website image

WeChat 101: How Can You Get Greater Exposure with Chinese Customers?

March 16, 2021| Danielle Sumerlin


How does search work on WeChat? There's more to it than you might think. In this article, we'll cover search locations and which types of results each one yields. We'll also look at how WeChat has integrated search throughout the app. We'll take a look at a specific search result called the Brand Zone. Finally, we'll look at how two brands, Zhong An and J.P. Morgan, have optimized WeChat search.

Covered Topics:

  1. Search Locations & Results

  2. Brand Zones

  3. Zhong An Search Optimization

  4. J.P. Morgan Search Optimization

01. Search Locations & Results

There are three main places to search:

  1. The Discover tab

  2. WeChat’s home screen/main chat feed

  3. Mini Program search (by pulling down the main home screen page)

WeChat has also integrated search into several facets of the app:

  1. Search by scanning

  2. Search in chats

Depending on where you search, you will get pretty different results, which we’ll discuss below.

website image

Discovery Tab

The Discovery tab is the dedicated search section in WeChat. When you search for something here, the first results will be a brand’s Official Account and Mini Programs – if applicable – and a Sogu Encyclopedia entry. Further down, a brand's WeChat Channels activity and third-party content appear further down in the results.

WeChat offers at least 15 categories to narrow search results: Official Accounts, Wiki, News, Mini Programs, Channels, Stickers, Videos, Moments, Articles, WeChat Index, Books, Music, Products, and Q&A.

website image

Home Screen

The home screen is the main WeChat chat feed that appears when users open the app. When searching from this location, results focus on chat history. If the term has appeared in any of their chats with friends, then those chats will show up as the first results. Next, come links to search for a WeChat ID or go to the Discover search section.

website image

Mini Program Search

You can access the Mini Program search area by pulling down on the WeChat home screen. Doing so reveals recently used and saved Mini Programs, plus a small search icon that allows you to type in your term. The first results are Mini Programs with matching names. After that, there is a huge variety of third-party content. Official Accounts don’t show up here. There also aren’t any other categories as in the Discovery tab.

website image

Search by Scanning

WeChat expanded its scanning function far beyond QR codes to search for items and to translate images. To access the scan feature, tap the plus sign at the top right of the home screen. Once the camera opens, swipe at the bottom of the screen to put it in "Item" mode. Users can also select a photo from their phone to search for instead. The first result is a definition of the main object in the picture, if available. Next are Q&As, then e-commerce links to purchase that or similar items.

website image

Search in Chats

WeChat users can search text and images from within chats. Image search results are chiefly products from e-commerce Mini Programs (basically the same as scan search results). If the searched-for text is an easily recognizable term (like "Starbucks"), WeChat will take the user to the Discover tab search results. If the search term is a longer phrase, the results will be several articles with matching words, plus a feature where users can narrow down their search to one of the words in the phrase. These features also work when people are reading articles posted by Official Accounts.

website image
website image

02. Brand Zones

When a user gets Discover tab search results, one possible result is a Brand Zone. Official Accounts meeting set requirements can apply for a Brand Zone. There are also three Brand Zone classes (A, B, and C), each with unique criteria. Currently, WeChat is in version 2.0 of their Brand Zone. The minimum requirements (which would allow an Official Account to have a class C zone) are OA registration for over six months, WeChat verification, and daily Brand Zone traffic of over 100 per month. All three classes include self-defined SEO keywords, a brand logo and intro, and links to services. Class A and B also allow for a brand-designed background and larger images.

Note the difference in search results when the English name of a brand (Starbucks) and the Chinese name of a brand (星巴克) are searched. In the example of Starbucks vs. 星巴克, the first term results in a class C Brand Zone because of its lower search volume.

website image

03. Zhong An Search Optimization

Zhong An uses their Brand Zone, Mini Program design, account opening feature, and QR codes to make their products easily searchable and accessible.

A few highlights about each feature:

  • Mini Program prompts users to pin it to the MP to "My Mini Programs" so that it is always easily accessible.

  • Brand Zone class B – Zhong An prominently features four different products in the space.

  • Account opening is easily accessible in the MP, with personalized product suggestions.

  • Zhong An’s website features a WeChat QR code that directs the scanner to follow their Official Account.

website image
website image

04. J.P. Morgan Search Optimization

J.P. Morgan's WeChat ID optimization and verification ensure users will easily find and trust the account. The brand uses its Official Account menu bar to promote account binding and direct access to several products and product management. A significant portion of user interaction with an Official Account is through its menu bar, so menu bar offerings are pivotal in guiding user engagement. Finally, J.P. Morgan features a WeChat QR code and follow button on the footer of their website.

A few highlights about each feature:

  • The QR code also has a button to follow the official account, making it slightly easier for mobile users.

  • J.P. Morgan uses the pinyin abbreviation of their Chinese brand name for their WeChat ID, more closely aligning with search terms used in China.

  • The Official Account menu bar offers access to several different products to give users the most direct access possible.

website image
website image

ChatLabs WeChat Mini Program Live Streaming 101

E-commerce live streaming was already one of the fastest-growing marketing trends in China at the end of 2019 and then COVID-19 hit. Consumers were quarantined, offline retail was shut down, and live streaming quickly became THE hottest marketing and sales channel in the country.

WeChat’s newly launched mini program live streaming feature has already started to claim market share.

Subscribe for updates

Be the first to get updates on breaking news, valuable insights, industry reports, and case studies.