WeChat channels, a must-read guide for Chinese social media marketing for 2021

May 5th, 2021

What is WeChat channel – A video app inside WeChat

WeChat channel is a video app within WeChat. This is a new feature WeChat opened for users, influencers and brands to create and post short video content and distribute them through WeChat. Users can access WeChat channel directly within the WeChat app, under WeChat moments.

Screenshot 2021-05-06 at 6.56.54 PM Figure 1: searching for WeChat Channels

  1. How does it work?

WeChat Channel is similar to Tiktok and Instagram. Tabs help guide audience to different topics and accounts. Users can search for contents to follow. Through searching topics or hashtags, users could find posts and video contents by WeChat Channels

Screenshot 2021-05-06 at 6.57.48 PM Figure 2: Searching for content on WeChat Channel

WeChat has been a popular communication platform for the Chinese audience. WeChat Channel was set up so that people could share video content directly within the WeChat app, without moving back and forth different apps. Users have the options to share to a contact, WeChat group or WeChat moments. Users can click directly on the ‘shared cards’, and be led directly to the post or channels. This algorithm helps users to explore content and follow users that are not within their contact. This directs audience into WeChat Official Brand Accounts that they have not been following. WeChat Channel could help brands raise brand awareness in the China social e-commerce and China social media marketing.

Screenshot 2021-05-06 at 6.56.04 PM copy Figure 3: Sending WeChat Channel content to friends

Screenshot 2021-05-06 at 6.56.04 PM Figure 4: Tabs linking to WeChat Channel in a WeChat conversation

  1. How to post on channels

Access your WeChat Channel on user’s personal account and apply by clicking on the camera icon on the top right of the screen.

Screenshot 2021-05-06 at 6.56.09 PM copy

Start the creating process by creating a channel. Fill in the basic information: Name, basic description (bio), gender and location.

Screenshot 2021-05-06 at 6.56.09 PM

Once the account is created, users could post. Within the account dashboard, users can find list of Channel accounts they follow, list of followers, number of views and interactions between accounts within your WeChat Channel. In a post, users could create short videos under 1 minute, or longer videos up to 30 minutes. Within each post, they can add 1000 Chinese characters, including topics, hashtags, @ other accounts and location.

  1. Latest 2021 statistic for WeChat channel

Screenshot 2021-05-06 at 6.52.00 PM Graph 1: Growth graph and development details of WeChat Channel in 2020

Within a year, WeChat Channel has refreshed its functions for 33 times and has released 40+ new functions to attract users. With the new functions, WeChat has surpassed 280 million users by the end of 2020. WeChat launched the first trial of the WeChat Channel in January. In June, they added interactive functions including: @, save, forwarding, sharing to Moments. They also added tabs “follow”, “trendy”, “friends” and “location” for users to access to more content without searching. After these additions, WeChat has reached 200 million users per day. In July, users were able to share WeChat Channel content through messages or WeChat moments. From August onwards, detailed improvements were made on the Channels. Live streaming functions were available in WeChat Channel for brands to connect with their customers. By the end of the year, WeChat has linked their internal system with WeChat Channel. Users were able to scroll through the Channels, watch live streams and purchase products immediately using the WeChat mini-program.

Screenshot 2021-05-06 at 6.55.16 PM Graph 2: WeChat daily average usage and top 27 contents on WeChat Channel

By the end of 2020, there were 30 million users on WeChat Channels daily. The average usage time was around 19 minutes, showing that WeChat Channel has a steady growth. WeChat Channel mainly covers 27 different video contents including music, comedy, fashion, lifestyle, emotional growth, entertainment, education, anime, news, social service, traveling, photography etc. These video contents build the overview of WeChat Channel.

Screenshot 2021-05-06 at 6.55.23 PM Graph 3: Demographics of WeChat Channels

According to research, Guangdong has the biggest proportion of WeChat Channel users and creators. They have almost ¼ of all channel users. Fujian and Zhejiang are at second place (7.5%), Jiangxi at third place (5.8%) and Wunan at fourth place (5.6%). Most creators and users are covered on the south side of China, with Beijing being an exception, covering 6.2% on the north side. These distributions can allow brands to understand more about their possible client base and create content according to the audience’s preferences.

  1. Dive deep into WeChat channel – How WeChat channel, a video app, integrates with the rest of WeChat

Screenshot 2021-05-06 at 6.54.50 PM Graph 4: How WeChat Channel create the perfect purchase loop within one app

WeChat Channel has created the perfect consumer loop within one WeChat app, which has innovated China’s social media marketing. People can now manage social e-commerce on one application instead of many different applications. This app now has messaging (socialisation), public search engines (contents), live streaming, shopping, payment programmes (consumerism) altogether into WeChat Channel. WeChat has become an important stepping stone to connect all applications into one, connecting China’s social media marketing with China’s social e-commerce.

Screenshot 2021-05-06 at 6.55.05 PM Graph 5: How users complete purchase within WeChat through WeChat Channel

The WeChat Channel is constantly refining its content and usage friendly levels. They have successfully created the perfect purchase loop for users and brands. Users could stream content through WeChat Channel, link to live streaming pages or WeChat mini program to purchase. This way, purchasing products becomes easier and faster. This also helps brands secure their clients.

  1. How to get a WeChat Channels profile/account verified

There are two types of verification for WeChat Channels profiles. Users can verified as personal accounts or corporate accounts. Big brands such as LV, and other western luxury fashion brands have been verified in WeChat Channels through corporate verification.

To be verified, corporations have to go to Channels account dashboard and access to the setting menu on the “3 dot” icon. The icon will link to a “Verify” icon. Corporations/ brands can choose “corporation verification”. A QR code would be generated. A verified Official Account Admin must scan the QR code within an hour for the verification to be completed.

Screenshot 2021-05-06 at 6.56.17 PM

  1. How brands can utilize WeChat Channel to promote brand awareness in China?

Compared to popular channels like Instagram or Douyin (Tiktok) which are algorithm driven, WeChat Channels’ content is tightly focused. The marketing is tailored for specific audience that aligns to the user’s favourites. However, WeChat Channel can also help brands target potential new customers that seek the same objective.

Brands have complete control of how they market, how many people they could reach, what they could show. When users view a brand’s WeChat Channel account, they can immediately see their profiles, learn about their e-commerce products, watch videos they have made, enter WeChat mini programs to purchase products.

Brands must also realise that before every product launch, brands must utilise the functions of WeChat Channel. Brands should connect with the community before launch, have sales interaction in live broadcast to direct more audience into their WeChat Channels. Brands must go through a set of standardized operation procedures to effectively guide consumers to purchase products. Brands could also create discounts codes for users to share with friends and family. This creates a larger audience. Corporations should communicate with customers after live streaming. These tips help brands raise brand awareness in China.

WeChat Channel has combined all social media marketing functions together into one channel. Brands are able to communicate with a bigger audience by private messaging, live streaming, and video contents. With the combination of these programs, consumers can easily purchase products through the WeChat mini program directly. This can benefit to both brands and consumers via the WeChat eco-system.

Contact us now to know more about how we could assist you in starting your WeChat Channel and sell on WeChat to broaden your brand awareness in China’s social e-commerce.