WeChat, China’s top marketing platform for many luxury brands, is reportedly reforming the format of the subscription account to make it look more like a news feed, according to domestic media. A news-style feed, which better fits with Chinese users’ reading habits, is poised to benefit brands using the app by enhancing the open rate of content and thus, increasing the effectiveness of communication.
According to an article by Chinese media Sina Finance on October 19, the above change is said to be on the way by Tencent, the app’s owner. Subscribers to WeChat’s subscription accounts, which is the second of the two types of public accounts—the other is the service account—will receive real-time updates of posts in a news-style, making the system more interactive and user-friendly. Currently, WeChat groups subscription feed under the same tab on the app’s homepage. Subscribers need to manually click on the accounts they follow to read the most recent posts.
Jing Daily has reached out to Tencent for comment about the reported new feature and will update if we hear back.
In recent years, brands and marketers have looked to WeChat as an effective one-to-one communication tool they can utilize to engage with followers, manage customer relationships (CRM) and sell products. The closed ecosystem that WeChat presents, however, has made it harder for brands’ information to go viral as easily as it does on open platforms such as Weibo.
In addition, many marketers view the value offered by subscription accounts as far too basic. The current system, which allows an account to publish one message per day, offers no push notifications. Furthermore, subscribers are then passive receivers of the post, making it difficult for brands to encourage readers to keep checking back.
Several recent moves by WeChat show that the app is catching on to make information flow more actively and flexibly. The same article said the “Search” and “Top Stories” features, added to the app in May this year, were evidence that WeChat has gradually loosened its control on the flow of information.
According to the data intelligence company L2, the above two features have increased the post readership on brands’ official accounts. Its latest consumer packaged goods (CPG) brand report shows that the percentage of WeChat posts gaining less than 5,000 pageviews dropped to 66.6 percent in 2017 from 81.6 percent in 2016.