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What is a WeChat Mini Program? A Quick Guide

So what are WeChat Mini Programs? Well, they are app-like platforms that exist within the WeChat app itself. Unlike full-function native applications, they are streamlined, ‘light’ versions of the apps. These Mini Programs offer users the chance to experience the high-level benefits of a company’s app without the need to download an entire app. In the same way Facebook has games and lots of other little add-ons from third parties, so does WeChat……

An Example Of A WeChat Mini Program

For instance, Tencent’s e-commerce website has an app that you can download from your app store. But it also has a Mini Program within WeChat. Using this Mini Program allows you to stay in the WeChat ecosystem, get access to JD’s online offerings, and finalise purchases more easily because of the integration with WeChat Pay.

What Kind Are There?

With more than one million on offer, WeChat’s built-in app store offers users everything from games to bike sharing to food delivery. Launched at the beginning of 2017, the growth of WeChat’s Mini Programs is considerable. Apple’s App Store offers 2.2 million iOS apps, while Google Play offers still more, with 3.3 million Android apps on offer. However, those app stores have been around for a lot longer than WeChat’s Mini Programs.

How Many People Are Actually Using them?

How many people use WeChat Mini Programs?

An estimated 200 million people use WeChat Mini Programs daily in July 2019. The mini-programs cover over 200 different categories:

  • The most popular types of mini apps are games, lifestyle services and e-commerce Mini Programs
  • For lifestyle apps, WeChat’s Mini Programs offer the ability to hail cabs (or DiDi’s), unlock a shared bike, or even book a room (through AirBnb’s Mini Program).
  • E-commerce programs offer users the ability to browse and buy without needing to download different shopping apps, and make payment slightly easier by integrating with WeChat Pay.In short, WeChat mini programs make is super easy for users of WeChat to quickly get to the nuts and bolts of your products or services.

WeChat Mini-Programs Vs. WeChat Official Accounts

WeChat Mini-Programs V. WeChat Official Accounts
Official Accounts on WeChat were previously hindered by the inability to hyperlink products or services in WeChat. Now, with Mini Programs, accounts can send subscribers both notifications and link posts to Mini Programs.

Mini Program vs Web-Apps vs Native App

One of the clear benefits is that users can access them within one app. This integration into China’s most-used app is a great opportunity for businesses of all sizes to reach their audiences. Additionally, they tend to run really quickly. They don’t use up precious data in downloads. They are also shareable in WeChat conversations between users, so there is much more opportunity that your customers can pass on information (and potential sales) to people they want to recommend to your business.

Are There Any Drawbacks?

There are some drawbacks to using Mini Programs as opposed to browser-based web apps or even native apps themselves. Because they don’t need to be downloaded, they are small – this limits functionality. Unlike normal web-based apps that can work with any browser, these Mini Programs can only be used within WeChat.

For Mini Program development, it is important that creators are strictly adhere to Tencent’s guidelines, as Mini Program updates must be submitted to Tencent and programs can be blocked for violations. This is strict stuff, so you need to know what you are doing and tread carefully (this is actually true of most of the Chinese internet these days….)

Finally, although Mini Programs can be sent to individual or group chats, they cannot be shared on WeChat Moments (the equivalent of your Facebook wall) – so you can’t publicly share them for download on a “one to many” basis.

When Is Best To Use One?

Despite the differences between Mini Programs and native or web-based apps, they do have their role in China’s market.

Due to the very nature of WeChat and its role in the the daily life of hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers, businesses should without doubt maximise exposure and reach on WeChat. WeChat mini-programs are not necessarily a substitute for native apps or web-based apps. Indeed, they are often used alongside other apps

What About A WeChat Mini Program For My Business?

A WeChat Mini Program For My Business

For businesses using Official Accounts or other marketing tools on WeChat, Mini Programs are a simple and easy way to reach new audiences. Opening a Mini Program inside WeChat is a lot easier than downloading an app (think Facebook and all the little extras it has that keep you inside it’s own ecosystem – WeChat does the same with Mini Programs), and using a Mini Program is definitely an easy way for users to become familiar with your brand.

How Do I Get A Mini Program For My Business?

Mini Program development is relatively cheap and easy, especially in comparison to more sophisticated applications. While their current hallmark is simplicity, the growth in user-engagement and number of users is pushing Tencent to create more complexity within the Mini Programs.

What You Really Need To Do…..

Developing your Mini Program means you need some familiarity with the WeChat framework, and that’s where the 10,000 questions come in. If what you need is some more information on Mini Programs, then let us know, we’re using and building Mini Programs here in Beijing on a daily basis.

Leave us a comment, drop us an e-mail or a request for us to cover some topics in a future post.

Let’s do this….!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Is it possible to use WeChat account for single sign on? Use WeChat account credentials to login into websites? Like login using WeChat account?

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