Tencent officially launched WeChat Mini Programs on January 9th, 2017. It’s a significant milestone for WeChat and a turning point for mobile operating systems. Industry insiders even predict that WeChat could one day rival iOS and Android to become another major mobile operating system.

So what do you need to know about WeChat mini programs?


1. What is a mini program?

WeChat mini programs, also known as mini apps, are applications that function within the WeChat app itself. They can be used right away without installation or downloading. Users only need to find them on WeChat to access their functions. The functionalities of mini apps are not as complete as those of iOS or Android apps. Nevertheless, the features of the most used mini programs meet the majority of users’ needs.

Currently, thousands of mini programs have already been launched, covering various industries with diverse functions. For example: travel ticket booking, stock checking, video watching, food ordering, movie ticket booking, bike sharing, taxi hailing, online shopping, picture editing and many more.


2. Where can you find them?

There are three ways to get a WeChat mini program.

1) Type the mini app name into the WeChat search bar. Fuzzy search doesn’t work so the correct name must be used.

WeChat mini program search 1WeChat mini program search 2WeChat mini program search 3

2) Shared by friends on the Chats page. If a friend sends a mini program status update in a chat, users can use the mini app by clicking on the update. 

share WeChat mini program 1 share WeChat mini program 2

3) Scan the QR code for the mini app .

scan QR code WeChat mini program

There’s no central repository like the App Store or the Play Store that displays all of WeChat’s mini apps and only WeChat versions above 6.5.3 have access to the Mini Program platform.


3. What are mini-programs used for?

Mini-programs, also known as mini-apps, are ‘sub-applications’ built within the WeChat ecosystem.

Without installation or downloading any extra apps, users can simply swipe down on the WeChat interface to choose from a list of WeChat mini-programs and after registering, users can enjoy the functions and services offered instantly. 

Currently, thousands of mini-programs have already been deployed covering a variety of industries and functions, used to expand business, share knowledge and for social interaction to name a few.  WeChat mini-programs have enabled users to have access to a large amount of applications or services without leaving WeChat. Many companies have deployed WeChat mini-programs as a cost-effective method to promote online business and services. For example, Mobike, the largest shared-bike company in China, launched its WeChat mini-program to allow users to unlock or top-up their accounts in an easy way.


4. How do you activate the Mini Program platform?

As mentioned, the Mini Program platform doesn’t have an interface or separate site where you can register, enroll or find mini apps. After using one of the three methods above to access a mini app,  WeChat adds a Mini Program bar in the Discover section where you can find all the mini apps you’ve saved. 

activate wechat mini program


5. How can I share a mini program?

Mini programs can only be shared in chats with your friends or in WeChat groups. They can’t be shared on your Moments page.

What’s more, mini program QR codes don’t allow users to long press to extract the code and users can only access the mini app through WeChat scanning. If your friend shares a mini app QR code, you can’t extract it with your phone’s QR code scanner.


6. Using mini apps and chatting simultaneously

Previously users needed to exit a WeChat article if they wanted to chat with someone and then find the article again later. Mini apps avoid this problem. Users can pin the app on their Chats page by selecting “Display on Top”. Then they can re-enter the app whenever they want.

Using mini apps and chatting simultaneously 1Using mini apps and chatting simultaneously 2


7. What are the main mini-programs in WeChat?

E-commerce is increasingly prevalent in WeChat mini-programs and has become one of the dominant functions. Examples of WeChat e-commerce mini-programs can be seen from almost all the large e-commerce companies in China, such as Taobao, Tmall, Pinduoduo and JD.com, which have developed exclusive WeChat mini-programs enabling customers to have an easier and immersive shopping experience.

For instance, Pinduoduo has developed its WeChat mini-program using the concept of social selling. It deployed two buttons on the interface with different colors that allow customers to choose what kind of buying method they would like to use, including group buy and individual buy.


8. How many WeChat mini-programs are there?

After three years of WeChat mini-program development there are now more than 1 million mini-programs launched on the market, covering over 200 various categories such as e-commerce, games, food & lifestyle, news, tools, entertainment & media, and travel & recreation.

At present, the mini-program market size still maintains a rapid growth trend with over 200 million registered users accessing WeChat mini-programs on a daily basis. WeChat mini-programs have become one of the easiest ways to do almost everything in China, covering a vast range of services and needs for the thousands of WeChat daily users.


9. How to measure the performance of a mini-program?

There are several aspects to measure the performance of your WeChat mini-program. One of the prevalent ways is to measure the number of engaged followers. If your WeChat mini-program has thousands of followers, these followers will bring your company traffic, this traffic will then convert to the revenue of your business. 

Another metric to assess the performance of your WeChat mini-program is in the unsubscribe rate of the mini-program. A successfully maintained WeChat mini-program will have a low unsubscribe rate, which means that customers are more likely to engage with campaigns or promotions in your WeChat mini-program. This will significantly influence the success of the conversion of your WeChat mini-programs.


10. Advantages for Android users

Android users can pin mini programs to their home screen.

pin wechat mini programs


Do you want to know how applications are operated in WeChat Mini Program? Let’s read more and we will give you some typical examples among different industries!


To get deeper insights into Chinese social media marketing and utilizing it to serve your business, join ChoZan, a training and resources platform for Chinese social media marketers.

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