Setting Up a WeChat Official Account for Overseas Businesses
For many overseas businesses wishing to enter the Chinese market, setting up a personal WeChat account can be an obstacle. Usually, it requires having a Chinese phone number or multiple people who are already on WeChat to verify your account. Even then, it’s common for new accounts registered overseas to be blocked as spam accounts.
As a way around this, overseas businesses can look to setting up a WeChat official account instead. An official account is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of establishing brand presence in the Chinese market. Tencent has allowed for foreign companies to set up and legally own a WeChat official account, registered as a service account, controlled by an overseas business entity.
While an official service account requires more verification, documents, and preparation time, once an account is verified, it is unlikely to be taken down by Tencent without reason. However, unlike a personal account, an official service account has restrictions on follower interaction and message history.
What an Official Service Account Can Do?
On WeChat, there are three types of official accounts. A subscription account, which allows for publishing articles and spreading news, mostly for media and individuals; WeChat work, which is mostly used for internal communications by businesses and other organizations; and a service account, which is made for offering online services and user interactions.
Both subscription accounts and service accounts can send posts, which can contain multiple articles. However, the limit for subscription accounts is one post per day while service accounts is four posts per month.
What sets service accounts apart from subscription accounts is the ability to broadcast each post to all followers as a push notification (meaning everyone will receive a notification on their WeChat as if their friend had messaged them).
While a service account can’t message other users like a personal account, it does display a list of followers (personal accounts). For personal WeChat accounts following the service account, the service account appears as a regular friend on the user’s chat display.
When a service account gains a new follower, the service account can directly message the new follower within 48 hours. After that, service accounts are unable to contact personal accounts unless followers contact the service account themselves. When followers do reach out, they become an “active user”, and the service account can message them directly again for 48 hours.
All chat history between a service account and followers are only kept for 30 days before they are deleted. It is recommended to store important conversation history for record keeping, and there are paid third party services that help streamline the process.
Official accounts can also be linked with WeChat mini programs. By requiring users follow the official account before using the mini program, mini programs can drive conversions from users to followers. Official account articles can also link to mini programs, encouraging users to use the mini program.
Unlike subscription accounts, service accounts are oriented towards use by businesses looking to provide further services to their clients and consumers. Because of this, service accounts have access to additional features such as WeChat pay, voice recognition, geolocation, URL shortening, custom QR codes for identifying traffic sources, and connected objects. In addition, service accounts offer advanced APIs for deeper integration with other enterprise web tools.
How to Set Up an Official Service Account
You can register an account on Weixin Official Accounts Platform. Then select Service Account to begin the registration process. There are 4 steps in the registration process.
Step 1. Basic Information
You will need an email address that has not been registered with any other Official Account and verify it via a six-digit verification code sent to your inbox.
Step 2. Account Type
Select your company or organization’s current region and then choose the type of your account.
Step 3. User Information
You need fill your entity and account admin information in this step.
Step 4. Account Information
Set your account name and brief introduction.
After register you need complete WeChat verification. WeChat official will complete the review within 2-4 weeks after your submission.
For company information, you’ll need to provide:
- Full name of your company
- Business registration number
- A scanned copy of your business license, complete with company stamp
- For foreign companies without an official seal, the business license should be signed by the legal representative
- Account operator’s full legal name
- Account operator’s email address
- Account operator’s mobile phone number to complete SMS verification
- Account operator’s landline
- Account operator’s personal WeChat (optional)
- Account operator’s ID and ID type
- Account operator’s mobile phone bill for the last three months
- The bill needs to display the name of the account operator and the phone number must be consistent with the phone number of the operator of the official account.
- Front and back photocopy of the account operator’s photo ID
- Should be a clear photo scan of a Chinese ID or foreign passport
For the official account setup, you’ll need to provide:
- Official account name
- Can contain both Chinese and English characters, but no special characters
- Character limit of 30 (Chinese characters count as two)
- Should not infringe on the exclusive rights of any registered trademark
- Should not be the same as any other verified account
- Brief description, with a limit of 120 characters
- Company logo
To complete the registration process, you’ll be required to provide the following documents for Tencent verification:
- WeChat verification letter with Official Seal (electronic version)
- Download the latest version available during the application process
- Provide your company chop and signature, then scan a pdf or jpg copy
- Business license
- Business legal representative full name
- Clear photograph or scanned copy of the cover and name page of the legal representative’s passport
- Verification contact’s full name
- Verification contact’s mobile phone number for SMS verification
- Verification contact’s landline phone
- Verification contact’s email
- Verification contact’s ID/passport (front and back)
- Verification contact’s mobile phone statement/bill:
- Option 1: Contact person’s mobile phone statement/bill needs to include the contact’s name, phone number, and a minimum of 3 months payment history.
- Option 2: Office landline’s mobile phone statement/bill with company stamp, company name, company phone number, and a minimum of 3 months payment history.
- “Trademark Registration” and “Trademark Authorization” (optional)
- Invoice type: choose no invoice for this payment or E-Invoice
- Company website
- Enterprise registration address
- The scope of business operation
- Company bank name
- Company bank account
- Company bank address
Tencent charges 99USD to verify the information. Ensure that on top of the 99USD, you pay for the bank’s international transfer fee, as you’ll need to restart the verification process if Tencent does not receive the full 99USD.
Tencent offers the following verification payment methods:
- WeChat Pay
- Credit card (Visa, MasterCard, JCB, Discover, Diners Club, China Union pay, American Express).
QPSOFTWARE can help you to open a WeChat Service account with your company registered outside of China. we will manage the entire application process, ensuring a smooth and successful application.
Using Your Service Account
You can log in your account from web page or download "订阅号助手" mobile app. The app is only available in Chinese.
Once logged into the WeChat Official Account platform backend, you will be able to see a list of your service account’s followers in the “followers” tab. Here you can add tags and remarks to each follower to better identify them.
By clicking on the profile of a follower, you will find yourself in the messages tab, where you will be able to see your chat history with that follower. Here you can send a message to your follower if they are an “active account”. For those accessing the backend on desktop, when users message your service account, you can see their message here as well.
On mobile, much like a personal account, you will receive user messages in your chat section. You can also set push notifications to be informed of user interactions immediately.
As stated earlier in the article, chat history is only archived for 30 days before being deleted, so ensure that important messages are saved to a different platform.
Contact us here if you need to open a Wechat account for Overseas Businesses!