Grok insight: WeChat organization accounts – latest policies and trends
This article was originally published in Chinese on Grok’s official WeChat account. You can see the account and original article by scanning the QR code on this page using WeChat.
The popularity of WeChat has soared since its release. WeChat is now a household name and everybody, from students to parents to prominent employers, use it every day to communicate, make payments, and for many other functions. As it is currently the most effective medium for sharing information, organizations of all sizes are using WeChat organization accounts, where the account represents an organization rather than an individual. Social media practitioners in the field of international education are no exception and are using WeChat organization accounts to market their institutions with great success.
So what is the current status of WeChat? What are the latest policies and rules of use for WeChat organization accounts in 2018? What are the current trends?
Latest WeChat data
WeChat has become a national mobile communication tool and one of the largest mobile traffic platforms in China. According to WeChat’s 2018 quarterly report, the number of monthly active users reached 1.04 billion. In 2017, the number of WeChat users reached 902 million, an increase of 17% compared with 2016. The average number of WeChat messages sent per day was 38 billion.
In addition, the WeChat organization account option is developing rapidly. According to WeChat, as of the end of 2017, there were over 10 million WeChat organization accounts, including 3.5 million active accounts, which is an increase of 14% compared with 2016. The number of people following an organization account was 797 million, an increase of 19% on the previous year. It has become one of the main functions used on WeChat, with users making a habit of engaging with businesses through these accounts.
Our interpretation of this data is in the rapid development of WeChat, almost everyone has a WeChat account, and every organization is developing their presence on the platform. If practitioners in the field of international education want to promote their brands in the Chinese market and expand their market influence, building an accessible information exchange platform for students and parents that makes full use of the WeChat organization account is a vital and indispensable part of its marketing and recruitment activities.
2018 WeChat organization account policy and function update
According to China’s “Regulations on the Administration of Internet User Information Services for Internet Users”, internet companies need to set a reasonable limit on the number of public accounts that can be registered by the same user or business on the same platform. In order to implement this policy, WeChat released the latest policy “Public Number Registration Adjustment” on February 10, 2018. Two provisions are as follows:
- The maximum number of public subject registration numbers has changed from 5 to 2
- The maximum number of registered organization accounts for an organization has changed from 50 to 5. (An “organization” here refers to an enterprise with a domestic business license.)
However, in practice, organizations who have a real need to register more accounts can apply at the time of registration. After review by the WeChat and the approval of the Internet information content authority, the organization will be approved to have more accounts.
In addition to supporting the registered public account of Chinese companies in the mainland, the WeChat platform has opened organization accounts to organizations with overseas business licenses in more than 100 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Applications can be made through the official website – http://weixin.qq.com.
If a university’s country is listed as being able to apply for the WeChat organization account, then it can register with the official WeChat public account of the university through two popular options.
The first is to entrust a qualified domestic enterprise in China to register on its behalf and to hold ownership of the account. The second is to submit qualification materials of overseas universities and apply directly to WeChat.
After reviewing many accounts registered to overseas institutions, our team at Grok found that many had registered their official WeChat organization account using the personal qualifications of a staff member. This is an accepted way to register an organization’s accounts, but considering the official brand image of the university, and ensuring Chinese students are confident the information they are receiving is endorsed by the institution, and possible problems later on if the staff member leaves the institution, we suggest using the qualification of the university or entrusting a domestic third-party enterprise to complete the registration.
In order to provide operators with a more friendly editing and reading experience, WeChat has added a function to let account managers modify small mistakes in a published article. Each article can be modified once, and the scope of the modification is limited to five words in the body text.
Usually articles published on WeChat organization accounts are all done on a desktop computer. In May 2018, the WeChat team released the “Subscription Assistant” app to support the public operator to post content, view and reply to messages, and manage users and accounts. This app is only supported on the iOS platform for the time being. An Android version is planned for the future.
For more information on WeChat public platform policies and features, please visit: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/cgi-bin/announce
2018 WeChat organization account trends
Organization accounts are now normal
In August 2012, the WeChat organization account was officially launched. Since its inception, the WeChat organization accounts have become normal for businesses and QR codes that let people follow an account can be seen everywhere. In the field of international education, it is no exception. International schools, study abroad institutions, and overseas institutions entering the Chinese study market are all deploying various resources and establishing official WeChat accounts to reach students and parents in a timely and effective manner.
The WeChat organization platform is also indispensable for online marketing of institutions because of its integration of sharing and forwarding, questionnaires, message interaction, and small apps.
Users are not concerned about reading volume, but they have high expectations for the quality of the content.
WeChat organization accounts limit the frequency of posts. This puts an emphasis on quality over quantity. Poorly written articles will give followers a bad experience and, in the long run, they will be likely to unfollow. Articles that that gets high views and engagement often include the following:
- A very attractive title.
- Interesting topic selection or knowledgeable topic selection to meet the needs of readers.
- The content of the article is full and complete, which can bring useful information to the reader or resonate emotionally.
- A language style that suits the topic and the organization’s brand image, whether that be professional or casual.
- Simple, beautiful and professional page layout.
WeChat is increasing the protection of operators’ intellectual property
Original articles, videos, images and sounds published on organization accounts will receive better protection, limiting unauthorised content replication. If other accounts want to forward or publish articles taken from an organization account, they first need to obtain permission.
Applets are increasing in popularity
With the help of WeChat, small apps have grown in popularity in the past year. In 2018, there will be a greater wave of development. In the international education industry, many institutions have customized and developed small programs to meet their own needs. Some apps have allowed online course selection, online registration, online payment, and there are some for campus services.
WeChat’s current user base has exceeded one billion and has become an indispensable part of people’s everyday lives. China’s biggest social platform will bring great changes to the work and life of everybody in China in the future. For these reasons, any institution looking to communicate with students in China should have an official, professionally managed WeChat organization account.