WeChat Official Account Update: New Publishing Options and Modified Subscription Messages

New engagement opportunities on WeChat

WeChat recently rolled out two new updates for both users and account owners:

  • For account owners: In the WeChat official account backend, there is a new post editor (draft box) with additional publishing options.
  • For users: Via subscription messages (i.e., WeChat’s push notifications), users will now receive recommended brand posts based on WeChat’s algorithm, regardless of whether they follow that brand.

Here, let’s explore both of these WeChat feature updates and what they entail for engagement between account owners and users.

Note: At the time of writing this article, the updates are still being tested and have not been applied to all WeChat users and official accounts.

WeChat Official Account Update #1: More publishing options available in the new draft box (for account owners)

After WeChat’s update, official account owners should receive a message in the backend inviting them to use Draft box (草稿箱)—the upgraded version of Materials (图文素材).

Now, all content created in the post editor is saved in the draft box and then removed after publication. Previously, however, all content was stored in Materials, regardless of whether they were still drafts or published.

And along with the update, the new tab—Published Record—lets you view all your prior posts.

1. WeChat Official Account Backend - Old (left) versus new (right) navigation menu

WeChat official account backend: Old (left) versus new (right) navigation menu            

Similarly, if you need to modify your published content, you can do so by navigating to Select existing edited posts on the homepage and clicking on Published in the post editor.

2. WeChat Official Account Backend - Modify published content

WeChat official account backend: Modify published content

Furthermore, posts from the original Materials section have moved to Historical Materials, which you can access at the top-right corner of the interface. You can also convert posts in Historical Materials into drafts if you wish to continue editing or publishing them.

3. WeChat official account backend - Check historical materials

WeChat official account backend: Check historical materials

Content from your draft box can either be published as public posts or to augment your brand messaging, such as inserting posts under your menu tabs, adding welcome messages, or customizing your auto-reply messages.

Since WeChat official accounts have a cap on how many push notifications they can send out per day depending on their account type, account owners might be inclined to diversify their content strategy on WeChat.

One such method is publishing posts by clicking Publish instead of Publish to followers so that they don’t count as push notifications.

What’s more, these would share the same functions—like adding hashtags and revealing the number of views, likes, and comments—as posts sent to followers.

4. WeChat official account backend - New option to “Publish” in the editor

WeChat official account backend: New option to “Publish” in the editor

Main Benefits of the New Publishing Options

  • Content can be shared to more targeted audiences across different WeChat mediums, like group chats and mini program content updates.
  • Topical hashtags can help increase content exposure and, in turn, user engagement.
  • Previously, post previews would expire within 24 hours, so to make further changes beyond that timeframe, account owners had to use third-party tools to generate permanent links to update their content (e.g., menus, welcome messages, post templates). After the update, however, this is no longer necessary since you can make all edits in the WeChat backend at any time.

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WeChat Official Account Update #2: Posts from accounts you don’t follow are recommended in subscription messages (for users)

Compared to other social channels, WeChat has always focused on the individuals‘ experience by letting users choose who they want to connect with and what content to consume. That is, until this update.

According to your reading interests and followed hashtags, WeChat’s algorithm will recommend posts or videos to you via subscription messages, even from accounts you don’t follow. This feature was already introduced to top stories but is now being applied to subscription messages.

In addition, within your subscription messages, some posts by accounts you follow are now placed under a drop-down, meaning users need to click Reveal and check more to view them.

On the flipside, the proportion of recommended content and their number of views have grown significantly, leading people to believe that WeChat might eventually evolve into a content- and news-heavy platform.

5. WeChat interface - New format of WeChat subscription messages

WeChat interface: New format of WeChat subscription messages

Main Benefits of the Modified Subscription Messages:

  • WeChat official accounts and posts have higher exposure, so brands should leverage attention-grabbing images and titles.
  • The number of views on a post can continue increasing even after seven days. Before, promoted posts would see the highest engagement (i.e., reads and shares) within the first three days since its publishing. But now, WeChat’s algorithm recommends posts regardless of promo date, so post views can also accumulate later down the road.

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Ultimately, both updates introduce a relatively new angle for content engagement and publishing on WeChat’s ecosystem—one that will continue to develop over time as more brands and users embrace it. From a brand’s perspective, only by adopting and experimenting with different approaches will you know how to best leverage the updates for your marketing goals.

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