Ultimate Guide to Wechat Public Accounts

The ‘opening rates’ for public accounts keep sliding down, despite the fact that combined, WeChat and its foreign version reached 1 billion monthly active users. Opening rate of less than 3% is reported in the industry,  and  PLTFRM data reveal that without  any promotion the opening rate of some some content doesn’t even reach 1%. Here, step by step PLTFRM analyzed what users do on WeChat and how to break through the average, increasing the exposure for public accounts.

What is WeChat used for?

As a messenger, WeChat primary aims to help users grow their network. Among reported billion monthly active users, 35% are “deeply involved users”,  spending about 4 hours in WeChat daily, while 45% have more than 200 friends on WeChat, and 13.5% are either very popular or not so picky with the contact list, which reaches 500+ people.

At the same time, WeChat also became a popular office tool, compared to phone calls, QQ, or emails:more than 80% of people reported to use it to get the job done, and 70%+ people do transactions through the app. In last year’s Tencent report, WeChat is said to be used mainly for communication, travel, and payment. Opening a public account to look through often advertising content, clearly is not among the priorities of WeChat users.What are the key functions of WeChat public account?

First of all, not all public accounts are created equally: there are subscriptions and service accounts. WeChat service account is best for businesses and organization that want to access advanced features: you can connect your account to e-commerce platform of CRM system, allowing to activate online shopping, purchase and other notifications, rewarding points, geolocation and other services. Service accounts appear in the dialogues feed, and can send content four times a month.First of all, not all public accounts are created equally: there are subscriptions and service accounts. WeChat service account is best for businesses and organization, that want to access advanced features: you can connect his account to e-commerce platform of CRM system, allowing to activate online shopping, purchase and other notifications, rewarding points, geolocation and other services. Service accounts appear in the dialogues feed, and can send content four times a month.

WeChat subscription account is more media-content oriented, can be updated once per day, and is displayed in the “Subscriptions” section. Because of the closed nature of the app, for example, users can repost, like and comment article released in subscription account, but comments appear only after authorization of account holder. Contrary to other social media platforms, it seems that WeChat aims to stick to a ‘one-way communication’ to not disturb users: on March 12th, the company announced that new registered public accounts won’t have a comments function at all.Why should brands have a WeChat public account?

When a brand decides to have a social media presence in China, WeChat looks the most appealing due to its huge users base, but it might be tricky. On one hand, in terms of followers management, functionality, and convenience, there’s no other platform that can compete with WeChat. Take Family Mart’s public account as an example: the first time a user pays with WeChat in the store and subscribes to the account, the information about every next purchase, including the amount, time, and place are sent to the phone automatically. Through the account, Family Mart also sends information about products and promotions, and gift cards, online store, coupons and other functions create an entire online service environment.

Another example— the service account of Abbotmama: with an online store connected to the account, Abbot has diversified its e-commerce presence and has became a source of reliable information, advising young mothers on giving birth, children games, early-development training and other topics. WeChat provides a powerful followers management tool and the public account can support and grow along with the brand’s development.On the other hand, focused too much on gaining exposure, brands often ignore the very nature of services public accounts are designed to provide. In “WeChat public accounts operational specs” , “External links content management” and other documents Tencent has clearly stated that “methods heavily influencing WeChat moments, groups etc.” are not allowed. There’s a saying in the industry: “All methods of earning quick cash are stated in the criminal law, all methods of quickly growing followers are stated in WeChat’s list of banned activities”. In other words, WeChat does not tolerate spam and other marketing methods, that users hate so much.

How a brand gains first followers? 
Starting from scratch, the three steps to gaining first followers are:1. Set up consumption or usage scenarios;2. Define and attract target audience;3. Activate ‘scan the code to follow’ mechanisms.Let’s retrace the steps of Family Mart and Abbotmama, mentioned earlier. Family Mart integrated a QR code in its offline stores(consumption scenario), and when the customer pays (target audience), the store staff introduces the code (activating “scan the code to follow” mechanism). Abbotmama first set up an official website(consumption or usage scenario), then when a user finds the website through search engine (target audience), on the main page the ‘Mama WeChat Classroom” appears (user is driven by interest to scan the code), and finally, after following the account, a user becomes a perspective brand customer.Acquiring followers through QR-code in consumption or usage set up is the most accurate method: they have a certain information and interest in your brand already and would like to interact/receive more through WeChat account. Now it’s the question of content quality: keep it up, turn your account into a source of useful, awaited information, and fans won’t unfollow your account. The logic and benefits of this process are clear, but why so many brands still hope to gain followers through viral content? Because as clear as the first method is, it also has thresholds, connected to brand establishment itself, while coming up with viral content seems like a cheap shortcut.Starting from scratch, the three steps to gaining first followers are:1. Set up consumption or usage scenarios;2. Define and attract target audience;3. Activate ‘scan the code to follow’ mechanisms.Let’s retrace the steps of Family Mart and Abbotmama, mentioned earlier. Family Mart integrated a QR code in its offline stores(consumption scenario), and when the customer pays (target audience), the store staff introduces the code (activating “scan the code to follow” mechanism). Abbotmama first set up an official website(consumption or usage scenario), then when a user finds the website through search engine (target audience), on the main page the ‘Mama WeChat Classroom” appears (user is driven by interest to scan the code), and finally, after following the account, a user becomes a perspective brand customer.
Acquiring followers through QR-code in consumption or usage set up is the most accurate method: they have a certain information and interest in your brand already and would like to interact/receive more through WeChat account. Now it’s the question of content quality: keep it up, turn your account into a source of useful, awaited information, and fans won’t unfollow your account. The logic and benefits of this process are clear, but why so many brands still hope to gain followers through viral content? Because as clear as the first method is, it also has thresholds, connected to brand establishment itself, while coming up with viral content seems like a cheap shortcut.

 

How to increase exposure of WeChat public account content?

If you put your heart and soul into content, giving it a lot of thought, you want as many people to read it as possible. In a nutshell, views of public accounts content=current followers*opening rate+number of people who’ve seen the article through other channels, for example in friend’s Moments. The simple math of increasing expose is adding new followers(through QR code scan or subscription after reading)+increase opening rate (through appealing titles and quality content)+increase promotion. Let’s get into the details of promotion: to that end, WeChat provides public accounts ads and Moments ads.

In public accounts, the ads will be displayed at the bottom of an article with a mark “promoted content”, and the more views and article gets, the more revenue from the ad it can generate. But before coming to that, to apply for in-account ads, a public account should reach 5000 followers, and the brand (ad owner) undergoes a series of approvals, similar to placing an ad in any other space.

Moments ads appear in user’s feed, the most common format is a photograph or 6s video +wordings. After users click on the ad, they are transferred to another page with more information. This type of advertising has two type of pricing: auction and outright purchase starting at RMB 50,000. WeChat moments ads are put only through a specialized agent.

Aside from promotion methods provided by WeChat, a brand can choose KOL marketing and cooperation with other public accounts. Brands with public accounts targeting similar audiences, but with different content, and with a certain followers base, can dive into cooperation, reposting each other’s content. Usually, one account can cooperate with 7 to 10 other accounts, reposting high-quality content with QR code and information about the “friendly account”.KOL marketing means inviting a “big V”, a KOL with a large following to write up an advertorial with information about the brand’s product, in the end, leveraging the KOL followers base to acquire perspective followers/customers. The success of such campaign depends on the product itself, how much it can interest the KOL followers, and the quality of advertorial itself.

How much should a brand budget for a WeChat promo campaign?

Due to WeChat’s close system, and marketing restrictions mentioned earlier, compared to Weibo, promotional budget in WeChat is much higher. For example, a skilled editor can easily reach the exposure KPI around 500,00 with a RMB 3000 budget. In WeChat, to reach this goal, a brand needs to cooperate with 5-10 rather big KOL, which increases budget up to a million.

Are there hashtags and hot topics in WeChat? 

In the previous article, we’ve mentioned how to increase exposure in Weibo with keywords, and hot topic content. (Long-read | If Weibo Closes, Where Will Brands Put Their Ads?)Does WeChat have similar functions? Sorry to disappoint you, but WeChat is completely different with Weibo. When an article appears on WeChat, only your followers can see it, if they then repost it to their Moments, their friends will see it too, increasing exposure. When the article is out, you can only count on topic relevance, good title, and reputation of the public account, which help to increase opening rate. No additional tools like hashtags or hot topics.What kind of article can get 10,000+ views?

Reaching 10K+ views is, probably, every WeChat public account editor’s dream, made difficult by the close nature of the app itself: the only way an article can be seen is through reposts within the WeChat environment.The problem of “information bubble” which social media create, perhaps, is ever more apparent in WeChat: there’s no chance to see information coming outside of the circle of your friends, family, colleagues too.We’ve analyzed the 10K+ views articles and it’s easy to spot the tendency: the majority are circling the 3B topics (beauty, baby, beast), or so-called “chicken soup for the soul” topics, which is not exactly every brand’s cup of tea.

Steps for maintaining a WeChat public account that subscribers actually read

1.For any social media communication, including on WeChat, keep it in line with overall brand strategy;

2. Define your target audience and account positioning clearly. It’s not advisable to change content or direction/style carelessly;

3. Details matter: font, layout style, quality picture—all set a tone and help to make your content visible. The same content with thought through and poor layout bring very different reading experience.

4.Keep the WeChat public account consistent with brand VI system;

5.Finally, always think about quality and bringing value to the followers. WeChat is a very powerful branding tool when used skilfully, but in the end, it’s not almighty. After all, an editor with a RMB 6000 monthly salary even with best of skills, cannot bring more value than a solid selling point of a good product itself.

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