What’s New: Recent WeChat Updates
This April, WeChat successfully added several new functions and features to their mini programs and official accounts. What are they? What effect are they having? Let’s have a look.
Tencent officially launched WeChat Mini Programs in January 2017. They’re apps that can be accessed and used within WeChat itself without additional installations.
1. Mini program QR codes
Mini program QR codes were released on April 18th. Compared with traditional QR codes, mini program QR codes are more concise and highly recognizable. They resemble stars or flowers. Users with the latest version of WeChat (version 6.5.7) can access mini programs by long pressing a picture of the code or by scanning it.
The new mini program QR codes are also more “follower-friendly”. At the very beginning, the traditional QR codes for mini programs couldn’t be identified by long pressing, so it was somewhat difficult to promote them on other platforms to some extent.
↑ The mini program QR code for WeChat Open Class.
These codes use an exclusive, independent format and can only be created on WeChat. This guarantees control by WeChat and keeps them within WeChat’s ecosystem. Mini program QR codes can be posted on WeChat Moments pages or sent to WeChat friends and are helpful in promoting.
WeChat is not the first app to release such a distinctive QR code. In fact, some other platforms have already created their own exclusive codes, such as Facebook Messenger and Snapchat.
2. Mini programs are now open to third party operators
In addition to government bodies, the media and corporates, individuals can now register their own WeChat mini programs. However, not everyone has expertise in programming. On April 17th, mini programs were opened to third party operators who can help brands that want to develop their own mini programs. They can provide brands with coding services and account management or provide mini program templates for them to complete by themselves.
Both brands and web service providers can benefit from this change. The introduction of this function lowers the barrier to entry for mini programs and enables greater control over the functions and appearance of mini programs for smaller entities. As a result, mini program development will no longer be an obstacle for a small-scale account. Currently, these third party operators are still under development.
3. Mini programs and official accounts can have the same name
In the past, the name of a mini program couldn’t be the same as the name of an official WeChat account. This restriction has now been relaxed. Account managers can edit the mini program’s name using the content management system backstage for their mini program.
This function allows brands to drive traffic from the official accounts to their mini programs, especially for those official accounts that have already accumulated a certain subscriber base.
4. Official WeChat accounts can be associated with different mini programs
Before, an official WeChat account could only be bound with five mini programs. Now, this has increased to 13. Among them, an official WeChat account can be bound with at most ten mini programs under the same entity, and three others from different entities.
For example, if ChoZan has registered one official WeChat account and ten mini programs at the same time, its official account can be bound with all the ten mini programs as well as three others registered by others.
As for mini programs, one mini program can only be bound with three official WeChat accounts.
In this way, brands can not only bind their mini program and official account together to drive traffic in-house, but can also bind it with others that have much larger user base to gain external traffic.
Follow these steps to bind a mini program with an official WeChat account:
Step1: Log in to your official WeChat account backstage.
Step2: Enter “Account Settings” and click “Related mini program”.
Step3: Enter the mini program ID to search the mini programs and apply to bind.
Step4: After approval from the WeChat team, the binding is complete.
5. A mini program card can be added to WeChat articles
On April 22, in order to help users better access services provided by the official account, WeChat released mini program cards. The cards are made up of a picture and simple text. They can be added after a WeChat article to direct readers to a related mini program. Users access the mini program by clicking the card, thus driving traffic to the mini program.
↑ For example, Shitangjun (二更食堂), which produces content about relationships, added a mini program card that links to their mini program’s “Good night video (晚安视频)” page.
How to add a mini program card to a WeChat article:
Step 1: Log in to your official WeChat account backstage. Click “mini program” on the right side.
Step 2: Choose a mini program that has already been bound with your account.
Step 3: Confirm the layout style.
Step 4: Edit the title, upload a display picture and add the link to the mini program page.
6. Apple has terminated WeChat’s tipping function for iOS users
On April 19th, Apple terminated WeChat’s tipping function on iOS devices, which enabled users to donate a small sum of money to the author of a WeChat article. According to Apple’s Terms and Conditions, when users need to complete transactions within apps, it must be done within in-app purchase, which means users need to pay Apple first, instead of the app service provider directly.
For the same WeChat article, the tipping function still can be seen and used on Android devices, while it can no longer be found on an iOS interface. This termination blocks paid content associated with WeChat, reduces enthusiasm for content producers and limit creativity to some extent.
WeChat always keeps improving by increasing product functionality and creating a great user experience. Brands that enter China should keep track of updated WeChat features and functions to maintain sensitivity to the market.
What do you think about these new WeChat features? Do you want to keep updated on new WeChat features? Are you interested in learning more about how they can be used for marketing? Leave a comment below. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.
*For more information on mini programs, please refer to our blog post: All You Need to Know About WeChat Mini Programs.
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