WeChat Channel 101

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For years, short video in China has been synonymous with two names: Douyin(the Chinese version of ByteDance’s TikTok), and Kuaishou(Tencent-backed app). But in this year, a new challenger – WeChat’s new short video feature dubbed Channels, which came in the game only last year, has been steadily accumulating millions of users.

What is WeChat Channels(微信视频号)?

WeChat Channels is a newly launched short video platform within the WeChat ecosystem enabling users, influencers and brands to create and post videos that are within 1 minute long, or pictures within 9 pictures.

Located in the app’s “Discover” tab just like Wechat Moments, users can like, comment, forward and favorite the top-trending videos and follow the publishers including celebrities, vloggers, craftsman, etc.

The top menu of the Channels is divided into three parts: Following, Friends Likes, and Hot, and these three items correspond to interest, social distribution, and algorithm recommendation respectively.

WeChat Channels entrance and user interface

Is the Wechat Channels an ideal marketing place?

The answer is a definite YES. Channels is the latest project of WeChat, being launched after Wechat Official Accounts” and “Wechat Mini Programs“, and is positioned as a strong competitor against the mainstream short video platforms. The two aforementioned projects have become ecological traffic platforms, there is high expectation that Channels become a third. But what exactly does it mean to marketers?

  1. An untapped field

To most marketers, Channels is an untouched field. Only a few dozen brands have setup this platform, and even fewer of these brands have posted on it. This means everyone is starting from zero at this time on Wechat Channels. As with all social media platforms, the earlier you establish yourself, the better the outcome can be. Now it’s high time you tap your first mover’s advantage.

2. Ideal place to visually promote your brand

With the increasing popularity of live broadcasts and short videos, traditional media are also changing their presenting models. Traditional media that use pictures and texts as the communication form before have sought breakthroughs through video communication form. The information contained in short videos is richer, more stereoscopic, and more vivid. For brands, the commercial marketing value of Channels is even more obvious. Compared with WeChat official accounts, the advantage of Channels is that short videos can create a more intuitive and distinctive three-dimensional brand image.

3. “Earned media”

If you are just starting to do short video marketing, Wechat Channels can be a better choice than Douyin and Kuaishou. On the latter two, you are starting from scratch, and it’s very difficult to make a difference with small follower base. But with Wechat Channel you are cropping on your gained reputation from Wechat official accounts and Wechat Mini Programs. If you have 1000 friends on WeChat, it will definitely be easier for you to start your Channels marketing. Videos and photos in Channels can be shared with friends and WeChat groups in a friendly form similar to Mini Program cards. It also supports forwarding to the WeChat Moment and spreading.

WeChat Channels content sharing card

The Channels also has the function to be linked with the official account articles, and the official account can be associated with a mini program. In the WeChat ecology, the Channels-the Official Account-the Mini Program, a perfect closed loop is formed from customer acquisition to transaction. Consumers who are interested in the product in the video of Channels will click on the link to the official account and jump directly to the details, and finally complete the order in the mini program.

4. Traffic express way

As a new platform, WeChat will allocate its traffic to the Channels as much as possible. And that’s true, Channels is highly valued by WeChat since born.

  • Not launched as a separate APP, but as an application embedded to WeChat;
  • The entrance of Channels is located below the WeChat Moment, and a small red dot is added as a strong reminder;
  • It can appear in scenes that users frequently use such as WeChat groups, Moments, etc.;
  • In the WeChat ecosystem, platform like Search is also driving traffic to Channels.

Far from what is listed, according to Science Innovation Board Daily(《科创板日报》), WeChat is internally testing a mini program called “Channels Advertising“(视频号推广), which is aimed to help users promote Channels quickly and efficiently and increase exposure. WeChat is constantly improving the function of Channels.

A WeChat mini program called “Channels Advertising”视频号推广

Future development of Channals

The Channels is backed by WeChat, a platform with a billion-level highly active users. All WeChat users are the potential users of Channels. From the current situation, Tencent seems to want to build Channels as a “WeChat Official Account” level of content platform, and this content is called short content. It can be foreseen that the Channals will become the next billion-level traffic platform.

Joy is the Account Manager in Jademond,. She writes about all subjects from China online marketing practices to the latest Chinese technology unicorns.

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