Comparison: WeChat Official Account vs WhatsApp Business

wechat official account

By Alvin Mak

The pros and cons of both platforms to help you find the perfect business interface for your company.

How do you stay on top of customer feedback at all times? How can your startup most easily connect with new clientele? How do you maintain your business’s online presence?

Currently, the two best free interfaces for all these common business concerns are WeChat Official Subscription Accounts and WhatsApp Business. Depending on your startup’s identity, one may be a better fit than the other. What are the advantages and drawbacks of each?

Here is our guide to choosing the right app for you.

Audience size matters

WhatsApp’s dominant presence worldwide cannot be dismissed. It is the most popular messaging app in 104 countries and currently has 2 billion users worldwide, rapidly approaching parent company Facebook’s 2.5 billion 2019 fourth quarter milestone. With 65 billion messages sent per day on the platform, it is undeniable that a WhatsApp Business account could allow your business to communicate with people from all over the world.

WhatsApp Business also provides unlimited messaging, along with promotional broadcasts to up to 256 people, as long as your client has previously messaged you first, so as to prevent spam messages.

WeChat Official Subscription Accounts, however, limit your ability to post. Subscription users can post once a day, with 1-6 articles each post. These posts are also relegated to the subscription folder of a user’s contacts, therefore reducing visibility. Higher visibility options are reserved for WeChat’s Official Service Accounts, tailored to larger international companies with more advanced APIs.

One thing to consider however, is WeChat’s significant usage across Greater China. Chinese users reportedly spend more than one-third of their online time on the platform. As a result, WeChat could be a huge advantage for businesses looking to tap into the massive potential of the Chinese ecommerce market.

Using the platform

A large plus of the WhatsApp Business app is its simplicity when it comes to registration. A business owner only requires a unique phone number. Unfortunately, this has potential to be inconvenient, especially for users without multiple mobile phones or the capacity for multiple sim cards.

On the other hand, WeChat requires a Chinese domestic business license; overseas business licenses are only accepted by WeChat’s Official Service Accounts.

WeChat’s extra requirement however, does signal more effective control of spam accounts which one may encounter on WhatsApp. Your business’ presence on WeChat therefore represents a seal of legitimacy: a potentially valuable asset.

User interface

While WhatsApp excels at being a messaging app, that is fundamentally all it is: a pure texting platform. It is currently in the process of rolling out WhatsApp Pay, a function that allows payment from one contact to another through WhatsApp’s texting interface. Ultimately however, it lacks the ability to provide more interactive user experiences. This is where WeChat truly shines.

WeChat’s specialty is its diversity of user experiences. Not only can users message each other, but they can share posts from the platform, and connect to other ridesharing, online shopping, and food delivery third party services. Users can also interact with public services such as visa registration. Payment is made easy with WeChat Pay.

Imagine Facebook’s status updates, Instagram’s photo sharing and direct messaging, and WhatsApp’s private messaging, with a side of unique “mini programs,” all in one interface. What you get is WeChat: the next level of connectivity.

The result of such a diverse platform is unparalleled interaction. Subscription accounts aren’t completely reliant on their daily post for outreach. Scannable QR codes, banner ads, and sponsored content from key opinion leaders (KOL’s) are all available features that are both native to WeChat’s platform, and effectively redirect users to your page. Not to mention the direct access your clientele could potentially have to your shop, which is integrated directly into WeChat’s interface.

Your decision ultimately boils down to the demographic of your brand’s target audience. If expanding globally, WhatsApp Business’ universality undoubtedly has the power to reach far. However, within Mainland China, the clientele interactivity and connectivity of WeChat’s Official Accounts reigns supreme. The platform’s popularity and ecosystem ingenuity could hugely benefit online brand presence and operations.

Header image by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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