What’s the Difference Between a WeChat Services Account and a Subscription Account?

WeChat services vs subscription accounts
WeChat home screen with subscription & services accounts

If WeChat isn’t a part of your marketing strategy, you’re missing out on the 5th most popular social network globally — coming in ahead of even the likes of Instagram. Although it can take some time to learn the ins and outs of a new social network, WeChat’s global 1.2bn monthly active users (read: potential readers of your content) are nothing to scoff at.

You may be thinking most of these users reside in China, and therefore aren’t in your target audience. However, about 5% of Canadians identify as Chinese, which equates to about 1.77 million people. WeChat and other Tencent properties have 1.4 million monthly active users in Canada alone. It is safe to assume a significant portion of these have families with which they communicate back in China. Since Facebook, Google, or WhatsApp can’t be used because of China’s firewall against such applications, WeChat is the main way people communicate with their families overseas. As you can see, this platform has huge potential to reach a new market ahead of your competitors.

There are two types of Official Accounts a business can create on WeChat: Subscription Accounts and Services Accounts. Due to the many rules and regulations in China, opening a WeChat business account is very different than creating a simple Facebook page.

Keep reading to discover the differences between these types of accounts and learn which is best for your business, so you can take advantage of a new market and ultimately get more customers. What are you waiting for?

WeChat Services Account

WeChat Services Accounts are the most popular choice for businesses that offer products or services, and who wish to sell these to the Chinese market. Businesses are able to fully customize their profile for the most intuitive navigation and brand recognition for their followers with this type of account.

In the main ‘chats’ home screen interface, Services Accounts appear in the same area as friend chats, making them highly visible. This type of account can send its followers push notifications, with a limit of 4 per month, and up to 8 articles per message.

Harry Rosen, WeChat services account
Harry Rosen Canada’s WeChat Services Account

It sounds strange to have to limit your content to a measly 4 notifications per month with only 8 articles per message. However, ‘articles’ here refers to the content you’ll be posting on your account. WeChat typically favours long-form content — think blog posts versus thought-snippets like Tweets. 

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes — if a large shoe retailer you follow pushes out 8 1200-word articles per week, would you read them all? Us neither. So use your allotted content sparingly, or else you may bore your customers to death and risk being unfollowed.

Another ability of Services Accounts is that they support API and JavaScript functionalities such as e-commerce, geo-localizations, voice recognition, multi-QR code linking to the same account for tracking purposes, and more.

This account type may be right for your business if you’re a service-oriented company with a focus on maintaining customer relationships through messaging, e-commerce, or in-app games (called mini-programs in WeChat). Some examples of industries that could benefit from a Services Account could be retail, grocery, non-profits, real-estate developers, et cetera.

WeChat Subscription Account

WeChat Subscription accounts have different functionalities than a Services Account. These can be found under a ‘Subscriptions’ folder in the home screen of the ‘chats’ section, as indicated in the above image. As you may have noticed, they aren’t as visible as Services Accounts because they aren’t located in the same folder as friend chats, nor do they send push notifications to followers. 

You may be thinking, what’s the point of a Subscription Account in this case? One great advantage of Subscription Accounts over Services Accounts is that companies are able to increase posting frequency to once per day. This is advantageous for content-focused companies that handle time-sensitive information.

BC Bay, WeChat subscription account
BC Bay, a British Columbia news source, has a Subscription Account: 7 articles displayed on the screen with the newest, most prominent article at the top

Because content is the focus of subscription accounts, it would make sense the most recent posts are at the top of one’s subscription feed. Thus, posting as frequently as possible will ensure your articles are visible to your followers.

A disadvantage of subscription accounts is that entities based outside of China cannot register for a Subscription Account. It is still possible to register for a Subscription Account, but the business license must belong to a 3rd party Chinese entity.

This type of Official Account is best for information-based businesses such as media publications or bloggers.

WeChat Services vs Subscription account chart
Comparing WeChat Subscription vs Services Accounts

How to Register for a WeChat Official Account

Prior to 2018, overseas businesses weren’t allowed to register for and own their WeChat Official Accounts. All non-Chinese accounts were either owned by marketing agencies or third-party Chinese intermediaries.

Since the restriction has been lifted, registering for a WeChat Official Account as a Western business comes with a price. It is not as simple as creating a LinkedIn business page. Due to China’s laws and regulations, Tencent (the conglomerate that owns WeChat) requires its registrants to jump through many hoops before handing over the rights to post on WeChat. Some of the documents required include:

  • An official Tencent application form
  • Incorporation documents
  • Notice of Articles
  • Photo ID of the account manager
  • 3 months of mobile phone bills of the account manager
  • Annual registration update
  • $99 USD yearly verification fee

These documents take time to prepare and submit, with sometimes a few back-and-forths if they aren’t up to Tencent’s standards.

In Conclusion

These two types of WeChat Official Accounts serve different purposes depending on your organizational goals. As a busy Western business, navigating a new social network can be intimidating and time-consuming — especially when most of the content is in Chinese! 
To grow your business with the help of a WeChat marketing strategy, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of the platform and Chinese culture to accurately represent your brand. At Periphery, one of our key service offerings involves creating and growing our clients’ WeChat accounts. Our clients come to us for our proven results and stay for the five-star service, but don’t take our word for it — contact us today to learn more about how our WeChat experts can help you break into an untapped market and take your business to new heights.

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