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How to Market on WeChat For Foreign Businesses: Official Accounts

Video Transcription

Hey everyone.  This is Steve from Grizzly Panda Marketing. Welcome back to our how to market on WeChat for foreign businesses series. This is the second video and we are going to talk about official accounts but if you haven’t watched the first video I highly recommend that you check that out first and then come back to this video.

So, in the first video we ended up talking about the importance of getting the right mind-set and the right philosophy of marketing on WeChat and the best way to market on WeChat is to use a lot of content and the best way to distribute content is to use official account.

So, today in this video we are going to talk about the three different types of WeChat official accounts, which one is best for your business and how you as a foreign business owner can acquire this account. So, without wasting anymore time, let’s get started.

Now in WeChat there are actually three different types of WeChat official accounts. There is an enterprise official account, there is a subscription official account and then there is a service official account.

In this video and for the purpose of marketing on WeChat we are not going to talk about the enterprise account as that is purely for communication within large enterprise organizations.

The other two accounts that we are focusing on is the subscription and the service account.  They are very similar but the service account has a lot more features and the purpose for each account is a little bit different which we are going to talk about later but first we are going to talk about what the subscription account is.

There are actually two different types of subscription accounts. There is the individual subscription account and then there is the verified business subscription account.

There are only two minor differences a verified and an individual subscription account. The first one being that in order to get a verified account you must have a verified business.  The second one being that is on the homepage of your subscription account with a verified business you get a little menu on the bottom where with an individual you don’t get that menu.

Now the differences are very small in between these two. It is not something that you really should worry about.  What is more important is to talk about the difference between a subscription and a service account.

So, first the biggest and the most important difference between the two account is where they appear on WeChat so here is the screen shot and this is what everybody sees once they log into WeChat so they see their group chats and other chats that they have with their friends.

The subscription accounts, they are all kind of bundled together within one of the tab called the subscription account tab.  For a business owner wanting to create a subscription account to distribute content you have to remember your account does not show up on the list for the user unless they have followed you first.

So, they must first notice you and then follow you, then your list will show up on the subscription account.  The second key difference and this is actually a very big difference is on a subscription account you can push one content per day where with a service account you don’t actually get to push one content per day, it is actually much less than that.

The last one is with a verified subscription account, now this doesn’t apply to individual.  If you have an individual subscription account that is it that is all you can do.  You can push one content per day but if you have a verified account you actually get these little buttons that you see on the bottom of your subscription home page.

In this case this is H&M China.  They have three little buttons, one says go to their shop, one is I heart H&M, I don’t know what it does, but you get these three little buttons on the bottom which have official home page and then you can link it to wherever you like. Now again this only applies to verified subscription accounts.

Now let’s talk about service account. Service account is actually a lot more robust.  It has a lot more features and the key difference between a service account and a subscription account is where they appear on WeChat.  So again this is a screen shot of the home page but this time we include a couple of service accounts that you can see.

So, first you still see the subscription account in the list of chats but then you see three different service accounts I think maybe even four, I am not sure what Ctrip is but you see four different or three different service accounts that kind of appear as if it is a regular chat to the user.

Now obviously just like subscription account you as a user still have to follow that service account before you see it on the list of your chat but once you do that the service accounts do not show up in the list of subscriptions, instead it shows up as a regular chat so this is one of the key benefits and it is actually pretty cool because anything that you have, any updates that you do on your service account it shows up as a notification right away on their home screen as opposed to somebody has to go into the subscription and then see the updates of the subscription account.

So, another difference like I said is unfortunately with service accounts you cannot push out one content per day. There is a limit of four contents per month.  This is a downside to a service account and in our opinion the only downside to the service account, ever service account has custom menu so again like the verified subscription account you get your custom menu at the bottom of your service account home page.

However, with service account you get multiple tiers of menu.  You don’t only get the three buttons on the bottom but you can actually have one of the buttons to show up more menus.  The more items are used if you kind of clicked on it and go to the page that you want them to got to so again we are going to use the same picture for H&M but this time we are going to show you the second tier menu which is when you click on their H&M shop button which is all the way on the right hand side, the one beside I heart H&M.

When you click on that a menu will pop up and then there is a list of categories and a list of promotions that they have that you can click on which goes to their shop or it goes to H&M China’s website.

So, now we are going to talk about a few features that are only available on service accounts and these are the features that makes service accounts so powerful.

First of all online subscription accounts you get real time push notifications.  What these are is whenever you do an update or you do a push of a content on your service account it will create a notification just like as if your friend has messaged you so for all of us who use smartphone whether it’s android or iPhone, or even blackberries they all have notification that goes on the top so whenever you get emails, whenever you get alerts from certain apps, the notification pops up, tells you that you have received a new message.

So, with the service account every time you do an update even if they are not in their WeChat app, the update gets pushed into that notification list.  This is a really, really cool part about the service account so even with the four contents that you can push every month only, these four contents will get notified even if the user is not looking at their WeChat account.

So, another cool feature is that you actually get a personal Siri now it is not as advanced as Siri iPhone but it kind of does the same thing. Basically with the service account a user can come and send a recorded message just like they would do as their friend and ask questions and then you can have a pre-set of answering message or robotic scripts that will reply them in terms of what they are looking for.

So an example of this is China Bank.  What they do is with their official service account they will allow the user to kind of ask for their bank balance and the user will go into the thing and they will say “well what is my bank balance today?” and the machine will reply back, “it is two thousand four hundred and eighty four.” in a very robotic way but it does the job right.

Another cool thing about the service account is the templated messages.  It is essentially the same thing as voice except there is no voice, it is just message so this is kind of like auto reply emails, just think of it as if you were out of the office you would set an auto reply and if somebody who tried to send you an email did get an automatic reply to tell them that you are no longer in the office for whatever period of time so this is kind of the same except it is a little bit more intelligent so a user can come to your service account and they can type in some question and there is a prepopulated message that will play them accordingly.

So, the last little nugget of this WeChat service account is the ability to actually build and operate an eCommerce store right on WeChat having WeChat to handle all your payment processes for you.

Now the way the magic works is these are actually literally just html and css pages that are hosted by Tencent. Expect that you can only do it on WeChat and the downside is WeChat don’t actually provide any tools to allow you to build these platforms easily. Unless you know how to code the only other alternative is to use another kind of a platform, one of them is call Weidian to kind of build them with drag and drop tools.

So if you ever use Wix or Shopify in the U.S. or Weebly these are drag and drop website builders.  Weidian is essentially the same.  Now Weidian  is not the only platform.  There is actually a couple maybe even a dozen of them out there in China that you can use.  They all charge you a little bit of a fee to bill and manage a WeChat Store for you but once you build it you are literally up and running and you can be selling your products right on WeChat.

Finally, the biggest question we get from all our foreign business owners is which account should you use for your marketing into China and the answer we almost always give is that you should use both if you can.

Now with the correct documentations you can literally set up twenty five different WeChat accounts and you can set them up in however way you want.  You can create some subscription account or you can create a bunch of service accounts although realistically you need on one subscription and one service account so there is really no reason to not set up both unless it is really hard for you to actually acquire an official account which we are going to talk about a little bit later.

But if it is easy for you to get them the best way to do this is to have both accounts and the reason is simple.  Each account, the subscription account and the service account will act as very different parts of your overall marketing strategy on WeChat right.

So if we are going to do a content during strategy we need a part for our distributor content and we also need a part that actually does the promotion.

And here is how we do it for many of our clients.  We always, always use the subscription account to do all the jobbing so if you remember from video 1 jobbing just means delivery of contents.

Because the subscription account is designed in a way to allow you to distribute one content per day verses the service account can only do four the whole month, the subscription account is much more ideal for distributing content.

So, what you really need to do is to have the ability to distribute many different contents throughout a period of time and some of the people are going to love and some of them are going to cause people to follow you, and engage with you and you can build relationship.

And after all of that has been done and after you have built that trust and credibility with user and build up brand awareness and eventually some of them will actually buy and try out your services right.

But without doing all of that the chance of you trying to pitch them on your product and services is very little unless you have a huge brand that is already established so if you are on Apple probably you don’t need this and you probably wouldn’t be listening to this anyway.

So, for the service account is where we do the hooks.  The good thing about the service account like I said is not only you can create an e-commerce platform, you can do automatic servicing that is why it is called a service account, you can answer customer service questions using personalised Siri and templated messages.

Another good thing about the service account is the real-time push notification. Even though a service account can only push four pieces of content the whole month, but these four pieces of content gets pushed onto the notification of the phone.

So, any time you do a promotion after you do all your contents on the subscription account you do your promotion on your service account and if you have done the right job to do all your brand building and trust and stuff the users are more likely to look at your promotion and try your service.

So, this is how we kind of set it up for ourselves and for our clients we use both of the accounts and we use the subscription for the content and we use the service for more of the business and the promotion aspects of things.

Now obviously, the next thing you want to know of the foreign business owners is how the heck are you actually going to set up one of these accounts for your own business,

And the truth of the matter is it is actually really hard, especially if you are a foreign business owner so nothing in China is easy.  China is kind of known for the amount of licence you need to operate anything in China and unfortunately this is also true if you want an official WeChat account.

In order for you to get a WeChat account in China you actually need two pieces of I.D. and these two pieces of I.D. are generally hard to get for foreign business owners.  The first piece of I.D. is you actually need a Chinese business licence that is a registered business in China.

Now this one is not so hard to get. You can actually register your foreign business as a local business in China but there is some cost involved in that.  The second piece of I.D. you will need however is a Chinese I.D. ok so this is a residency I.D. and a citizenship I.D.

Unfortunately, this is something that is really hard to get especially if you are a foreign business and you are a foreign business owner obviously however if you don’t have either one of these I.D. or you don’t have both of these I.D. don’t worry, there are actually three different ways that you can still acquire a WeChat official account without either one of these I.D.s.

Now the first option you have is just to register a company in China.  Now the problem with this is the Chinese Government requires a large amount of investment for you to do that and it takes up to six months.

However if money is not an issue for you and you don’t really care that it takes six months and you’re willing to take the risk just to set up everything just to get a WeChat account then this is a good option to go for.

But if you don’t really want that the second option you have is to really rent a licence from a local Chinese business.  Now the way this works is because any registered Chinese business with a legal licence can actually register up to twenty-five different WeChat accounts.

Now no business in China is actually going to need all twenty-five of these accounts so what they do is they rent it out to foreign business owners that want a WeChat account.

The way it works is you will pay them about five hundred dollars US and the price may vary depending on who you are talking to and they will lend you their licence to create your WeChat account.

Now the good thing about this is with their licence and you create your account you still get to keep your brand name and your logo on the account.  The downside about this is because your account is ultimately still created with their licence that they have the right to remove it any time they want

Which means therefore if for whatever reason they decided that they don’t want to rent their licence to you anymore or they don’t want you to have your account anymore, I don’t know why but for whatever reason these things happen, they can literally call Tencent into their account and close it down because again legally it is under their licence and you don’t have a licence.

So, this means that all the works that you have done, all the content, all the pay advertising and all the followers that you have worked hard to get will be gone.  The third option and in our opinion the best option is really just to go through the Tencent foreign business process.  This costs you about three hundred dollars to verify your business but the downside is not every business gets approved by Tencent.

Now if you want to know if your business is qualified and what it takes to go through the process feel free to send us an email and we will answer any questions you have.

Other than that, this wraps up our second video of how to market your foreign business with WeChat. In the third video, we are going to talk about pay advertisement and how to do pay advertisement on WeChat and how to amplify all the contents you create with your subscription and with your service account.

So, if you have any question about this video still or you want to tell us something that we have not covered in this video or if we made a mistake about what we talked about, feel free to leave us a comment below this video and we will get back to you.  Other than that, that is it.  We will see you next video.


Comments (2)


I have a business based in Australia that exports seafood to China and am interested in creating a business account for the business. I think that our best option is to go through the Tencent foreign business process to get registered, so I was wondering if you could provide any advice on whether the business is qualified and what it would require to go through the process.

Thanks, Nathan.

Hey, Nathan you can go through Tencent foreign business process, all you have to do is follow the instruction. However a foreign only a selective few foreign WeChat official account will have visibility in China. And it could take a year for Tencent to approve you.

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