Trend report of the top 500 WeChat Official Account

Tingyi Chen WeChat news

The Fortune 500 list is relatively stable. Every time a new company makes it to the top 500, the media celebrates. But in the extremely competitive Chinese social media environment, making it to the top 500 could just be temporary glory. Newcomers could take your place anytime.

Newranks tracks the performance of the 500 top-performing WeChat Official Accounts every month. They compared the data between April 2017 and the same time last year, and reached a surprising conclusion.

Highlights include:

  • 75% of top performing accounts last year decreased in ranking in 2017
  • Only 55% of the accounts stayed in the top 500 list for two consecutive years
  • Average reading number decreased by 5,257; while like number increased by 138
  • Media-type accounts make up 24% of all accounts which got better rankings
  • % of original content articles increased from 8.7% in 2016 to 11.2% in 2017
  • % of audio content increased from 2.1% in 2016 to 4.8% in 2017
  • 12 of the top accounts were deleted or banned due to various reasons

When we refer to “Ranking” in this article, we refer to the Newrank index which is a formula based on various engagement and growth metrics for the account.

Engagement Trend of top 500 WeChat Accounts

Over 1 year, WeChat added 175 million Monthly Active Users. So how comes the average articles’ views decreased by 5,257 views per article?

Truth is, the Official Account market is increasingly competitive. This decrease in view number could be caused either by more Official Accounts competing for users’ attention; or due to the fact that people are less willing to share good articles on WeChat Moments.

However the average like number increased by 138 per article. Increasing amount of accounts are encouraging followers to like their articles and engage with the account.

Accounts in general publish 7 articles less per month. It could be due to the fact that content creators are spending more time to produce higher quality articles rather than just focusing on the numbers.

Overall trend of the top 500 WeChat accounts

Among the top performing accounts in 2016, 75% of them decreased in ranking this year. Only 21% of accounts moved up in ranking this year. The decrease was mostly caused by increasing quality of other accounts and the viral and unpredicable nature of social media trends.

How much did the ranking change?

Compared to last year, only 274 accounts managed to remain in the top 500. Event the most popular accounts have to constantly adapt their content to engage with users and keep them interested.

The account which saw the biggest improvement is Global Times (环球时报), ranking increased by 428 year over year.

TripAdvisor on the other hand lost 15,584 points. Last year, almost every article got more than 100k article views; compared with only ~10k views recently. It’s a typical effect of stopping the use of “Zombie followers” in order to meet KPI’s, and focusing on content strategy to generate real followers.

Media type of accounts stands out in the new top 500 accounts

Among the 104 best-performing accounts this year, 24% are media accounts. It’s a strong indicator that the Chinese media is shifting focus from the traditional print TV and radio to WeChat. Media accounts have the natural advantage of having full-time reporters to create timely and original content.

Content trend of top 500 WeChat accounts

% of original content increased from 8.7% to 11.2% in a year. It’s very clear that the accounts with increasing in ranking produce a lot more (16.4%) original content than those with decreasing ranking accounts’ (9.7%).

More accounts are publishing audio content, 4.8% in 2017 compared with 2.1% in 2016.

Among the accounts with increasing ranking, 7.6% are publishing audio content. This is still a new form of content creation, and companies could try to re-purpose old content in audio format

Conclusion

Overall, the competition among the top 500 WeChat Official Accounts competition is getting fiercer. But this might be a good thing for marketers: more competition also means you have more choices of KOLs to choose from.

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