WeChat Channels Features

WeChat Channels Features: Most Comprehensive Guide in 2024

WeChat Channels is an ideal place for brands to engage with their audience via short videos. In fact, short videos are trending and more than 50% of social media marketers use short-form videos to reach their target group.

That’s why today, the China specialists at WeChat Advertising with more than 15 years of experience in China marketing give you a full tour of the features of WeChat Channels in this comprehensive guide. And most importantly, we will show you exactly how to use WeChat Channels for marketing for your local or overseas brand.

So, let’s dive right in.

Why Brands Should be on WeChat in the First Place

With more than 1.3 billion monthly active users (MAU), WeChat is an integral part of everyday life in China. Started in 2011 by Tencent, businesses basically cannot afford to miss having a presence on China’s super-app for everything, from messaging to payment, events, services, and more.

  • Large market penetration, mostly in China, but also worldwide
  • Seamless e-commerce integration, e.g. through mini-apps
  • Precise targeting of ads
  • Endless variety of options to engage with your audience, e.g. group chats, automated messages

WeChat makes it easy to raise your brand awareness, drive leads, and boost sales in China, provided that you know what you are doing.

What are WeChat Channels?

Released in 2020, WeChat Video Accounts (WeChat Channels or 微信视频号) are a popular place for users to post videos with a length of up to 30 minutes and 2GB, although the most engaging videos are 15-60 seconds long. Surprisingly, you can also publish photos (up to 9 pictures) on WeChat Channels.

The Channels feature within the WeChat app is similar to Douyin (Chinese TikTok), and Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book).

Let’s take a look at how the WeChat Channels feature compares to popular Chinese social media apps (Q2/2024). This data isn’t all available in one place, so take these with a grain of salt.

WeChatWeChat ChannelsDouyinXiaohongshu
Daily active users (DAU)710 million490 million750 million100 million
Daily average use82 minutes60 minutes
(75% of time on WeChat!)
45 minutes30 minutes

Now, do we have your attention? Let’s take a look at what Video Accounts on WeChat actually look like.

WeChat Channels Features: Full Tour

WeChat has several key functions including (group) chat, Official Accounts, Moments (newsfeed), WeChat Pay, mini-programs, search, and short videos – WeChat Channels.

Click on the tab Discover and select Channels to view short videos, much like on TikTok or Instagram reels (both of which are blocked in China).

You can choose to see videos from profiles that you follow, friends, and hot (trending) topics. 

Besides, there is also a search feature, which can be quite useful. Keep in mind that the Chinese internet is siloed. This basically means that if content is posted on WeChat, it is very unlikely to turn up as a result when searching for it on Baidu, the Chinese Google. Note that this search function goes beyond video results, and will also provide links to articles, Moments posts, as well as additional search suggestions. 

Keep in mind that from a marketing point of view, search is a key factor for users to find and engage with your content and brand. Therefore, all WeChat content of your business should be optimized for search (keywords, hashtags, tags, regular updates).

Finally, there are user settings, which are geared towards content creators to monitor their impact.

WeChat Channels Features: WeChat Channels menu

A thumbs up is an expression of support to the creator by the user and a way to tell WeChat “Hey, I like this content. Show me more of it.” Other users and your friends will not see the thumbs up (like).

The heart basically serves the same purpose with a more emotional connotation. Other users and friends will see the heart. And, by the way, look at the cute bunny! 

You can also follow accounts, share the video, and comment.

WeChat Channel ads can be found at the bottom of the video as an overlay or in the comments.

Posting on WeChat Channels

Posting a video or photos is quick, easy, and pretty much self-explanatory. You can post content to WeChat Channels from your phone or your laptop/computer.

Go to your account settings (top right corner in Channels) and then click on Post Activity at the bottom. There you can enter your channel’s name, gender (optional), region (optional), and select if your Channel should show up on your “My Contact Card”. Then, click Create

The format on WeChat Channels is vertical videos.

WeChat Channels Features - WeChat Channels Profile - WeChat Advertising

You can add the following elements to your Channels post

  • Description: keep it short (maximum 600 characters)
  • Hashtags: focus on most important ones (maximum 3)
  • Location: usually helps to boost exposure
  • Mention: tag other Channels accounts, ideal for collaboration and added exposure
  • Link: to article, red packet, or live streaming
  • Publication: publish immediately or schedule your post

This is how you upload a video:

WeChat Channels Upload Video WeChat Advertising

Next, let’s take a look at the backend. This is where creators can post content, engage with fans, and check their analytics.

WeChat Channels Backend

After you log in, you will see the WeChat Channels dashboard. This is an example of Tait’s Channels backend. He is the Founder of Nanjing Marketing Group.

WeChat Channels Features Backend 1

Top/right side

  • Account information: Name, profile ID, number of videos (155), number followers (29906)
  • Data of last 24 hours: Increase in followers (6), video plays (9278), number of hearts (21), comments (19)
  • Recent videos and metrics: views, hearts, comments, shares, likes

You may notice that the number of views etc. varies greatly. According to our experience, on short video platforms, content from one account typically gets around the same number of views. Some videos have the potential to skyrocket, but even with highly crafted content, this is not 100% predictable.

Left menu

  • Home
  • Content Management
    • Video: list of all videos including metrics, publish 
    • Music
    • Audio
    • Events
    • Homepage
  • Interactions
    • Comments
    • Bullet Comments
  • Direct Messages
  • Member Area
  • Commodity Window
  • Live Broadcast
  • Data Center (Analytics)
    • Follower Cata
    • Video Data
    • Brought Data
  • Trends
  • Settings
  • Extended Functions

Publish a video in the Content Management section

You can set the same parameters as in the WeChat app that we have explained above (description, location, links within WeChat, and so on) with even more options.

WeChat Channels Features Backend 2

Manage Comments

You can like and respond to comments to engage and interact with your audience and followers.

WeChat Channels Features Backend 3

Bullet Comments

Real-time interactions, where offensive or inappropriate comments are usually filtered and deleted by WeChat. Keep an eye on it though to keep your Channel the way you want it.

WeChat Channels Features Backend 4

Direct Messages

Unlike on WeChat Official Accounts, you can initiate direct messages on WeChat Channels, and converse even after 10 days of no interaction.

However, DMs are archived after one month without interaction. This is where a CRM tool to manage customer relations centrally can come in handy, so you never miss an interaction and potential client/sales.

WeChat Channels Features Backend 5

Data Center (Analytics)

Learn more about your followers, video performance, and more in this part of the WeChat Channels backend.

WeChat Channels Features Backend 6

Select the video and time range to view the development of followers.

WeChat Channels Features Backend 7
WeChat Channels Features Backend 8

You can also learn more about your audience, for example, demographics, devices, and so on. On WeChat, the audience tends to be older compared to other users, for example, on Douyin.

WeChat Channels Features Backend 9

In the video data section, you can find key indicators in terms of plays, hearts, likes, and so forth. What we find particularly useful is the source distribution. This tells you how users find your Channel.

In our example, netizens find the Channel mainly by recommended videos, which resembles a trend on many short video platforms. Other sources are subscription notifications, friends “hearting” the content, and shares.

WeChat Channels Features Backend 10
WeChat Channels Features Backend 11
WeChat Channels Features Backend 12

Let’s take a look at the analytics of one particular video.

Set your selection criteria (data type, time) and click on the button on the very right.

WeChat Channels Features Backend 13

Now, you can see more information about the video, the audience retention rate, and data trends.

  • Percentage of people who watch the video until the end (26%)
  • Average time that the video was watched (46 seconds)
  • Views (60,000)
  • Hearts (137) – public like
  • Likes (206) – private like
  • Comments (138)
  • Followers based on this video (107)
  • Content shared (167 people)
  • Published video to their moments area (0)
WeChat Channels Features Backend 14

The audience retention rate is on a very high level on WeChat Channels compared to Douyin, for example, which makes it harder to analyze, where exactly you lost your audience.

The drop-off rate within the first second is very high (think “doom scrolling”). This underlines the importance of having eye-catching and disruptive information right at the beginning of a video.

WeChat Channels Features Backend 15

The trends of the data show the life cycle of a short video. The interaction rate is usually very high right after the video is published and then quite rapidly goes down and fades out.

This may be different, especially if the videos are optimized for search and contain useful tips. In this case, the video traffic may also increase over time.

WeChat Channels Features Backend 16

Watch Tait explain all this in detail in this video on WeChat Channels backend.

Now, let’s take a look at what type of content performs well on WeChat video accounts.

WeChat Channels Features: Trends

The latest trends on WeChat Channels include:

  • Lip syncing
  • Memes
  • Fashion and food
  • Dancing and other performances
  • Cute animals
  • Cute humans
  • Humor
  • Talking heads on any topic
  • Street interviews
  • News
  • Knowledge sharing

Trending types of content on WeChat Channels include

  • In-app purchases
  • Interactive content
  • Education
  • Localized content
  • User-generated content
  • Augmented reality

So, to answer your burning question. How can we utilize WeChat Channels to boost our brand? Continue reading…

How to Use WeChat Channels for Marketing

If you want to promote your brand in China, make sure you educate or entertain, or maybe both. Remember to set a clear CTA (call-to-action), for example, like, comment, download app, visit shop, and so on.

Keep in mind that you create content for your audience. This can differ depending on your product, service, and niche. 

Compared to Douyin, WeChat Channels’ largest competitor for short videos, Channels on WeChat has an older audience and tends to be used more in a professional context. 

On the other hand, Douyin has a younger audience and is generally used in a private context. This is reflected by the fact that Douyin offers more personalization options (filters, stickers, effects) for private and brand use. Conversely, WeChat Channels only allows you to upload a fully edited video.

Who is WeChat Channels Marketing for?

Many businesses use videos to promote their brand, but it must be interesting for the viewer to be successful. Purely promotional content without any educational and/or entertaining factor won’t be enough to capture the attention of an audience who is overwhelmed with quick, fun, and captivating information online.

The good news is that you can easily cross-share your thought-out and engaging videos on other popular Chinese social media like Douyin, Xiaohongshu, and Bilibili.

In fact, WeChat Channels are ideal for e-commerce and B2B marketing. Here is how videos help you to reach your business goals in China.

  • Networking: Connect with other businesses and professionals, and explore partnership opportunities.
  • Content Sharing: Share industry insights, thought pieces, and product/service updates to engage potential partners and clients.
  • Customer Relationship Management: Directly communicate with partners and clients, and provide personalized customer service and support.
  • Lead Generation: Share valuable content and engage with prospects to generate leads and build your client base.
  • Brand Visibility: Increase your brand awareness and trust among B2B partners and clients. 

The open rate by followers for WeChat Channels videos is very high as is the potential for the content to go viral.

The WeChat Channels Audience

The majority of people who use Channels are women (80%) and compared to Moments, videos on Channels have an 80% higher engagement rate.

Limitations of WeChat Channels

All this sounds pretty good so far, right? As with anything in life, there are also some downsides, although not drastic and manageable, if you know how.

  • Content Restrictions: Topics like sensitive political issues and adult content violate China’s regulations and/or WeChat’s community guidelines. Make sure to stay clear of these. Also keep in mind to check for intellectual property rights, for example, if you use music in your videos to avoid censorship.
  • Audience Reach: While WeChat is extremely popular in China and among the Chinese community, other social media apps are perhaps more suitable to reach an international, foreign audience.
  • Payment Integration: With WeChat Pay in mind, the app focuses on Chinese payment systems, making international transactions difficult to impossible.
  • Language Barrier: The predominantly Chinese interface and user base increase the effort for international brands to localize their content. 
  • Competition: WeChat competitors like Douoyin and Xiaohongshu make brands compete for the attention of Chinese consumers, making it more challenging and costly to stand out and get your message across.

Now, with this in mind, let’s take a look at how to position your brand successfully with WeChat Channels.

Content Marketing

To stand out with your brand content, just like on any other social media platform, focus on high quality, captivating aspects, interactive elements, and consistency when posting. 

Here are some ideas for video content to stand out from the crowd with your brand.

  • Funny situations where your product or service is used, for example, out of context. This could be in everyday moments or unusual places or situations.
  • Participate in popular Chinese shopping festivals like Chinese New Year or 11/11 Singles Day
  • Behind the scenes or making of content
  • Music videos
  • Mini-drama-series with engaging storyline
  • Run exclusive offers and promotions
  • Live streaming (you must formally apply through the WeChat backend to activate this feature)
  • Cross-platform promotions from other Chinese social apps

For example, a beauty brand may be more successful with hacks, tutorials and tips compared to fancy product promotions. Because of this, they included these content strategies on their WeChat Channels to provide added value to their audiences.

Next, let’s take a look at paid advertising on WeChat Video Accounts.

Paid Ads

CPC/CPM marketing on WeChat Channels is ideal if you want to raise your brand awareness in China, drive engagement, and boost conversion. It is suitable for all brands, large or small, local or international, that can create visually appealing videos. Note that this is really the make-or-break factor for the success of WeChat Channels campaigns!

Watch out: You need a personal account (NOT a business account) as well as an advertising account to run paid ads on WeChat. Keep in mind that you need a Chinese Resident ID card to open a personal WeChat account.

Once you are all set, select from the following ad types on WeChat Channels that fit your goals and budget:

  • Mutual Selection Ad: Brands work with KOL/influencers (internet celebrities) for a set marketing fee, depending on the video length.
  • Small Task Ad: The KOL/influencer develops and shares content as briefed by the brand, and the marketing fee depends on the ad performance.
  • Native Ad: Brands integrate promotional content into live broadcasts or short video ads with monetization through in-stream purchases.

Here are examples comparing the ad types:

WeChat Channels Features - Paid Advertising Types

Costs for scheduled ads start from 50,000 RMB (~7,000 USD) one-off and exposure ads (CPC/CPM) start from 50 RMB (~7 USD) per day. Find a detailed setup tutorial for ads here.

Remember that while short video ads are popular among netizens and have the potential to go viral, there are only a handful of advertising formats and the videos must be tailored to Chinese users. This may result in extra expenses for the production of high-quality localized videos, which are a must for successful WeChat Channels campaigns.

Case Study: ENWEIS

Popular Chinese underwear brand Enweis seized the opportunity of Tencent’s 520 Gift Season, which is similar to Valentine’s Day and takes place on 20 May.

Enweis collaborated with renowned stylist Qiao Jiaozhu to boost their brand with meticulously produced videos and incentives to join live broadcastings. This made them rank first on Tencent’s 520 Merchandise List 2024.

WeChat Channels Features - Live broadcasting case study Enweis

More than 180,000 viewers saw the live sessions. A high interaction and audience retention rate was achieved by optimizing

  • People: A trusted influencer engages the target audience
  • Product: Styles, price, and image that the followers want to achieve with easy in-broadcast purchase options
  • Place: Online, at a time when the audience is most active and open to purchases

This resulted in a single-session GMV (gross merchandise value) of more than 3 million RMB (~415,000 USD).

After the live broadcast, interactions continued through the influencer’s private channel and community. This further promoted long-tail sales and resulted in a so-called “post-private domain operation” GMV of more than 160,000 RMB (~22,000 USD).

To sum it up, this campaign by Enweis generated a “heat value” of 7.3 billion RMB (~100,000 USD). Heat value is a comprehensive indicator used by multiple live streaming platforms to evaluate the influence and popularity of celebrities and campaigns.

Our Take on Paid Channels Ads on WeChat

There are numerous restrictions in place, which is why we recommend WeChat Channels ad only for larger companies. For startups and SMEs, other paid advertising options on WeChat and other platforms are usually more suitable.

Read up on how WeChat Channel ads compare to other advertising formats on WeChat (Moments, OA, Mini-Programs, Search) in detail.

Downsides of Paid Ads on WeChat Channels

  • Chinese Resident ID Card: Every Channel must be associated with the identity information of a Chinese citizen, and each individual may only be associated with one video account.
  • Advertising Restrictions: Limitations include gambling, adult entertainment, and political topics. WeChat might lift these restrictions in the future, but for now, they still apply.
  • Video Production Cost: a professional high-quality video is the basis of successful campaigns
  • Ad Budget: Comparatively high CPC/CPM rates

This brings us to the end of this in-depth article on WeChat Channels Features.

The Takeaway – WeChat Channels Features

If you asked yourself how to leverage WeChat Channels with your overseas brand on China’s biggest social media platform, you should have all the answers now.

WeChat Channels is an extremely popular video feed within China’s super app, making it ideal for B2C and B2B businesses to enter or expand in the Chinese market.

While it’s technically easy to post a video on WeChat Channels, developing the right video content for your target audience in China’s fast-paced digital landscape can be viewed as an art. Videos must be produced in high-quality, fun and/or educational, as well as shareable to lift the vast potential that WeChat Video Accounts hold.

This is doable, but much easier with an experienced partner by your side. If you still have questions or would like to use our services to get started, the China specialists at WeChat Advertising are here for you!

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