WeChat, the social media app with over 1 billion active users, offers a channel function that can be used to build a following and engage with customers. Brands should make use of this powerful tool to create a community around their company and products. In this post, we’ll discuss what the WeChat Channels function is and how brands can make the most out of it. Stay tuned!
What Is a WeChat Channel?
WeChat Channels is a relatively new feature released by Tencent-owned WeChat, which serves as the application’s short-video platform. With Channels, you can share images and videos on your feed. In addition, you can also see your contacts and other accounts’ posts on your feed.
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A Channel video can last up to an hour and is 2GB in size. On the other hand, your posts with pictures can have as many as 9 images in them. Posts can have hashtags, an article link to your official account, and a location. In fact, some luxury brands have successfully leveraged WeChat Channels to create content and penetrate the Chinese market.
What Does It Look Like?
WeChat Channel is WeChat’s version of the video platforms of Instagram and TikTok. Inside, you’ll have content and video feed from many users. There are four filtering tabs within the Channel’s screen interface, namely:
- Following tab. This is where you’ll see all the posts of the accounts you follow.
- Default friends. This tab shows you the posts most liked by your friends on WeChat.
- Location. All the posts you see in this tab are curated based on your current location.
- Trending. This tab shows you the most popular posts, including those you and your friends don’t follow.
The user interface of the WeChat Channels is designed so that you’ll see more high-quality content from not only your WeChat friends but all users. This was possible because of WeChat’s algorithm that recommends content based on likes, shares, group chats, and even Moments. The focus on social engagement as a factor in recommending content ensures that viral posts and videos have social value in them.
Furthermore, this unique algorithm also allows businesses to scale their brands through organic means. By leveraging their existing audience, their high-quality content can still have a vast discoverability potential because your content can reach your audience’s own social circles in WeChat.
Who Can Have WeChat Channels?
So, who can use WeChat Channels?
This feature is available for anyone that has already created a WeChat account. If you’re a casual user, then you can use Channels to discover high-quality content, such as:
- Video content from your friends and other active users
- Videos in your current locations
- Hot and trending topics recommended by WeChat’s algorithm
Users can also search for niche topics through hashtags, keywords, and brand names. For instance, you can search for luxury bags, and you’ll be presented with all video content relevant to your search term. You can have different forms of engagement with content across WeChat Channels. These engagements include liking, commenting, and marking content as favorites. You can also share WeChat video content and posts to your individual and group chats and in your Moments. Doing all these things is possible within the WeChat ecosystem, so you won’t have to switch applications to enjoy these features.
Brands and businesses can also use WeChat Channels to reach their customers and market their brands in China. You can tailor your content to specifically target your existing audience as a brand. Having a visually-focused platform for your customers and followers on WeChat can help you gain a better position in the Chinese market. However, you can only achieve this by connecting your channel to your official WeChat account, which we’ll explain later. So, yes. You’d have to go through a short and easy process to create your own Channel. This channel can serve as your brand’s “sub-account” where you can post visually appealing content for your audience.
Why Brands Should Use WeChat Channels
There are a lot of reasons why you should use WeChat Channels. You would be mistaken to think that creating a WeChat Official Account is enough to boost your presence in China. However, since WeChat is mainly a text-based platform, it’s difficult to drive conversions within the app itself. Therefore, WeChat made Channels to respond to the increasing demand for short-form videos and other visual content as well as live streaming. Here are the reasons why your brands and businesses should use WeChat Channels for your marketing strategy in China:
For many years, WeChat has been a predominantly text-based platform. In fact, even your brand’s Official Account is a primarily text-based interface that features branded articles as its content. Other short-form videos are neglected in the process. The most significant limitation seen by brands for WeChat is that it’s a closed ecosystem. You can only interact with people and businesses you’ve added to your circle. This limitation makes it difficult to reach out and discover content and accounts spontaneously.
WeChat launched Channels as the ecosystem’s video platform to fill this gap. This move also created an opportunity for businesses to create a new conversion channel that works hand-in-hand with their WeChat Official Account. Unlike the previous features of WeChat, Channels now enable users to discover content that is beyond their existing network. Now, they can finally view suggested video content and posts beyond their social circle. You may just gain new, avid followers for your brand if you consistently post high-quality content on both your WeChat Official Account and Channel.
Therefore, your WeChat Channels can be a viable avenue to:
- Increase your followers by linking your WeChat Official Account to your Channel.
- Promote your WeChat store since you can also connect your store to your Channel.
- Grow your brand and business through high-quality video content and posts.
As we said before, one of the primary features of Channels is the ability to link your Official Account articles with your Channel’s content. You can include links in your post captions that redirect your audience to your product presentations and articles. Features such as this one offer your audience a seamless experience in their customer journey.
While it’s true that you can do this in applications like Instagram and TikTok, what sets Channels apart is its depth of integration. You see, you can convert your audience into customers within the WeChat ecosystem, which means less friction in their journey. By seamlessly linking your Official Account and Channel, your audience no longer has to leave and change apps just to make a purchase. They can just click your link on WeChat Channels and head straight to your product page in your Official Account.
All Your Content in One Place
We know that you’ve been using your WeChat Official Account for your in-depth brand content. After all, WeChat has been a text-heavy platform where brand articles get published. On the other hand, the short-form brand video gets published on TikTok (or Douyin in China). Furthermore, influencer posts and other image-heavy content like your pictures get published on Weibo. This fragmentation in content publishing and management can sometimes make the lives of both you and your followers difficult.
WeChat Channels allow you to consolidate your content, so your audience won’t switch apps anymore to view your images, short-form videos, and articles. As a brand, you must maintain consistency. WeChat Channels make this easier for you.
Don’t worry. You won’t even lose your followers on other platforms since most users in China own a WeChat account.
Creating Your WeChat Channel
First, you’ll need to log in to your personal account. While you may already have your own WeChat Official Account, Channels are created through your personal accounts before they’re linked to your OA.
Secondly, you’ll need to go to the WeChat Channels section under your main navigation bar’s “Discover” tab.
Afterward, you’ll see the WeChat Channels feed. On the top right corner of your screen, you’ll see a small camera icon which you’ll have to click. A create a channel button will then appear.
Finally, you’ll just supply your:
And voila! You have your very own Channel on WeChat.
How WeChat Channels Work
Verifying Your WeChat Channel
First, go to the dashboard icon on your WeChat Channel’s main menu. Afterward, click on the three dots menu to see the settings menu. You’ll then see a Verify option in the settings menu. Click it and choose “corporate verification.” The last step involves linking your personal account to your official account through your OA’s admin via a QR code. You’ll need to scan the code from their phone to successfully complete the verification. Therefore, you’ll need to be with them when going through the verification process.
Sharing on WeChat Channel
Posts on WeChat Channels can be shared with your friends and WeChat groups. Your shared channel posts will look similar to a Mini Programs shared card. You can also share a channel’s content through your Moments, which will look identical to when you’re sharing an article from an official account.
You can discover content from across WeChat Channel through the search function on top of your feed. You can search both posts and accounts through the search tool using hashtags and other search terms.
Your Channel is a separate account from your OA, which means that it has separate admin controls. However, the controls are similar to your OA, which can be accessed through your profile settings and the web. You can manage your Channel’s followers, analytics, and other admin features through the web platform.
Using WeChat Channels To Promote Your Brand in China
Linking WeChat Channel to Your Official Account
A verified WeChat Channel will have a blue tick beside its name, which increases its credibility among your audience. That’s why it’s best to link your WeChat Channel to your OA if you want to increase brand awareness and attract leads to your business. However, you have to remember that you can only link one Channel per Official Account.
Uploading Rich Content
Your success in WeChat Channel hugely depends on the quality of the content you’re uploading. Each time a user likes your posts, your content will be recommended to their social circle, which increases the reach of your content without any paid marketing. Rich, high-quality content can include:
- Promotions and product giveaways
- Influencer and KOL collaborations
- Product demonstrations
Leverage Hashtags for Your Content
Finally, hashtags are a vital part of your Channel’s success. You should immediately seize the opportunity to create video content or post hashtags that are currently trending. Similarly, you should be on the lookout for trending hashtags relevant to your business. By creating hashtag-specific content, you’re making your Channel more visible to more users and encouraging engagement from public accounts and other users.
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