Not registered in China? You can still use the power of WeChat for your business. Here’s how…
We receive enquiries all the time about trying to set up WeChat official accounts as a non-Chinese entity.
WeChat official accounts are the ones where you can take payments, and gain regular subscribers in order to push content to an audience. These accounts are what can take your business to the levels you are looking for in China.
To do this, you essentially need a Chinese registered business, or a Chinese national ID – or you need to find someone who has either of these, to do this for you.
While an official WeChat account may seem like the only way to secure a good stream of communication (and consequently sales) with a Chinese audience, that isn’t actually the case.
As a non-registered Chinese business, or event a foreign individual, there are still ways to launch yourself on China’s number one digital tool.
Check out your options….
WeChat Private Account
If you have a smartphone, you can sign-up for a private (regular) WeChat account.
Features of a private WeChat account:
- Send/ receive payments
- Create WeChat groups
- Post to “moments”
- Add a network of friends and contacts
- Follow official WeChat accounts
So, why are these any use to you? Well, it stands to reason that if you want to get started on WeChat then beginning by using the tools which ARE available to you would seem like a good place to start. By running on an MVP, you’ll get used to the platform and start to understand how private users behave on WeChat – this is a valuable as private users are the ones you want to understand!
Can you use WeChat wallet without a registered business in China? Yes, you can. You do, however, need a personal bank account in China. Is this hard to achieve? No. As a tourist you can walk into any bank in China and register for a bank account in around 20 minutes. You’ll receive an ATM card and can assign yourself a PIN number before you walk out the door – yes, it’s that quick!
Obviously this could be a bit tough if you’ve got no Mandarin skills, so it’s a good idea to take someone with you who can help. You could ask someone who can write Mandarin to write a note for for explaining your requirements.
WeChat Private Account Transaction Limits
You can link your Chinese bank card to your WeChat wallet and then start making and taking payments on your private account. You have a limit on a private WeChat account of roughly $10,000 in transactions. This might sound like a tough limit for most businesses. You can get around this by registering a new WeChat account after you have reached your limit. Obviously this is not a long term solution, but it will get you onto the platform and selling.
If you are reading this from abroad, then you’ll have to make a journey to mainland China in order to get this done. Not a perfect solution, but the only one unless you can get someone to do it for you.
WeChat groups function very much like Facebook groups. There are different options for who you let into the group and you can remove people very easily.
WeChat groups are the quickest and easiest way to get content out to private WeChat users who have an interest in your type of product or service. Think of it as similar to a forum in it’s nature – you get interested customers into a WeChat groups in order to serve up useful information and develop a relationship with your audience.
The one important thing to remember about a WeChat group, is that it is on mobile. Because of this, your engagement levels will be more restricted to times of day when people can look at their mobile phones. In addition, the content that you put out has a much shorter shelf-life. What do I mean by that? If you post up a 1 minute video to your chat group, then if people don’t see it the same day, they are unlikely to trawl back through a stream of chat to find it.
For WeChat groups you should be keeping and eye on re-posting regularly + maximising on peak engagement times – lunch time and early to mid evening are reported as the best starting point for this by small business owners we have worked with.
Moments is a feature that is very similar to the Facebook wall. You post pictures and comments to it, and they are visible by your WeChat friends. They are not, however, available to anyone who is not in your circle of friends. This means that your content is not so dispersed on WeChat as it would be on a platform like Twitter or Facebook for example. If you are a Snapchat user, then you know what I’m talking about as it uses roughly the same system – you can only broadcast to friends.
Moments is a good place to start for putting out content to an audience. It is automatically pushed to your friends. They have the option to unfollow your moments, but as a default, they will receive your posts.
How Much Should I Post On WeChat Moments?
There is no limit on how much content you can put out in your moments. Why is this so valuable? Because when you enter the world of WeChat marketing, you are playing a slightly different game to on any other platform so you should be looking to split test your ideas by varying types of content, calls to action, and measuring the effectiveness of engagement times during the day. You may have done a great job of engaging your audience outside China using a successful blog/podcast/ social media strategy, but this is n’t automatically going to copy over into WeChat – both the audience and the platform are different, and should be treated as so.
What Types Of content Should I Put Out?
You can broadcast most types of content on WeChat in the same way as you would do on a blog. The only important restriction to note, is that attachments have a limit of 25 megabytes. You can get around this by using a cloud service and linking to it (if you want to know more about this leave us a comment and we’ll write an article about it)
How Easy Is It To Sign Up For A WeChat Account?
Super simple. You simply download the app and follow the instructions. Setting up on WeChat for a private account is no more difficult than getting an e-mail address. You’ll need a phone number to register, but you’ll then be able to take your account to other devices ( e.g. your iPad that has no SIM). This is another great feature of WeChat that WhatsApp missed – you can sign in on other devices without having to re-register. This is really handy when you are using a private account for your business, as you’re not restricted to one device.
Good luck with your adventure into WeChat private accounts. If you’ve got questions on this, then we need to hear it!! Oh, and if you liked our first article of 2017 then please let us know- your feedback is helpful!