China.

With the strict restrictions of western social media platforms operating within China, Tencent supplements the business needs and requirements with WeChat to enable consumer-brand interaction.

History of WeChat Official Accounts (OA)

WeChat started around 8 years ago as an instant messenger for mobile, recognising the needs of a growing mobile-centric society and was recognised as a big break from Tencent’s very PC-era social networks such as their famous QQ messenger.

Initially, only known as Weixin (微信) to cater for Chinese users in Mainland China, Tencent identified opportunities to expand globally outside of China. Hence Weixin (微信) is known as WeChat in its English form, derived from the 2 syllables “We” and “Chat” that translate to the purpose and meaning of the social platform.

During the same year of Tencent’s first foray into the global market with WeChat, the tech titan opened WeChat to businesses in both China and the global market. The introduction of WeChat’s Official Accounts enabled businesses to use WeChat as a platform that both intimate and able to establish a direct interaction with Chinese consumers. QR codes were also introduced and brands were able to display their own QR codes at public areas to allow ease for users to follow them on their Official Accounts.

WeChat Official Accounts

There had always been 2 types of Official Accounts since the inauguration in 2012.

  • Mainland China Official Account
  • Overseas Official Account

Mainland China Official Account

The mainland China OA requires a Chinese Business Registration to set up. This is the key Official Account type that international businesses want to have in order to tap into the Chinese market, primarily to Chinese WeChat users. The perks of having this OA is that owners of this OA can enjoy pushing branding content to both in and out of China.

Overseas Official Account

The Overseas OA allows any International Business Registration to set up. However, due to the strict regulations by WeChat, Overseas OA owners are only limited to pushing their content to WeChat users out of China, and hence not able to access the Chinese WeChat users.

Alternative solutions to target Chinese WeChat users 

In spite of the strict criteria of opening China OA to direct targeting Chinese WeChat users, there are still ways that businesses go about to achieve their goal of Chinese market penetration through WeChat.

3rd party media agencies

Many international businesses seek 3rd party agencies who held Chinese Business Registration to open a WeChat China Official Account. The concept is that a verified Official Account is able to open up to 50 sub-accounts, therefore creating the opportunities for non-Chinese Business Registration owners to be able to have a China OA.

However, this alternative solution would soon be rebutted due to WeChat’s initiatives to tighten regulation of contents spread to its Official Account management policy. The announcement to downsize the number of Official Accounts each entity could register was made by the company earlier this year in February 2018, resulting in a drastic change from being able to open 50, to only 5 Official Accounts.

Universal Official Accounts

The launch of Universal Official Accounts will soon provide the convenience and capabilities of targeting Chinese WeChat users despite having an International Business Registration license. This was launched in 42 different markets globally, and the only way to get access to set up Universal Accounts will be via WeChat’s licensed partners and resellers within the individual markets.

Conclusion

China’s economic growth over the recent years can be arguably owing to their technological advancements within the various industries. The concept of big data, e-commerce and a cashless society enabled the Chinese people to greatly increase productivity and have a better future.

WeChat’s involvement in creating all of that convenience for both the consumers and businesses should be recognised as one of the pillars towards China’s economic growth. And with WeChat’s global integration into its resources and creating a bridge for the rest of the world into China, it is bringing unprecedented opportunities for businesses globally.

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