WeChat public accounts: what is the difference between subscription and service accounts?

Thomas Graziani WeChat guides & tips

WeChat has grown into the biggest and most influential social network in China, with over 889 million active users.

When you are thinking through your WeChat strategy, one of the first tough decisions to make is to pick between subscription account and service account. This choice is important as it will shape your content marketing strategy.

What is the difference between subscription and service WeChat public accounts?

At first sight, there is one major difference between subscription and service accounts:
– Subscription accounts are less visible and can send one message per day
– Service accounts are more visible but can send only four messages per month

WeChat Public Account Creation

You can two ways of creating WeChat Public Account that’s visible within China:

  1. Apply using your Chinese business license (or a 3rd party Chinese license)
  2. Using a overseas license to apply

The following graph shows the difference for the two options.

Here is a step-by-step simple guide to create a WeChat Public Account.

The second option is a case-by-case application that’s submit by WalktheChat to Tencent’s internal team. It is only available for companies from limited countries: Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Germany, France, England, Italy, United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Note for some countries, Tencent will request the company to also invest in advertising in order to create an account.

WalktheChat charges 1000 USD service fee for creation an oversea official account. Contact info@walkthechat.com to learn more.

*Note: WeChat Public Account also have an international version that’s only visible for users outside of China. You can create such account via admin.wechat.com using your overseas business license. Once this account is created, you will not be able to switch it to a China-visible Public Account.

Detailed functions of WeChat public accounts

There are much more differences between subscription and services WeChat public accounts. You can find a list of these differences in the table bellow.

Due to the limitations of subscription accounts, service accounts will be more efficient at collecting data from users and using this data to send them targeted marketing. They will also enable more complex functions to be implemented by their ability to collect users id from html5 pages, geo-localization and voice-recognition. Certified service accounts can also have multiple QR code linking to the same account: this enables to track the source of your followers (which followers are adding your account through an ad, from a VIP area of a club, etc…). Only service accounts can benefit from the payment system introduced in WeChat by Tencent.

Although subscription accounts can appear as extremely limited from reading this chart, they are still a good fit for organizations for which sending one message per day is key: this is the price to pay to be able to reach the user on a daily basis.

The general rule is: if you have a lot of timely sensitive information to publish everyday, you should choose Subscription account; otherwise choose Service account.

Further considerations

Other considerations may impact your choice of which kind of WeChat public account to pick. For instance Sogou unveiled a search engine for WeChat public accounts which is only listing content from WeChat public subscription accounts. This search engine is barely used today, if it were to become more popular (for instance if it were to be integrated to WeChat core), it would then make subscription accounts significantly more attractive.

The new ads scheme for WeChat public accounts is also a potential reason to choose a subscription accounts. Although the revenues generated from the scheme are limited at this stage, subscription accounts are more likely to profit it as they can post on a daily basis.

Can I change the type of the WeChat Public Account?  Switch from Subscription to Service

Yes, you can switch the type of account.

And here are the two ways you can do it:

  1. For Subscription Account registered in 2016 or later, you can simply go to the WeChat Public Account backend to change the type of the account: 设置- 公众号设置- 类型  Your account will need to be verified. Note once you upgrade to Service Account, you will not be able to update
  2. You can transfer all of your followers to another WeChat public Account. Learn more about how to transfer your followers to another WeChat public account.

Conclusion

Subscription accounts:
Subscription accounts are a good choice for companies or individuals for which content is the core service provided to customers: ability to publish daily is a key feature and other features provided by the account are more limited 

Service accounts
Service accounts are more appropriate for companies aiming at providing a wider set of services through WeChat: customer service, e-commerce, games, or other interactive feature. Content can be provided but it is not the core service 

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