WeChat is the place for building trust with existing and potential customers, and brands do this through their Official Accounts. These broadcasts are like the Chinese version of email campaigns. People expect to hear from and interact with brands on the WeChat platform, so OA broadcasts are an essential component in the customer journey.
WeChat articles offer a rich array of interactive elements, like embedded videos and images that transform with a tap. Some articles are even in a horizontal presentation so that users have to turn their phones to read them! These engaging experiences are expected and welcomed by Chinese audiences and offer great opportunities for brands to connect with their users. Below, we'll cover the fundamental elements found in articles and look at some best-in-class examples from the financial industry.
- WeChat Article Basics
- How It Works
- Basic Structure
- Interactive Elements
- Comment Engagement
- Article Structure Best Practice
- Creative Article Teasers
- Essential Components
01. WeChat Article Basics
How It Works
Brands have two different choices when it comes to an official WeChat account: Service or Subscription.
Subscription accounts allow the brand to send as many broadcasts as they would like. However, the broadcasts appear within the Subscriptions chat on a user's home screen, meaning users must first click on that chat before seeing any new messages. Usually, blogs and news services choose this type of account.
Brands seeking higher engagement use Service accounts. These Official Accounts appear just like a chat with a friend on users' home screens. When there's a new message, it will alert the user and go to the top of the home screen just like any other contact. Plus, when the user opens the chat, a menu bar at the bottom of the screen allows brands to connect them to Mini Programs, websites, and other resources. Users can send messages to the brand within the chat and access customer service immediately.
However, Service accounts are limited to four broadcasts per month. Accounts usually spread these broadcasts out to about one per week. However, it is also typical to use several within one week surrounding a special event, like a much-anticipated livestream or pop-up location.
Each broadcast can have between one and eight articles (this would display as one main article with seven sub-articles). Although sub-articles tend to have significantly lower open rates than main articles, more sub-articles do lead to an overall higher amount of reads than having only one article. Accounts may send a video or image in place of an article.
Articles are usually text-based with plenty of embedded images, videos, and interactive elements (which we'll explore below). However, it's not unusual for an article to be entirely image-based. Image-based articles can also be presented horizontally so that users must turn their phones to view them.
Interactive elements are one of the advantages of WeChat broadcasts. Users can swipe through images, scroll embedded sections, watch videos, and tap to transform images. By requiring physical interaction from users to explore the content, brands make a deeper connection with their readers. Not only are these elements more engaging than typical email campaigns, but they can also link to Mini Programs, WeChat Channels videos, and websites for data binding and increased engagement.
Interactive elements include:
- Swiping through images
- Tap-to-reveal or tap-to-transform images
- Horizontal presentation
- Scrolling mini-sections
- Linked media cards to Mini Programs and WeChat Channels
- Linked images to websites
At the bottom of each article, users have several options for interaction. They can share with their WeChat contacts, add the article to their Favorites section, “Like” the article, or give it a “Wow.” The Wow button adds the article to their Top Stories, which their contacts can see. Users can also leave a comment or like another user’s comment.
One compelling way brands get greater engagement and return reads from users is by holding comments-based competitions and giveaways. Near the end of an article, a brand may ask its users to answer a question, share an idea, or tell a short story. The brand account can then respond to and pin comments. At a cut-off date, a random selection or comments with the most likes will receive prizes. Not only does this encourage users to participate and interact with one another, but frequent competitions also motivate readers to open upcoming articles.
02. Article Structure Best Practice
Creative Article Teasers
Brands can coordinate imagery to create weekly themes. We love this example below, where the characters from each sub-article image spell out a unique phrase every week.
An article should include these essential components:
- Localized, Chinese style – Chinese internet users have different expectations than users in the West. It is best to localize your imagery to make a genuine connection with your potential customers.
- Stylized, easy-to-read graphs and visualized data – For example, when we researched FX brands on WeChat, we found that the number one engagement offering was market analysis. While this will vary across financial and other industries, it's crucial to provide as much relevance and value as possible to your readers. Competition on WeChat is fierce, with most users following fewer than twenty Official Accounts.
- Embedded images and videos – WeChat users expect highly engaging content, so it’s essential to go beyond text.
- A call-to-action – QR codes are king for connecting users to other resources and gaining new followers. Mini Program cards or image-based links to websites at the end of an article are also standard.