Everything you wanted to know about WeChat Channels
What do you get when you combine China’s biggest social media app, WeChat, with China’s biggest short video app, Douyin?
WeChat Channels! WeChat’s answer to the boom in short video content.
But what is it exactly? And how can international businesses use this new WeChat feature to their advantage?
In this article, we’ll be answering those questions and more, as we break down everything you need to know about WeChat Channels, and how your business can get started on it.
First things first: What is WeChat Channels?
Launched for beta testing in early 2020, WeChat Channels is a new short video platform within WeChat that lets users create and share short video clips and photos to their own WeChat Channel.
Users can also discover content posted to other Channels (by their friends, and other accounts on WeChat) via the WeChat Channels feed.
Each WeChat Channel post can include:
- Multiple hashtags
- A location tag
- A short description
- A WeChat Official Account article link
The most popular content on WeChat Channels is very similar to what you’d find on Douyin or TikTok. It’s of a viral nature and is led by trends and hashtags, like dance challenges, lip-sync skits, memes, and fashion and food-related videos.
How do WeChat Channels work, exactly?
Users just have to click on the ‘Discover’ tab in the main navigation bar on WeChat, select the ‘WeChat Channels’ option, and start scrolling through the content feed.
In the feed, they’ll be able to view content in four separate tabs:
- The default friends tab, that shows the most liked videos by a user’s friends
- The follow tab, that features WeChat Channel posts from followed accounts
- The trend tab, that includes popular content from unfollowed accounts
- The location tab, that filters content to a user’s current location
On either feed, users can like a post, comment on it, and follow the publisher account if they don’t already. They can also share posts to individual chats, group chats, and their WeChat Moments profile.
Once shared, a WeChat Channel post is re-posted with a direct ‘go to channel’ link that’ll take users straight to the relevant WeChat Channel. This could be either a personal account or an Official Account, depending on the publisher.
For businesses, this is one of the main benefits of WeChat Channels, as it gives users a direct way to discover accounts they don’t already follow. This separates it from WeChat Moments, which only lets users view content posted by their friends.
Users can also search for content under specific hashtags using the WeChat Channels search bar, which is another way they can discover accounts outside of their social circle.
How to get started with WeChat Channels
So, now you know how to access and use the WeChat Channels feed, let’s go ahead and break down how you can create your own WeChat Channel, as an international business.
How to create Channels in WeChat — a step-by-step guide
Step 1: Log into your WeChat account
First, you’ll need to log into your personal WeChat account via the WeChat app.
Even if you have an Official Account on WeChat, Channels have to be opened by personal accounts first, before they can be linked to any brands.
Step 2: Go to the WeChat Channels section
Once you’ve logged into your personal account, click on the ‘Discover’ tab on the main navigation bar, and select ‘WeChat Channels’. This should then take you to the WeChat Channels feed.
Step 3: Click on the camera icon in the top right corner
In the top right corner of the WeChat Channels feed, you should see a small camera icon — click on it, and then click the ‘create channel’ button that appears.
Step 4: Complete your WeChat Channel profile
You’ll then be asked to provide the following details:
- Name (use your brand name)
Fill these in and click ‘create’.
But wait, I didn’t see the camera icon in the top right corner…
As it stands, not all accounts can create their own WeChat Channel. The feature is still being tested, and publishing privileges haven’t yet been extended to every account.
If you haven’t been chosen, don’t worry. You can apply to participate in testing by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Channels internal test + your name’.
In the email, you’ll need to provide the following information:
- Your WeChat account name (personal and Official)
- A personal introduction
- An introduction to your company
- Proof of influence (interaction statistics, follower count, etc)
If your application is successful, you’ll then be able to create a WeChat Channel using your personal account.
How to link your WeChat Channel to your Official Account
Once you’ve opened a personal WeChat Channel, the next step is to link it to your brand’s Official Account. This will turn your WeChat Channel into an Official WeChat Channel for your brand, which you can then use to promote your business.
To do that, you’ll need to take the following steps:
Step 1: Go to the Channels account dashboard
Click on the dashboard icon on the main menu in the WeChat Channels feed.
Step 2: Access the settings menu
Next, click on the ‘…’ icon in the Channels dashboard to access the settings menu.
Step 3: Start the verification process
Then, click on the ‘Verify’ option and select ‘Corporate verification’. This will start the process of verifying your account as an official brand.
Step 4: Link your personal account to your Official Account
After clicking the ‘Corporate verification’ option, a QR code should appear on your screen. An Official Account admin, the person who opened your brand’s Official Account, will then need to scan that code from their phone.
If you’re the Official Account admin, scan the code from another device. If not, you’ll need to make sure that you’re with the admin when you go through this verification process.
Once the admin has scanned the code, your personal account’s WeChat Channel will now function as your brand’s Official WeChat Channel, and you can start posting content to it.
How to start posting to your WeChat Channel
Posting to your WeChat Channel couldn’t be easier.
Simply click on the same camera icon in the top right corner, and post away!
You’ll be able to take new pictures/videos with your camera, or upload already-taken photos/videos on your phone.
Top tips for using WeChat Channels as an overseas brand
Here’s how you can get the most of your WeChat Channel, as an international business…
Link it to your brand’s Official WeChat Account
When a WeChat Channel is linked to an Official Account, it receives a blue tick next to its name and is instantly trusted by users.
This is easily the best way to increase brand awareness on WeChat, as users who discover your Channel will notice the verification tick and might look further into your business.
So, don’t skip the section above, and link your accounts as soon as you can!
Don’t have a WeChat Official Account? Check out our guide to get started.
Use your WeChat Channel to promote your Official Account
Every WeChat Channel post can be uploaded with a link to an article by an Official Account. Use this to your advantage, and promote your Official Account content with your verified WeChat Channel.
This will not only increase your Official Account followers, but will also give you a way to redirect (and capitalize on) any attention your Channel uploads get.
Upload high-quality content
Take some time to upload high-quality posts to your WeChat Channel, and the algorithm could seriously work in your favor.
Because every time a user likes a WeChat Channel post, that post will automatically appear on their friends’ Channel feed, which will significantly increase your audience.
So, go that extra mile and try to create content that is genuinely ‘likeable’, as well as relevant to your business, such as:
- Fun product demonstrations
- KOL collaborations
- Product giveaways (where a like = entry)
Create content around trending hashtags
If you notice a hashtag that’s trending and could be relevant to your business, act fast and create a video around it. This will make your Channel visible to users who are searching for hashtag-specific content, which could significantly expand your audience.
WeChat Channels — the new way for businesses to reach users on WeChat
Setting up a WeChat Channel looks set to become one of the best ways for businesses to generate leads on WeChat in 2021, and beyond.
Need a helping hand?
Create your free AdChina.io account today and we’ll be able to help you open a WeChat Official Account, post high-quality content to it, and link it to your WeChat Channel for maximum results.