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What’s new on WeChat in 2020

Zhang Xiaolong once said, “WeChat is a way of life”. Since its launch in 2011, WeChat has changed the way China communicates and makes purchases (both online and offline). Today, WeChat is also changing the way in which people search for information. What’s new on WeChat in 2020?

WeChat’s new search function

“Service search” – connecting users and businesses

Service Search can be used by both users and businesses. When a user searches for a specific service on WeChat, WeChat will provide service related content. For example,  if the user types “express” into the search bar then any relevant express services will automatically be displayed.  This can reduce the search cost and improve the user’s overall experience.

With regards to business, the introduction of “service search” has dramatically helped to increase the flow entrance of business services and has meant that users have better access to businesses. At present, WeChat’s “service search” is open to all businesses in every industry. Businesses can log in to the WeChat public platform and click “service search” to access the page of interest.

WeChat search function 2020

WeChat says that the main purpose of the “service search” function is to help high-quality services  stand out and be found by more users. With this function, brands are able to attract more foot-flow and therefore, increase brand awareness. WeChat has also been making progress regarding the connection between its users and services.

Developing the search function

The search service is a completely new function within the industry. In May 2020, Alipay launched a search business function to improve the overall search service – but what is the impact of WeChat releasing this function first?

The improvement of WeChat’s strategic search feature is likely to have encouraged other businesses to compete. In 2020, a “search” team first appeared in a WeChat open class. It introduced the WeChat search and made a preview of the “service search” function. In addition, Tencent’s 2019 annual report also focused on WeChat search, stating that it will also focus on this same function in the future. The frequent appearance of “service search” in Tencent’s activities, shows that the Tencent and WeChat teams have attached a level of importance to this feature.

WeChat search has numerous advantages. Regarding the WeChat ecosystem, the main purpose of WeChat search is to provide users and merchants with wider connections. With the development of the WeChat platform and the rapid growth of mini programs, WeChat’s content resources have realized the potential of the platform. Therefore, with the introduction of search functions, WeChat’s high-quality content resources are able to be much more adventurous.

The main competitors of WeChat search are not Baidu, Sogou, or any other general search engines, but instead Alipay.

Described recently in the media as a super app, its ultimate goal is to improve the ecological construction of its own app so that users can meet all their needs in closed apps where possible, and use the search function to achieve linkage between content and mini programs.

WeChat already has public official accounts, mini programs, videos, reading, music, information and many other functions, which all satisfy the basic needs of its users. The introduction of “service search” is to open the connection between users and businesses, and highlight the potential of the ecological closed loop.

WeChat Video Channel

Since the beta test of the video channel in January 2020, a variety of users including global superstars, internet celebrities, KOLs, and ordinary people, found that the video channel is a great way of increasing audience flow and brand awareness.

However, many users are unaware of how to correctly/effectively use the video channel. Although  the specific operating method of the video channel has not yet been clearly stated, WeChat is gradually adjusting and improving the system, which means that users are able to explore it individually.

So how to effectively use the video channel?

We cover a range of topics, from video channel operation and video number content, to making the videos popular:

a) Few technical details about video channel of WeChat

To operate your channel effectively you must be familiar with the basic contents of the video channel.

The duration of a video should not be over 60 seconds otherwise it will be cut off. The video format should be correctly sized: vertical screens should be 1080 x 1230, horizontal screens should be 1080 X 607.5, and the overall size should not exceed 30M.

There is a maximum of 1000 words for each video. Only three lines can be showed at once.

Users are unable to select the cover image individually and can instead only use the first or second video frame as the front image (it is very important for the first frame to look good when editing).

But first you must register the video account.

b) Here’s how to set up the WeChat video account:

  • To enter, click on the video channel entrance below “moments of friends” and select “Avatar”.
  • Select “create video account”. Then fill in the information and complete the necessary video account creation steps.
  • After you’ve created your video account, the video content account can be released. Click on the “camera”, then take the image, etc. or select the material form your library, upload the picture/text/video material, add the location, expand link, and publish.

However, if you select the avatar to enter and find that there is no “create video channel” option, then you won’t have permission to open the video channel. But generally speaking, if you have received the WeChat team’s video channel invitation – you’ll be able to open it.

c) Include public account links in the official account area

When content is released on the video channel, the official account link can be placed in the paperwork area. This is actually a very effective method of advertising your official account, but many people tend not to make full use of this feature.

It is important to note that if you put the official account link in the paperwork area, viewers are able to jump to the official account directly. This means that you can introduce your official account, mini program, personal account, and groups, indirectly – which is a good way to establish your private flow, if you make good use of it.

d) Avoid sharing forbidden content

It is important to not place specific content, nor should you entice users to share “for money” or pay specific attention to some activities that are not welcomed by Tencent. This includes inviting friends to open virtual gift boxes, collecting likes, or lucky draw, etc.

If your video channel doesn’t comply with the rules, then content will be cleared. This includes the cover, head picture, introduction, name, etc.

e) Try not to exaggerate your headlines for attention

Do not publish misleading information in order to attract attention. Titles should not include anything shocking, insulting, dangerous, distressing or untrue, as this is likely to be banned from the platform.

what's new with wechat

How to create your WeChat video channel content

1. Decide the theme of your video content

The content on your video channel should be interesting and appealing. Similar to the short videos on TikTok and Kwai, your content needs to be clear and of a high quality in order to be interesting.

2. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What do you want to achieve by publishing video content in the long run?
  • What kind of users do you want to attract?
  • What can users get from your videos?

When publishing content on the video channel, make sure that it matches your theme.

3. Post high value and emotive content

High quality and emotive content on the video channel will encourage people to like, follow, share, and interact. Such videos are much more likely to have a lasting impact and encourage discussions off the back of it.

It is also good to try to share it with a narrative/subtitles/voiceover, so that users are able to get information subconsciously – making it more relevant to each individual viewer. For example, KOL Li Ziqi (李子柒) who is promoting traditional asian lifestyle went back to her hometown and started to create content on rural life, which made people yearn for it. Now she is as popular as Viya and Austin. This year she her success in content marketing led her to start her own traditional instant noodle company.

li ziqi kol WeChat

4. Post positive content

Positive energy has always been a main theme of content on social platforms – video channels are no different.

Various professionals evaluated the most popular videos on the video channel and attached “emotional labels” to each video.  Among them, positive emotions such as happiness, laughter, kindness, and empathy accounted for the largest proportion of popular videos.

Therefore, when you plan your video content, try to consider the audiences’ emotions when choosing content, background music, pictures and other aspects.

For example, Pan Deng (攀登), a formal CCTV host has started his own video channels (Douyin, WeChat, Weibo) called “spiritual wealth club” about reading, life experiences and fatherhood. His idea went viral and borough him even more fame, recently he invited a China’s top KOL Viya to his studio to talk parenting, his new book and other topics.

viya and pan deng talk show

5. “Chicken soup for the soul” content

Kwai data released a short paper on the trend of short video content marketing in 2020.  The report included data on “TOP500 types of content on Kwai / TikTok”. From this data we can draw the conclusion that entertainment, delicious foods, beautiful girls, and professional knowledge are all popular topics on both TikTok and Kwai.

How to promote your video channel

High quality original content is absolutely vital. But it is also important to find a way to get this content viewed by a wide range of users.

1. Recommendations from friends

Today, the WeChat video channel is still being developed and the mechanism of the recommendation algorithm is also being optimized, which means that there are no direct recommendation rules at present. Therefore, if you want to improve the amount of likes and recommendations you receive, you need to consider your friends’ recommendations.

For example, if your friend follows and likes the video content on a specific page, then this video and other similar videos will also be recommended to you and your friends.

Therefore, if you post a video and share it with your friends, then this same video may be recommended to your friends’ friends – providing a basic referral system or “flow”. Furthermore, the same system will also recommend “flows” for your video content to ensure that you get as many opportunities as possible.

2. Popular video tests

This method is suitable for those who have experience in popular videos.

For example, if you have a video that receives thousands of likes on TikTok or Kwai, and then you release one on WeChat video channel, it is very likely that it will also be very popular because the audience’s preferences are very similar across different platforms.

Note: Do not copy other people’s popular videos. The video channel platform encourages originality, and plagiarism is strictly prohibited.

3. Uniform video covers (feature images)

As previously mentioned, when uploading a video onto the video channel it will take the first frame as the cover image. Therefore, if you are unsure whether the first picture frame is appealing, you can instead design a uniform cover.

4. Authenticity and stability

Some popular video creators started by not focusing on anything in particular and sharing videos based on one’s real life. Like popular vlogs on Douyin/TikTok, recording your daily life is a great way of getting exposure. You can share snippets of your life and present it in an original way.

There is no daily post limit. Therefore, it’s good to try and post something every day so that you have a chance to be recognized and recommended by the platform.

5. Publish your content at a time when the users are active.

Like TikTok and other official accounts, you should try and post videos and content during prime time. According to the popular video analysis, it is best to release videos around 9:00 p.m. as this is when users are most active.

WeChat’s Mini-program live streaming

Recently, WeChat introduced the live streaming mini program.

Businesses that receive a WeChat public invitation are able to access the app’s live broadcast. By logging into the mini program, businesses are able to check whether they have received the public test invitation in the “function” section.

Due to its handy plug-in function, the opening of the mini program live broadcast is much simpler and more convenient than other platforms. Once the live broadcast mini program has been accessed, the business can operate quickly and directly with the simple cooperation of the host end and PC background. Also, businesses do not need to provide live broadcast qualifications in when signing up.

new on WeChat in 2020

How to open the mini program live broadcast:

At the moment WeChat mini program is only functioning as an e-commerce platform and online business retail stores.

  1. The main categories on the mini programs that are available for merchants application at the moment:
  • Food and drink
  • Primary and intermediate edible agricultural products
  • Books, newspapers and magazines
  • Audio-visual products
  • Film and television production
  • Mobile games
  • Japanese animation
  • Cars
  • Clothing and shoes
  • Luggage goods
  • Small toys / maternity and infant products
  • household appliances
  • Digital technology
  • Mobile phones
  • Beauty and skin care
  • Washing products
  • Jewelry
  • Fitness products
  • Outdoor
  • Musical instruments,
  • Bouquets / gardening flowers
  • Home furniture / home accessories / textiles
  • Office / stationery,
  • Mechanical equipment / electronic components
  1. There has been no serious violation of any regulations over recent months
  2. The account has payment behavior in nearly 90 days
  3. The total number of fans on the WeChat official account exceeds 100
  4. The number of active users on the account is more than 100 for seven days
  5. Within the WeChat ecosystem, the advertising consumption over last 12 months exceeds 10K RMB.

How to improve the quality of the interface when users watch?

  1. Ensure that there is a fixed IP and cloud for live broadcast
  2. Use the front camera on your phone for clarity
  3. Enhance your lighting on the live broadcast

WeChat Store

What's new on WeChat in 2020

Is deposit required for store opening?

There is no deposit, fee or service charge required

Small store function: The WeChat small store is a new capability which can help businesses generate sales with no app development, zero cost and little effort. It provides product information publishing, sales, small program live broadcasts, order management, transaction settlement, logistics track, after-sales, live delivery info and other functions.

Store opening requirements: WeChat’s small stores support enterprises, self-employed businesses, and individuals. Tencent started the internal test application for enterprises and individual businesses, and will gradually open individual store applications in the future.

At present, it is only available for WeChat certified service accounts and users who have successfully applied for WeChat payment merchants.  Enterprises and individual businesses that have received the invitation for internal testing can complete registration by clicking the invitation link, and provide relevant identification and qualification certificates.

Note: During the internal testing period, enterprises can open up to 50 small stores, and individual businesses can open up to 5. Besides, one Wechat number can only support registration once.

What are the advantages of delivery in WeChat small stores?

1. Incomparable flow advantage

According to the latest authoritative data, WeChat’s monthly live flow is as high as 980 million! With regards to online stores, online business is not limited by geographical restrictions, but instead by popularity restrictions. Therefore, online stores should be opened on large-flow platform such as WeChat, to ensure that the shop is exposed to as many users as possible.

2. WeChat is low risk

WeChat is easy to operate, has a low threshold and is a low risk platform. To set up your very own WeChat store, you need to set up your own WeChat service number and operate the binding in the background. After uploading details about your goods, your store will become available for customers.

HI-COM is a multilingual communication agency dedicated to providing China specific social media communication and e-commerce marketing services to businesses around the world. Working with more than 100 brands, HI-COM is the go-to partner of companies that want to enter China market!  Contact us for your free consultation today!

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JasonWhat’s new on WeChat in 2020

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