How to use WeChat for Business

Created by Tencent, WeChat is a Chinese multi-purpose messaging, social media, and e-commerce mobile application. It is currently the most powerful and advanced social network application on the market. WeChat sees over 1.2 billion monthly active users making it one of the most popular social applications in the world. In China, where Western social network platforms like Facebook are banned due to firewall restrictions, users have turned to WeChat as their main social media network and e-commerce platform. The popularity of WeChat is largely due to the diverse range of in app functions it provides compared to its competitors. WeChat houses classic functions such as messaging, e-wallets and QR code scanning, but functions like booking a flight ticket or in-app purchasing really set WeChat apart from the rest. 

Using WeChat for businesses is very appealing due to the opportunities and values a successful WeChat marketing strategy can provide. With no access to other means of westernised social media platforms, WeChat can help foreign companies to promote their brand in a new country. In this article, we have written in detail about the different types of accounts, diverse WeChat functions your business can leverage, and ways your business can use WeChat marketing and advertising to your advantage.

3 types of WeChat official accounts

Creating a WeChat official account not only increases your credibility, it also allows you to stay in control of your brand messaging. Having your own WeChat official account means that you can stay in control of your brand messaging, as well as build and sustain a positive reputation. There are three types of official accounts your business can look into including domestic, international and WeChat Official. We have listed the details below. 

Functions of different WeChat accounts

What are verified accounts?

A verified WeChat account signals trustworthiness and reassurance to your customers. It means that Tencent has gone through a verification process to check the credibility of your business. The verification process proves to users that they are following the genuine account of a business rather than a fake one, which remains an issue in China. 

Which one should you choose?

Many overseas businesses will have trouble obtaining a Chinese business license making it hard for them to create a domestic account. On the other hand, creating an international account is not beneficial to businesses targeting a Chines audience. Therefore, we suggest creating a WeChat official account. Although more expensive and time consuming than its counterparts, the benefits for your business outweigh the cost and time in the long run. 

A note on 'borrowing' legal entities

When it comes to creating a domestic WeChat account, there exists a bit of a grey area where international companies ‘borrow’ local legal entities from third parties. This will mean that your account will have your branding, name, and content, but is technically still owned by the Chinese legal entity. If you decide to open your local Chinese presence a little later down the track, followers can be transferred to your account. 

The issue with this approach is that it very often leads to disputes between the brand in whose name the account was opened and the 3rd party who owns it. What’s more, this kind of setup can have a serious impact on your brand’s success in China as consumers will doubt the account’s authenticity if they see a discrepancy between the account brand name and the legal entity who owns it. We highly recommend all businesses to own their WeChat official account.

How to set up your WeChat official acount

Setting up social media channels for your business in the Western world is usually a very easy and quick process. Creating a Facebook or LinkedIn company page, for example, only takes a few minutes and you can start posting immediately. But as with many other things in digital China, launching your WeChat official account is a slightly more involved process that includes lodging a formal application through Tencent.

While you’re able to prepare and lodge your application for a verified WeChat official account under a foreign business licence on your own, we know that some companies have had issues managing it by themselves. In some cases, they got seemingly minor details wrong in their documentation and had to start again. For this reason, we recommend enlisting the help of a preferred Tencent partner like Sinorbis to manage the WeChat official account creation on your behalf.

Configuring your WeChat account once it has been approved by Tencent

Once you have created your WeChat official account, its important to configure your account in line with Chinese online users’ expectations. Configuring your WeChat menu and setting up auto responses are the main areas you have to consider.

Welcome message:

Your welcome message is a customisable greeting to welcome new followers to your account. Include a brief thank you message, and also add information on what you believe new followers should know and expect from your account.

Keyword response:

Your keyword response sends automated replies to your followers based on phrases and frequently asked questions you can configure based on your business and customer needs. Keyword responses work best when combined with your welcome message. For example, you can direct your new followers to the information that is most relevant to them by explaining what keyword to type for what information.


Displayed at the bottom of your WeChat official account interface, your menu enables users to easily access you branded content and articles. In addition to creating dedicated WeChat posts, we recommend including links to your mobile responsive Chinese website in your menu to allow your follows to explore what your brand has to offer and create synergies between your dedicated Chinese digital marketing assets. Your content should cover the entire customer journey from awareness all the way through purchase and loyalty.

Welcome message and auto response example

What content should you produce?

According to the 2016 WeChat Impact Report, users prefer seeing images, text, and short videos on their feed. Users want simple to read information that is straight to the point. Users are also more likely to share useful, interesting, or emotionally touching content. Keep track of what content appeals to your audience, and in the future, it will enable your brand to maintain a strong connection with your consumers.

Popular content types and formats

When it comes to content creation for WeChat, it’s important to consider what post characteristics will make your followers more likely to share them with their WeChat network. Taking this into account when planning your editorial calendar will increase the chance for your brand to reach a wider audience as your content is created to maximise potential viral effects. 

WeChat users are most willing to share useful, interesting, and emotionally touching content. Images, posts by other WeChat users and short videos are the most popular content formats on WeChat moments. The popularity of posts by other WeChat users highlights the importance of facilitating word-of-mouth and user generated content, for example by running photo competitions or discounts to followers to share their experience with your brand with their network.

Popular content types and formats

Recommended content categories

In addition to diversity in your content types and formats, you will also need to ensure that you’re covering a broad range of content categories in your WeChat official account operations. While the exact content may vary depending on your industry and overall marketing initiatives, there are some basic content types that work across the board. What’s more, these types of posts can be leveraged in your customized menu and keywords response.

Brand information: brand history, story, news and official announcements, product/services introduction and USPs.

Tips: how to’s, step-by-step guides, FAQs, research paper/whitepapers.

Lifestyle information: lifestyle posts that relate to your brand, such as travel recommendations, shopping tips, personal grooming advice, and so on.

Offers: Follower benefits, online/offline promotions and campaigns, special offers.

Community sharing: leverage user generated content about your brand by collating it into a post published on your WeChat official account.

Copywriting and Chinese advertising law

When writing copy for your WeChat account please be mindful of Chinese advertising laws which also apply to your WeChat posts. For instance, using superlative words such as ‘best’ or ‘cheapest’ may in the best case mean that you won’t be able to publish your content, and in the worst case lead to your account being blocked.

For more detailed information on what you cannot post and restrictions that apply to certain industries, please refer to our blog post on Chinese advertising law. 

Content length

WeChat posts are usually between 600-1200 Chinese characters long to accommodate the reading and browsing habits of smartphone users. It will be difficult to maintain your WeChat followers’ focus on posts that are much longer than this – so keep this in mind when you’re writing your post copy.

Choosing the right visuals

As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is certainly also true for your WeChat content. Including powerful visuals in your WeChat posts will make them more engaging and shareable. In addition to this, here are some tips for selecting suitable images for your posts:

  • Images with people in them are more inspirational. If you want to feature your products, showing people using them will create a stronger emotional connection.
  • Whenever possible, try to use image of Chinese people – it will make your content more relatable to your WeChat audience.
  • We suggest limiting the file size in 2MB for each image.

Offer incentives and interactive content for better engagement

Incentives are a very effective way to attract more new followers to your WeChat account and better engage with your existing followers. We recommend running bi-monthly promotions with incentives.

Mixing up your posts with more interactive content also tends to lead to higher views and better follower engagement. This could be as simple as directing questions at your followers, running polls and surveys, or asking followers to submit photos.

Leverage Chinese holiday and popular seasonal events to increase your reach

In addition to regular content creation, you should factor important Chinese holidays and popular seasonal events into your content creation plan. Riding on the social media buzz these happenings tend to generate can help you to further promote your brand and increase awareness for your products or services.

Chinese calendar relevant to social media

When to publish your WeChat posts

Knowing when to publish your WeChat post is also critical to ensure that it’s read and shared widely. While the best posting strategy may vary depending on your industry and post topics (e.g. work-related content may get a better response when published in the morning while entertainment posts may get read and shared more during lunch break or in the evening), below are some generic recommendations, you can adjust based on your target audience and business needs.

The best days to post are weekends (Saturday and Sunday)

The best time to post is early morning (6am to 9am), lunch break (1pm) or late evening (8pm to 11pm)

WeChat official account articles published vs reading rate a day
WeChat official account articles published vs reading rate a week

Here are a couple examples of successful content from brands in the past

1. McLaren Vale

Our very own customer, McLaren Vale has attracted the attention of WeChat users by consistently sharing content users can relate to. McLaren Vale’s content targets Chinese audiences with a passion for wine and love for travel. Based on this knowledge they create content that includes interviews with local KOL’s, the story behind the wine and also information about wine knowledge. By understanding their user and producing content relative to them, McLaren Vale has successfully garnered the attention of wine lovers in China.

Example of McLaren Vale's content

2. Nike women

In the past, Nike has successfully posted WeChat content that included multiple forms of media in one post. It included text, gifs, short videos, and colorful photos, leading to an eye-catching spread for its audience.

Content on Nike's WeChat account

3. Airbnb

In 2018, Airbnb released a WeChat campaign titled “Celebrate it My Way”. This campaign focused on 6 Chinese celebrities and KOLs to invite their parents to travel overseas with them over the Chinese New Year holidays instead of spending the days in the traditional way. Over the course of the campaign, snippets of the trip were featured on Airbnb’s official WeChat account.

Airbnb's WeChat campaign

Paid alternatives

Once you have created a few months worth of content for your WeChat official account, you may want to start looking into some paid promotional options to increase your followers and reach. We usually don’t advise this at the beginning as there needs to be enough interesting content available for your views to want to follow your WeChat official account.

WeChat advertising is made specifically for businesses to display promotional material on a user’s timeline to gain brand awareness. There are several reasons why you would want to run a WeChat campaign, this includes:

- Brand Awareness

- Follower Acquisition

- Lead generation

There are many paid advertising strategies you can implement for you business including WeChat banner advertising, WeChat moments and key opinion leader promotion. 

1. WeChat banner advertising

These advertisement banners are similar to ad banners on a website. Banners appear at the bottom of WeChat official account articles. The purpose of banner ads is to drive users to follow an official account, download an app, or purchase a product.

2. WeChat moments advertising

WeChat moments are similar to a users Facebook newsfeed where advertisements blends in with user generated posts. Brands are able to choose between a post or video format that allows it to be highly interactive and engaging for users. Advertisers are able to change the target audience parameters in order to target the right group of people. Unlike Facebook, WeChat has put very strict limits to the amount of advertising users will receive on their Moments feed. This means that Moments ads tend to get quite good engagement.

3. Key opinion leader (KOL) promotion

Key opinion leaders are celebrities or famous users that have earned the trust of their audience. To the public, they are seen as a source of information in that sector and can lend a powerful voice to your brand. KOL marketing can be very effective but needs to be well-thought out and part of a long-term campaign. A little while ago, we had the chance to interview KOL marketing specialist, Elijah Whaley, from Parklu on how to get it right.

4. Video campaign

Paid video campaigns are a great way to show a brand’s creative side and to tell a story in an emotionally engaging way. For example, skincare brand SK-II used a video campaign on WeChat to connect daughters with their parents back home. The “Meet Me Halfway” campaign focused on pre-travel anxiety of single Chinese women who feel pressured by their parents expectations to get married and start a family. The video told the story of three women who wrote letters to ask their parents to meet them halfway, literally, and figuratively. SK-II also asked influencers to share their personal experiences and ask the public to do the same. This video campaign was highly popular, earning 75 million views. 

WeChat mini program

WeChat mini programs are small apps within the WeChat environment. They fulfil many of the same functions of standalone apps but are much easier to build and maintain. This allows for a streamlined and efficient user journey. For example, users can research a product via a brand’s WeChat official account and then make a purchase via the mini program enabled store. WeChat mini programs can be classified in four main groups: e-commerce, games, communication, and utility. If you want to learn more about how you can incorporate WeChat mini programs into your marketing, here is a detailed guide

Final Words

In this article, we touched on the importance of WeChat for businesses looking to connect with audiences in Mainland China. As you can tell, the app has some incredibly powerful features and functions, making it a great channel to attract, engage and sell to potential customers. 

Like any social media channel, running your WeChat official account does require some time and resources. It’s all about creating an engaging experience for your target audience – and that does take creativity and some patience. If WeChat marketing is of interest to your business but you’re not sure where to start, contact us for an informal chat. We’d be happy to advise you on the most important things to consider.