Who Uses WeChat and Why is WeChat so Popular in China?

This is a guest post by Nellie Shen at Kaitlin Zhang Branding.

In the West, where Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram are the dominant social media platforms, WeChat may sound a little unfamiliar. However, in China, where the aforementioned platforms are banned and inaccessible, WeChat reigns king.

What is a WeChat Official Account?

According to the Official WeChat Official Accounts page, a WeChat Official Account Platform is “a cooperation and promotion service that can be used by individuals, governments, media organizations and business enterprises. Official accounts can promote their brands to billions of WeChat users through their WeChat channel, thus reducing propagation cost, raising brand popularity and building more influential brand images.” (WeChat Official, 2018)

WeChat’s Popularity in China

Founded in 2011 and owned by Tencent,WeChat has hit 1 billion accounts, highlighting the popularity of the pervasive service used for everything from communication to shopping (Financial Times, 2018).

WeChat isn’t only a messaging platform, but a social powerhouse that connects not only friends and family, but also businesses to consumers. Dominating the app market, it is used as a social messaging app that has largely replaced work emails, but also as a platform for mobile payments, e-commerce, train bookings and blogs, as well as being host to a universe of other apps. Last year, the reported annual growth in WeChat user accounts is 15.8 percent since last September (Financial Times, 2018).

In 2017, WeChat was the most frequently used application on mobile phones among 87.6% of users and used more than one hour a day among 81.5% of users. WeChat is able to capture a large age range of users from under 18 to over 60, reaching most of China’s population.

Source: CAICT

Why should I use WeChat in my marketing strategy?

For businesses that want to tap into the China market, implementing WeChat as a marketing strategy is a must.

Below are the top 3 reasons why you need to add WeChat into your Chinese marketing strategy.

1. Large audience reach

In a country where familiar social media platforms like Facebook, Youtube, Google are banned, WeChat may be the only social portal that foreign businesses can use to enter the Chinese market. Through WeChat, companies can tap into the otherwise untapped Chinese market, in addition to users who use WeChat outside of China.

Plus, China’s use of social media is increasing faster than the rest of the world, and their consumption levels are also rising. Chinese consumers tend to consider products or services if they see them mentioned on a social media site. (Harvard Business Review, 2012)

In 2016, China’s digital economy attained RMB 22.6 trillion, an increase of 18% year on year. It represented 30.3% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and contributed to 69.9% of the GDP growth, providing core driving force for economic growth. (WeChat Economic and Social Impact Report, 2017)

2. All-in-one services

WeChat allows users to enjoy all the features of Uber, Facebook, ApplePay, Snapchap, Amazon, Skype, Tinder in one comprehensive app. You don’t have to go outside of WeChat to enjoy all the services 10 other apps would give you. In 2017, WeChat even developed Mini Programs, their own “app within an app” to ensure that you never need to leave the WeChat app. Businesses can create their own apps right within the WeChat platform so that consumers can easily browse and spend all in one convenient place. Other interesting features such as “Red Pockets’ and “WeChat Payments” allow followers to easily purchase through the WeChat platform.

Below are just a couple of features that this all-in-one platform provides:

A) Mini Programs

Mini Programs is WeChat’s own “app within an app”. It was launched in 2017 to facilitate more options for businesses to push their content and products to consumers. By the end of December 2017, a total of 580,000 mini programs were put online, involving one million developers and 23 million third-party platforms and embracing 170 million daily active users. Mini programs turn increasingly important through continuous development of new features. According to the survey, 64.4% of subscribers considered mini programs more convenient and 65.1% thought that mini programs can partially replace the corresponding applications on mobile phones. Mini programs contributed to over 10% of new subscriptions for 57.3% of the developers and helped to sales revenue for 72.8% and to reduce costs for 90%.(Jing Daily, 2018)

B) Built-in Analytics Platform

WeChat has its own analytics system that tracks consumer interaction and purchasing behavior. While it does provide less information than what you can receive from Google Analytics and Baidu Tongji, it breaks down the essential components that may need to improve your content or strategy to engage followers on a better level. (Nanjing Marketing Group, 2017)

Some features provided in WeChat Analytics are:
• Day-by-day data on the total number of followers, new followers and cancelled followers. These are filterable by source.
• User demographics. These figures may be unreliable as they are based on what users entered themselves.
• Gender
• Language
• Chinese province & city. There is no geo-date for users outside of China.
• Amounts of view and likes of each post

3. Different account options

WeChat gives businesses flexibility to promote their products and services with its different accounts. Depending on the marketing strategy and desired outcome, a business can choose to register for a Service or Subscription Account. Official Accounts helps micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to improve operating efficiency and trim operational costs. As Official Accounts positively responds to the needs of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, a growing number of companies create official accounts and scale up capital investment in operation and development.

Official Accounts fuels the growth of enterprises by increasing income, improving efficiency, and cutting costs. Over 32% of operators have sold products via official accounts, about 40% offered customer services or public services, and nearly 34% cut costs by more than 30%. Up to 82.9% of operators were satisfied with the WeChat Official Accounts platform and more than 50% very willing to recommend to other organizations. (WeChat Economic and Social Impact Report, 2017)

Creating an Official Account

However, before any business can promote on WeChat, they must register for an Official Account. While registering for a WeChat personal account for messaging purposes is pretty easy, registering an account through which to do business requires more effort.

The next post will explore the different types of official WeChat Official Accounts in detail, and which account is most suitable for your business needs.


Lien, Che Hui, and Yang Cao. Examining WeChat Users’ Motivations, Trust, Attitudes, and Positive Word-of-Mouth: Evidence from China.

https:// jingdaily.com/reports/
https:// jingdaily.com/wechat-mini-program/
https:// chinachannel.co/1017-wechat-report-users/

Atkinson, Simon . “WeChat hits one billion monthly users — are you one of them?” BBC News Online. BBC, 6 Mar. 2018.

Rapp, Jessica. “How luxury brands use four social media apps in China to reach consumers who shop mostly online”. South China Morning Post. 23 June, 2018.

Nellie Shen

Nellie Shen is a Copywriter and Content Marketer. She is passionate about bringing the brand and message of a company to life through the power of words, stories and strategic dissemination. She has extensive experience in the Asian market and knows how to tweak a message to suit different cultures.

Originally published at kaitlinzhang.com on October , 2018

Kaitlin Zhang Branding is a cross-border marketing agency that provides brand management, digital marketing and online reputation management services for corporate and personal branding clients in the UK, USA, Canada and China. The company specialized in the tech and financial services industry, helping companies trying to launch their brands in China or Chinese companies trying to launch their brands into the Western market. The team has a wide range of experience in technology, fintech, venture capital, private equity and government. There is also a dedicated team in China that has an in-depth understanding of China’s marketing environment.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help promote your brand.


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