With a staggering 1.3 billion users, WeChat stands tall as China’s go-to app for messaging, socializing, payments, and beyond. From dawn till dusk, it intertwines with the daily lives of countless Chinese citizens. No wonder brands are drawn to it as a key channel to connect with potential and devoted customers.
In this post, we’ll cover some of the most important things brands and agencies need to know about opening a WeChat Official Account (OA) and getting it verified:
- What are the different types of WeChat OA brands can open?
- Process of opening a WeChat OA for a brand with no China entity
- Step-by-step guide to opening a WeChat OA
- Step-by-step guide to verifying a WeChat OA
- Pro tips: For agency helping brands to register and verify a WeChat OA
Feel the freedom to jump between sections or buckle up for a comprehensive journey. Let’s embark on this WeChat adventure together!
What are the different WeChat Official Account (OA) options?
There are two types of official WeChat accounts brands and organizations can choose from
- Service Account (”Service OA“)
- Subscription Account (“Subscription OA”)
While they are both quite similar in terms of functionality and how your content will ultimately be displayed, small nuances make each type more or less suitable to brands of specific categories.
In recent years, due to changes within the WeChat as to how users are notified of new content as well as increased competition, open rates for many accounts has been a steady decline. As you can see from a recent analysis of how open rates differ between the two, Service OA tends to have a higher open rate.
So, which type of account is better for your brand?
Let’s take a look at how they shape up side-by-side:
|Service OA||Subscription OA|
|Just tell me, which one is better?! 🤔️||Recommended for the majority of brands: |
increased visibility within the app, customer-centric features available, ability to connect to an API.
|Most suitable for individuals, media, government or events companies that need to publish content multiple times per week.|
|Who Can Apply||An official business license or articles of incorporation will be needed to apply. Brands without a Chinese business license are able to apply, however some functions won’t be available. |
*Keep reading for more information about how to apply
|Businesses, organizations, and individuals can apply. If applying as an organization or individual without a business license, a personal ID card is required. |
*Brands without a Chinese business license are unable to apply.
|OA Verification Options||Service Accounts can be verified to open more options such as the verified mark, WeChat Pay, customer service features, direct linking to outside WeChat, and other WeChat advanced interface authorization. |
*Keep reading for a step-by-step guide on how to verify your account
|Can be verified if a registered entity, but will have limited access to some functions such as WeChat Pay.|
|Account Interface||Accounts can customize the menu bar with up to 3 main menu tabs. Each main menu tab can host up to 5 sub-menu tabs which can link out to web links, or a variety of media formats.||Accounts also can have the customizable menu bar. *Limited options for unverified Subscription Accounts — menu tabs cannot connect to web links outside WeChat.|
|How will people find my account?||Messages appear in the core chat feed with a red dot alongside new content, making accounts easy to notice.||All accounts are housed within one Subscription folder, making your account much less visible to followers.|
|API Connectivity||Verified Service OA can apply to connect to an API, which are necessary when building an online store and membership system.||Not available. Some verified accounts with an official business license and registered under the government or media category will have access.|
|Publishing Limits||4 pushes per month with up to 8 articles in each push. New pushes appear in Chat feed in chronological order.||One push per day with up to 8 articles in each push (only the top two articles will be visible above the fold). |
Articles sorted according to algorithm which places a user’s most-accessed accounts at the top.
|Content Verification||To mark published content as ‘Original’, accounts must first apply for and open the WeChat Pay feature.||Only accounts which are verified and under media and government category are able to apply for WeChat Pay feature, which enables them to mark content as ‘Original.’|
|E-commerce Functions Available||Verified Service OA can open WeChat Pay to enable e-commerce within WeChat. *Service OA registered as an overseas account will not be able to open WeChat Pay||Only verified accounts with an official business license and registered under the government or media category can open WeChat Pay function.|
|Customer Service||Brands can respond to messages through the WeChat backend but must be within 48 hours||Brands can respond to messages through the WeChat backend but must be within 48 hours|
|Tracking Traffic||Able to generate multiple QR codes to track new follower source within WeChat ecosystem. Verified accounts can track new follower source outside of WeChat ecosystem.||Able to generate multiple QR codes from backend but not able to track source of new followers outside of WeChat ecosystem|
|Follower information available||Can only see WeChat alias (not a users real name as it appears on their ID) in backend. No option to initiate customized contact with followers directly, only when responding to a message or through bulk, templated service messages.||Can only see WeChat alias (not a users real name) in backend. No option to initiate customized contact with followers directly, only when responding to a message. No option to send bulk, templated service messages.|
Fee: 300 RMB/99 USD application fee is required. The fee is nonrefundable regardless of whether or not registration is successful. After the registration is successful, an annual service fee of 300 RMB will be charged. If the account name needs to be changed after the registration is successful, another 300 RMB/99 USD fee will be charged.
Now that you’ve decided on which type of account is best, you’ll need to apply through Tencent’s platform.
Step-by-step guide to opening a WeChat Official Account
Here’s a handy checklist of documents you’ll need to prepare ahead of time:
|Document||Requires Signature (Company Seal)||Requires Certification||Requires Verification|
|Basic info (account email and password)||NO||NO||E-mail Verification|
|Company info (type, name, registration number)||NO||NO||NO|
|Account admin info (name, cellphone number, passport or drive license number)||NO||NO||SMS Verification|
Step 1: Basic info
This step requires:
- E-mail address that will be used to log into the platform.
- E-mail verification code (This will be a code sent to the email provided, make sure to check your spam box).
- Password (At least 8-digits, case sensitive, letters, figures or English symbols accepted).
Step 2: Information Registration
This step requires:
1. Entity information
- Company type (corporation or sole proprietorship)
- Company name (the name that is shown on the company’s certificate of registration or business license issued by the local government. The name cannot be modified after verification).
- Company registration number (must be consistent with the enterprise registration number on the enterprise registration certificate or business registration certificate and other enterprise certificates issued by the local government. After a successful review of information, the enterprise name cannot be modified).
2. Account admin information
- Admin’s name (the OA admin’s full name exactly as shown on their ID card).
- Admin’s cellphone number.
- SMS verification code — this code will be sent to the phone number of the contact person (it can be an international number outside of China).
- Admin’s ID number (ID card number, passport number, or driver’s license number).
3. Creator information
This is optional, so no need to fill it in
Step 3: Account Information
This step requires:
1) Account name
This name will be the brand name you want to promote to Chinese audience. Be aware that you will have to submit corresponding materials for the OA’s name (such as trademark) — the name may be modified during the account name certification process.
A short introduction (4-120 characters) to decide the OA’s features and services.
3) Region/Country of Business Operation
What Does a Verified WeChat OA Mean? Why is it Important to Have?
For accounts registered overseas:
You must apply for verification within 30 days of registering your account. During the time the account remains unverified, you’ll be temporarily unable to use the broadcasting function of advanced functions of the WeChat OA Platform. If you fail to apply for WeChat authentication within 30 days, your OA will be canceled.
*Note: even if your overseas account is verified, you will not be able to use the WeChat Pay function, which also means you will not be able to mark your published content as Original Content.
For account registered with a Chinese business license:
It is not required at this time to go through the verification process. However, it is recommended that you verify your WeChat OA so that you can access all of the backend functions such as WeChat Pay, marking content as original, etc.
The WeChat OA verification process is comprised of five parts:
Part 1: Agree to Terms
Part 2: Enter Information
Part 3: Upload Supporting Documents
Part 4: Verify Name
Part 5: Payment
Here’s a handy checklist of documents you’ll need to prepare ahead of time:
|Document||Requires Company Seal||Requires Certification||Requires Verification|
|Letter of Authorization for Operation||YES||NO||NO|
|Trademark registration (if the system detects that the account name involves trademark)||NO||YES||NO|
|Contact person’s cellphone or bank bill within the latest three months||NO||NO||This person will be contacted via email, also receive a call from WeChat to verify|
Part 1: Enterprise Qualification Information
What you’ll need to input:
1) Enterprise Full Name
2) Company Registration Number
3) Enterprise Registered Address: (Identical to the residence / place of business on the Certificate of Incorporation)
4) Official website (optional)
5) “Certificate of Incorporation” or “Business License” (Format Requirements: Photo of original, scanned original, or copy affixed with official seal; supports JPG, JPEG, BMP, GIF, and PNG files; max size is 5 MB.)
6) Other Supporting Document (optional)
Part 2: Verification of Contact Person
This step will require you to select a contact person. The responsibility of this person will include document collection and sorting, information filling and uploading, and two-way communication between customers and the WeChat certification agency. Therefore, it’s important to select someone who has experience with registering WeChat OA.
Here is what you will need to provide:
1) Contact person name
2) Contact person mobile No.
3) SMS verification code — this code will be sent to the phone number of the contact person (it can be an international number outside of China)
4) Contact person landing phone
5) Contact person E-mail
6) Contact person ID No. — this can be an ID card number, passport number, or driver’s license number.
Part 3: Uploading of Documents
1) Application Letter
*Be aware that the original ID of your account is already included in the form you download from the web so make sure to copy and paste for further use. This step requires the photo or scanned copy of the original affixed with an official seal. Supports JPG, JPEG, BMP, GIF, and PNG images with a max size of 5 MB.
2) Letter of Authorization for Operation
It requires the photo or scanned copy of the original affixed with an official seal. Supports JPG, JPEG, BMP, GIF, and PNG images with a max size of 5 MB.
3) Contact Person Mobile Phone Statement
The content of the contact’s mobile phone statement must include the contact’s name, phone number, payment records for the past three months, etc. If the contact’s mobile phone statement cannot be provided, you can upload the company’s office phone statement (which needs to be stamped with the official seal or include a bank card statement for verification.)
4) Contact Person ID Card
Upload the photo of the front and back of the contact person’s ID card, or a photo or scanned copy of their driver’s license showing his/her name. Supports JPG, JPEG, BMP, GIF, and PNG images with max size of 5 MB.
Part 4: Confirm Account Name
If the system detects that the account name contains a trademark name, the relevant trademark registration document and stamped with the official seal are required.
Trademark Registration Certificate
- It should show the trademark, category number, and applicant’s name
- Photo of original, scanned original, or copy affixed with an official seal. Supports JPG, JPEG, BMP GIF, and PNG files; max size is 5MB
Part 5: Invoice and Payment Information
Confirm the invoice type is digital and it will be under the company’s name.
- The application fee is USD 99 which can be paid through WeChat Pay or multiple credit cards.
After this, the agency will review all the documents and email the contact person for further adjustments or requirements.
Important information for Agencies
- Double-check email addresses used.
The email address — that has been used to register the account and log in to the platform — must NOT has been previously used to register or bind a personal WeChat account, Subscription OA, Service OA, Mini Program, Enterprise Account, or Open Platform account.
- The company name should be exactly the same one that is displayed on the business license.
- The trademark registration document has to involve the applicant’s name and trademark class number.
- Limits to the number of accounts under one business license.
According to regulations, the maximum number of public accounts registered by the same enterprise, individual business owner, and other organization is two. While the maximum number of public accounts registered by the same overseas entity is one.
Important information for brands that choose to register with a third-party
If your company does not have a business license in China but would still like to open an account as such, an agency or third-party service is certainly an option. However, it will be important to consider a few major factors:
- Your brand will not be the legal owner of the account, meaning that in the worst case, the account could be suspended or revoked with no legal standing available to retrieve it.
- As agencies are very limited by the number of accounts they can associate with a single business license, they may impose a costly service fee.
Once you’ve opened your WeChat OA, it will be time to start planning out your KPIs and content calendar! Remember, WeChat can be a crucial touchpoint in your customer journey, serving as a useful tool, a mechanism to engage loyal fans or a platform to host important information.
KAWO has worked with numerous teams to understand how brands can produce effective content in the most efficient way. We’ve designed an easy-to-use dashboard for WeChat, as well as four other major China social media platforms so that marketing teams, agencies and vendors can work together to plan, track, benchmark and analyze performance on China social media channels such as WeChat — ensuring marketing efforts are actually driving business results. Reach out to our team to learn more about how KAWO can make managing your WeChat Official Account seamless!