WeChat: What Is It?
WeChat, aka the ‘Chinese Facebook’, is a very complex yet exciting platform which currently boasts an impressive 621 million active users a day.
On this side of the globe, WeChat is a mysterious platform that a lot of marketers don’t know about, so hopefully, with this article, I can help provide some value.
Before you can even think about any advertising, a WeChat Official Account needs to be created.
What is an official account?
WeChat Official Accounts are the WeChat equivalent of a Facebook page: they are an interface a brand can use to:
- Gather followers.
- Send followers ‘push’ notifications when they post articles.
- Redirect them to a website from the articles.
Most WeChat Official Accounts appear in the “Chat” section of WeChat. This is the section of WeChat which is most similar to WhatsApp/Messenger in the Western hemisphere. Users can then open the account to access a conversation interface where they can either click on push notifications or access information through the interface, as seen below:
How do users find WeChat official accounts?
The most common way of acquiring new followers on WeChat is through WeChat Moments (the WeChat equivalent of the Facebook timeline). Upon clicking on an article you have posted, users can access your account page by clicking the name of your account at the top of the article.
The second most common is through the use of QR codes. WeChat users can scan QR codes (by long-pressing the QR code), which are included in web pages or articles within WeChat, or offline by using WeChat’s embedded QR code scanner.
Also, WeChat contains a search tool for Official Accounts. However, this tool is not very “fuzzy” (you have to write the name of the account fairly accurately) and is not really used for discovery. It is most useful if users are already familiar with your brand and trying to find it on WeChat by typing its name.
Creating a WeChat official account as a company outside of China:
In order to abide by the local regulations in terms of media content, WeChat makes it difficult for foreign companies to create WeChat Official Accounts.
Using your own overseas business license (which you have to go through a special application process to obtain), Tencent (the WeChat advertising platform), has a case-by-case application process for companies wanting to create a WeChat Official Account. It’s a longer application procedure (about 2-3 months), and costs $1,120 USD for the first year and $120 USD for subsequent years (if you apply with WalktheChat, a WeChat marketing agency). However, applying with WalkTheChat has the great advantage of enabling you to create an account entirely controlled by your overseas structure. This process removes the risk of temporarily relying on a third party structure which has control over your followers (reach out via [email protected] to learn more).
Pros of having an overseas business license:
- Your company owns the account legally.
- The account looks more authentic to consumers since the company’s legal name will be displayed on the information page.
- Such account enables overseas companies to run WeChat Advertising.
Cons of having an overseas business license:
- Higher annual verification fee charged by Tencent $99 (instead of 300RMB for a Chinese company).
- Takes 1-2 month to set up.
Advertising on WeChat:
There are three different ways to advertise on WeChat:
- Banner ads.
- WeChat Moments ads.
- Key opinion leader promotion.
General Pricing of WeChat Advertising
WeChat advertising is charged on a CPM (Cost Per Thousand) or CPC (Cost Per Click) basis. According to WeChat, there are three types of impressions:
- When the ad appears in front of a user (whether at the bottom of an article or in moments).
- When the user interacts with the ad (likes or comments).
- When the external link is clicked.
Different geographic locations will also result in different prices.
Core cities: Beijing and Shanghai (The most expensive).
Large Cities: Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Suzhou, Chongqing, Nanjing, Tianjin, Xian, Shenyang, Changsha, Qingdao, Ningbo, Changzhou, Dalian, Xiamen, Jinan, Harbin, Fuzhou, Shijiazhuang, Urumqi, Lanzhou, Xining, Yinchuan, Taiyuan, Hefei, Guiyang, Kunming, Nanning, Lhasa, Nanchang, Changchun, Haikou, Hohhot (Still pretty expensive!).
Also, Tencent will charge a minimal entry fee of RMB 20,000-50,000 for both domestic and foreign companies that want to advertise on WeChat.