How to start a WeChat Official account outside of China
It should come as no surprise that every modern business needs a strong presence on social networks.
However, many people still underestimate the value of the accompanying messenger apps.
An important trend is that consumers are spending more time on messenger apps than the actual social media apps they are connected to. This means that if you want to create an amazing customer experience, you need to offer your customers the option of using their favorite messenger app.
And if your business happens to be active in China, you should put all of your focus into one platform: WeChat.
A lot of people in the West have never even heard of it, but WeChat is by far the biggest social media platform in China. It has an active user base of over one billion people.
I will be blunt here. In order to have any type of online success as a business in China, you don’t stand a chance without using WeChat.
That’s why in this blog, I will go into detail about how to start a WeChat Official account outside of china. I will discuss the following topics:
- What you need to know about WeChat
- How to start a WeChat Official account outside of China
- How to get the most out of your customer service efforts via WeChat
What you need to know about WeChat
WeChat is a social network that was founded back in 2011. It quickly became popular and grew into an app that does, well, everything. It enables shopping, offers government services, connects users to video games, and much more.
WeChat users can make payments, file for divorce (yes, really), play video games, and share holiday pictures. All within the same application. As a user, you could pretty much manage your entire life from within the app.
With such a huge active community and so many possibilities, it is safe to say that Chinese consumers spend an awful lot of time per day on WeChat. Right now it is the fifth most-used app in the world.
This is also the case because, in China, social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter are not allowed. When you want to break into the Chinese market, this means you cannot rely on any of these platforms to attract customers. Since the Chinese consumer are also so used to being able to do anything via WeChat, they also communicate with companies through it.
The status of email in China
Chinese consumers don’t want you to email them. And not because they are getting buried in email like you and me, but simply because they're on WeChat.
In the image below, you can see how much more time people in China spend on WeChat compared to email.
This means that, in order to communicate with your customers in China, you have no other choice but to become active on WeChat.
Some interesting statistics about WeChat
To give you a better understanding of the value of WeChat, I looked up some key statistics on the social network.
It turned out that it is not as easy as you would think to find up-to-date statistical information on WeChat. But what the statistics I did find were impressive nonetheless:
- WeChat is the fifth most-used app in the world
- WeChat claims to have more than one billion daily active users
- 45 billion WeChat messages were sent on a daily basis back in 2018
- WeChat accounts for 34% of all mobile data traffic in China
- There were 17 million active ‘official accounts’ (for businesses) as of late 2017
Let’s also have a look at which e-commerce industries are most prominent on WeChat. This gives you insight into whether WeChat could also be interesting for your business.
As you can see in the image below, back in 2018, women's clothes, cosmetic products, and health products were the three fastest-growing product categories on WeChat.
Fashion also seems to top the list when it comes to content, which means that WeChat is especially interesting for e-commerce businesses that sell clothing.
Advantages of using WeChat for Business outside of China
To round it all up, I have made a short and sweet list of the most important reasons why you should be using WeChat as a customer service tool:
- The app has more than one billion active users
- WeChat provides the best way to connect with your Chinese customers
- WeChat is quickly expanding beyond Chinese borders
How to start a WeChat Official account outside of China
In order to use WeChat for your business, you need to create a so-called Official WeChat Account. Be advised to take some time out of your schedule for this, because registering is more time-consuming than it is for regular social networks.
- First, go to the WeChat Official Accounts Platform. Here, you will need to change the language of the website from Standard Mandarin to English. Unless you understand Mandarin of course.
You can see how to change languages in the image below.
- Click Register.
- Pick a subscription account or a service account. You cannot up- or downgrade later on, so choose wisely.
Difference between a WeChat subscription and service account
To make the right decision, I will give you a quick explanation of the differences between the account types.
WeChat subscription accounts are best used for spreading information and brand communication. With this account type, you can publish once a day to your subscribers. Every post may contain 1-6 articles. You are not allowed to use push notifications.
The reason that you can only post once a day is that WeChat used to be pretty spam-heavy. Their algorithm has a strong liking for relevant information, so the time of posting is very important. In order to prevent everybody from wanting to be on top all of the time, they have imposed restrictions.
WeChat service accounts offer way more valuable features to your business, especially when you are interested in using it as a customer service tool. Users are able to directly message your account to ask you questions. Just as they would on a regular live chat on your website.
You can only post 4 times a month, which is way less than with subscription accounts. However, the visibility of these posts is way better. This is because your subscribers will get push notifications with every post you make.
If you would like to use WeChat for customer service purposes, we advise you to go for the service account.
- Complete the form with basic information and await verification.
- Select your company’s current region.
- Fill in the entity information form. For this, you need an official business license.
- Create a WeChat profile.
- To round everything off, you need to apply for verification. This includes sending a trademark registration, verification letter, and other documents to WeChat.
WeChat has a thorough process in place and leaves no stone unturned. But once you are a verified user, you won’t regret the process that got you there.
Now it's time to learn how to get the most out of WeChat.
How to get the most out of your customer service efforts via WeChat
All your customer communication channels in one inbox
The bar for customer communication is higher than ever.
In this day and age, companies have to be available everywhere. Having a phone number and email is manageable, but what if you also want to be active on WeChat, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp Business, and so on?
How do you successfully manage all of that incoming communication, without having to constantly click from screen to screen and absolutely losing your mind?
Short answer: by using the right helpdesk software. With this, you can receive and reply to all of your incoming messages in one inbox.
Nobody likes chaos, so make sure you prevent it.
Automate your customer service in China
In these modern times, it has become possible to automate a big part of your customer experience. Chatbots can answer frequently asked questions and even collect leads.
This saves your customer service team time and effort that they can put back into creating an awesome customer experience. With Trengo’s chatbot, you can now also automate your customer service via WeChat.
A chatbot has a couple of great features that improve CX:
- It collects leads while you sleep
- It significantly improves your company’s response time
- It is self-learning and gets smarter with every interaction
- It automatically communicates dynamic content from external systems such as order information or product stock
Especially when you are operating from a Western country, the time differences will be quite drastic. If you can’t afford to have customer service employees work during Chinese working hours, you will need to use a chatbot.
How to allow for multiple devices to use one WeChat account
Once you start using WeChat for your business, chances are you will want to collaborate on the incoming questions or complaints with your team.
But can you use WeChat with multiple devices?
Another short answer: yes.
When you use a shared team inbox, your entire team can collaborate on incoming messages. You can discuss specific conversations right inside of the inbox, give messages labels such as ‘urgent’ or ‘complaint’ and assign messages to the right employee or team.
Hiring the right people
When you have all the right software in place to reach your Chinese target audience, you have to find the right employees to manage it. WeChat has over a billion active users, but pretty much all of the communication is done in Standard Mandarin.
This means you will have to hire capable customer service employees that speak Mandarin well and understand the cultural differences.
Create branded WeChat stickers
Aside from the differences in language and culture, there are also some big differences in the way we communicate on instant messaging platforms.
As stated earlier, the Chinese communicate mostly via WeChat. This allows for a more informal approach to communication. In the west, we tend to play it safe with minimum use of emoji’s, if we even use them at all.
But the Chinese use a lot of WeChat stickers in their conversations, even more than emoji. They can choose from a wide variety of stickers that are uploaded by other users, a lot of them are brands. Below, you can see a cool example of this by Starbucks.
Creating your own branded WeChat stickers can make for a cooler customer experience, while it also provides the opportunity to spread your brand if your customers also start using them.
If you plan on entering the Chinese market, or you are already active in it, you need to start using WeChat. It is by far the most popular app for communication and - to be frank - for pretty much everything that goes on in China.
With Trengo, you can manage all your customer communication via all your channels in one inbox. From email and live chat to WeChat and WhatsApp. Try it out for free.