WeChat Official Account : A foreign business guide

What is a WeChat Official Account

"Even the smallest entity has its own brand" - this is the official slogan for WeChat's Official Accounts Platform. A WeChat official account is an official account provided by the WeChat platform that can be applied for and registered by various entities such as enterprises, organizations, and individuals, to publish content, disseminate information, and provide services. 

Whether you are an individual or a business, as long as you have a WeChat official account, it represents your personal brand. Once you own a WeChat official account, you will have the opportunity to promote your brand to over a billion WeChat users through the WeChat channel, reducing promotional costs, increasing brand awareness, and building a more influential brand image.

Why are WeChat official accounts so important for doing business in China?

  • Large user base. WeChat is one of the most popular social media applications in China, with over 1.2 billion monthly active users, providing a vast audience for official accounts.
  • Strong content interactivity. Official accounts can publish rich multimedia content, such as text, pictures, videos, etc., and support fan comments and sharing, enhancing the interaction between content and users.
  • Precise marketing capabilities. Based on user's social relationship data, official accounts can conduct precise marketing to target audiences, improving marketing efficiency.
  • Low cost and high efficiency. Compared with traditional marketing channels, the operational cost of WeChat official accounts is low, with wide coverage and high interaction frequency, bringing a higher return on marketing investment for enterprises.

In summary, WeChat official accounts have become an important platform for all kinds of entities to carry out brand building, content marketing, customer service, and user operations, playing an indispensable role in China's business ecosystem.

To conclude, for many overseas businesses wishing to enter the Chinese market, a WeChat official account is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to establish brand presence in the Chinese market. Tencent has allowed foreign companies to set up and legally own WeChat official accounts, controlled by overseas business entities.

A step-by-step guide to creating a WeChat official account as a foreign business

1: Search and open the homepage of WeChat Official Accounts Platform (mp.weixin.qq.com). You can choose to change the language in the top right corner to English. Then click "Register now" to start.

2: Choose the account type. As a foreign business your only choice is a service account as that is the only type available for Non-Chinese businesses. Service Accounts are for small, medium or even enterprise-sized businesses and organizations to promote marketing and scale for profit. Service Accounts offer access to many sales and service-oriented functions, such as interactive menus, customer service, and e-commerce. For example, WeChat users who subscribe to a ride-hailing Service Account are able to hail a taxi, and those who subscribe to a food delivery Service Account can order food.

Additionally, a service account can send up to 4 broadcast messages per month to its followers. These messages will appear in the users' chat lists, and sending a message will instantly notify them. This means that information from a service account can reach users more quickly and directly, increasing user engagement.

3: Enter an email address that hasn't been registered with any other Official Account, then enter the six digit verification code from the email you will receive. Choose a password for this account (make sure you don't lose it) and click "Register" to continue.

4: Enter your organization details and details of your designated account operator including their full legal name, passport details and a valid mobile phone number, then click "Continue". you’ll need to provide:

  • Full name of your organization
  • Business registration number
  • A scanned copy of your business license, complete with company stamp. For foreign companies without an official seal, the business license should be signed by the legal representative
  • Account operator’s full legal name
  • Account operator’s email address
  • Account operator’s mobile phone number to complete SMS verification
  • Account operator’s landline
  • Account operator’s personal WeChat (optional)
  • Account operator’s ID and ID type
  • Account operator’s mobile phone bill for the last three months. The bill needs to display the name of the account operator and the phone number must be consistent with the phone number of the operator of the official account
  • Front and back photocopy of the account operator’s photo ID. Should be a clear photo scan of a Chinese ID or foreign passport

5: Make sure all the information is correct and click "Confirm".

6: Now create an account profile by entering an account name and a short introduction. Also you need to select your country where your company is incorporated. Note: You can mix Chinese and English characters for the account name, but take note of the character limit and that special characters are not allowed.

7: Now that your WeChat official account has been successfully established, you can further choose to get it verified (optional). A verified WeChat official account will be able to utilize more features. If you choose to get it verified, then you will need to provide the following information:

  • WeChat verification letter with Official Seal (electronic version). Download the latest version available during the application process
  • Provide your company chop and signature, then scan a pdf or jpg copy
  • Business license
  • Business legal representative full name
  • Clear photograph or scanned copy of the cover and name page of the legal representative’s passport
  • Verification contact’s full name
  • Verification contact’s mobile phone number for SMS verification
  • Verification contact’s landline phone
  • Verification contact’s email
  • Verification contact’s ID/passport (front and back)
  • Verification contact’s mobile phone statement/bill:
  • “Trademark Registration” and “Trademark Authorization” (optional)
  • Invoice type: choose no invoice for this payment or E-Invoice
  • Company website
  • Enterprise registration address
  • The scope of business operation
  • Company bank name
  • Company bank account
  • Company bank address

8: Fees: Tencent charges $99 USD to verify the information. Tencent offers the following verification payment methods: WeChat Pay, credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, JCB, Discover, Diners Club, China UnionPay, American Express). Generally, the entire verification process takes 7-15 weekdays after submitting all the required documents, once your payment is received by the system. To follow up on the status, sign into the system and check under "Settings -> WeChat Authentication -> Check". Alternatively, you can call the customer service hotline of the third-party review company handling the verification.

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